An identifier scheme for the Digitising Scotland project

Ozgur Akgun, Ahmad Al-Sidiqi, Peter Christen, Thomas Stanley Dalton, Alan Dearle, Christopher John Lloyd Dibben, Eilidh Garrett, Alasdair Gray, Graham Njal Cameron Kirby, Alice Reid

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The Digitising Scotland project is having the vital records of Scotland transcribed from images of the original handwritten civil registers . Linking the resulting dataset of 24 million vital records covering the lives of 18 million people is a major challenge requiring improved record linkage techniques. Discussions within the multidisciplinary, widely distributed Digitising Scotland project team have been hampered by the teams in each of the institutions using their own identification scheme. To enable fruitful discussions within the Digitising Scotland team, we required a mechanism for uniquely identifying each individual represented on the certificates. From the identifier it should be possible to determine the type of certificate and the role each person played. We have devised a protocol to generate for any individual on the certificate a unique identifier, without using a computer, by exploiting the National Records of Scotland•À_s registration districts. Importantly, the approach does not rely on the handwritten content of the certificates which reduces the risk of the content being misread resulting in an incorrect identifier. The resulting identifier scheme has improved the internal discussions within the project. This paper discusses the rationale behind the chosen identifier scheme, and presents the format of the different identifiers. The work reported in the paper was supported by the British ESRC under grants ES/K00574X/1(Digitising Scotland) and ES/L007487/1 (Administrative Data Research Center - Scotland).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2017
EventUK Administrative Data Research Network Annual Research Conference: Social science using administrative data for public benefit - Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jun 20172 Jun 2017


ConferenceUK Administrative Data Research Network Annual Research Conference
Abbreviated titleADRN2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • record linkage


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