PIDs for instruments in photon and neutron facilities science. Use case by STFC

Photon & Neutron science
STFC, Science and Technology Facilities Council

The proposal of this use case is to advance the use of PIDs for instruments, such  as instruments, devices, softwares and services, in the context of photon and neutron facilities (research infrastructures). This is an area of great interest in the community, for example assisting with assessing the impact of individual instruments. The RDA has a Working Group on Persistent Identification of Instruments  that takes a cross-domain approach, but its specific application to PaN has not been fully explored.


In the field of photon and neutron science, an important European project ExPaNDS ( has just come to an end after three years of work. ExPaNDS is the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Photon and Neutron Data Service, and is a collaboration between ten national Photon and Neutron Research Infrastructures (PaN RIs) as well as EGI. ExPaNDS was founded on the ideals of FAIR data, and has produced many high-quality results for the PaN community. There were also some areas of great interest to the community that were not yet pursued, including PIDs for instruments (in this context an instrument is a beamline on a facility, and its associated equipment used for conducting analyses of particular types). The FAIR-IMPACT project is an opportunity to take this further to advance FAIR in the photon and neutron community.


Challenges that need to be addressed

  • Investigating through engagement with ISIS staff how PIDs for instruments would be used in practice by different stakeholders, what changes of practices might be needed, and what the implications are for the adoption of PIDs.
  • Examining and elaborating use cases especially assessing impact of instruments.
  • Appropriately representing versioning as instruments are modified over time.


Expected impact of the Use Case

There is growing interest in assessing impact of research funding from different perspectives, including impact of whole facilities and of the instruments within them. The ability to refer to an instrument unambiguously through a PID would facilitate this assessment. Furthermore, it would enable credit to be clearly assigned to facilities staff responsible for particular instruments.


Expected outputs 

It is not expected that within the FAIR-IMPACT project the work will lead to an implementation of PIDs for instruments. However it will result in a better understanding of the processes around the generation and use of such PIDs and how they could fit into the practices of photon and neutron facilities, as well as the use cases that motivate them and the implications for future implementation.



Simon Lambert, STFC