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Global Persistent Identifiers for grants, awards, and facilities

Crossref’s Open Funder Registry (neé FundRef) now includes over 15 thousand entries. Crossref has over 2 million metadata records that include funding information - 1.7 million of which include an Open Funder Identifier. The uptake of funder identifiers is already making it easier and more efficient for the scholarly community to directly link funding to research outputs, but lately we’ve been hearing from a number of people that the time is ripe for a global grant identifier as well.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Terminology is going to be critical going forward, a perpetual problem with different organisations using different terms for the same thing and the same term for different things. The article confronts this early on, questioning the use of grant identifier. However, it then proceeds to use the term grant identifier throughout, even when referring to an application for a grant. The way in which research is funded is changing, and grants are being replaced by other funding mechanisms. Therefore, we need to stop using the term grant as soon as possible.

From a funder perspective, someone who is requesting funding generally submits an application. If the application meets the funding criteria, which may be objective and/or subjective, then is can be awarded, possibly in the form of a grant. It is wrong to apply a grant identifier to an application, because it is not a grant at that point.

I suggest the term used is Research Funding Identifier. This works for different funding mechanisms - grants, loads, fellowships etc, as they are all types of funding. It also works for applications as the term does not presuppose that funding has actually been awarded. Potentially, the Research word could be dropped, since not all funding provided by the funders is for research. This would give the term Funding Identifier, which is still better than grant identifier in my opinion.

Really good to hear a different opinion on the terminology question, thanks. We probably think about these things a bit too much from the inside of our organizations (e.g. at Crossref we have a Funder Identifier already, and we talk about Funding Data that our members supply, and have the interface, and all the research funders in our group will have their own varied terms) but we will definitely need to make sure the name will work long-term with not-too-much explanation so agree the more generic Funding ID might be a broader option. Elements of the schema could specify whether the “Funding ID record”(?) is a grant, application, proposal, use-of-facility, etc. I will raise this with the advisory group. Let me know if you have any more ideas here or by direct message, and we’ll continue to update via the blog.


It is, indeed, a minefield. I guess there are many ways such problems can be tackled. Bottom line is, it is all funding or funding-related information. However, there are different needs here in providing the resolution - one links to the status: application, grant etc. Another links to the funding type: research grant, loan, studentship, fellowship etc. I guess the trick is to get the necessary resolution/utility without the schema becoming too constraining.

Your link shows the outputs from the funding provided by the funders. Of course, we want to join up these outputs to the original research funding that underpinned the work. I hope that the difference between ’ Funder identifier’ and ‘Funding identifier’ is sufficient.