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Serial Item and Contribution Identifier

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The Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI) was a code (ANSI/NISO standard Z39.56-1996 [R2002]) used to uniquely identify specific volumes, articles or other identifiable parts of a serial. It was "intended primarily for use by those members of the bibliographic community involved in the use or management of serial titles and their contributions". Developed over 1993–1995,[1] NISO adopted SICI as a standard in 1996, then reaffirmed it in 2002.[2] It was withdrawn in 2012.[3]



It is an extension of the International Standard Serial Number, which identifies an entire serial (similar to the way an ISBN identifies a specific book). The ISSN applies to the entire publication, however, including every volume ever printed, so this more specific identifier was developed by the Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee (SISAC) to allow references to specific parts of a journal.

The variable-length, free of charge, code is compatible with other identifiers, such as DOI, PII and URN.[4][5] Prior to January 2009, SICIs were valid DOI suffixes for registration at the Crossref registration agency. However, to accommodate a security problem with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, they decided that they would soon refuse to register DOI suffixes that contain the colon character.[6]

The SICI is a recognized international standard and is in wide use by publishers and the bibliographic community, primarily as an aid to finding existing articles or issues.[7] JSTOR adopted SICIs in 2001 as its primary article-level identifier and the core of its stable and citation-derivable URLs. SICI was selected over simpler alternatives because of its ability to encompass the many varieties of journal metadata found in JSTOR's archive.[8] However, due to difficulties encountered by its partners in calculating the correct values for the title code and the check digit, JSTOR's implementation of the standard ignores those elements.[1][9] JSTOR now recommends against using SICI, and instead strongly suggests using DOIs instead.[10] This is also done because sometimes multiple articles on the same page have exactly the same name (in particular "Obituary").



The SICI code is composed of three segments, intended to be both human-readable and easy for machines to parse automatically. The following example SICI is explained below:[11]

Abstract from Lynch, Clifford A. "The Integrity of Digital Information; Mechanics and Definitional Issues." JASIS 45:10 (Dec. 1994) p. 737-44

Item segment

This is the ISSN for the serial, in this case the Journal of the American Society for Information Science
The chronology part is in parentheses and identifies the date of publication. In this case, it is signified by year and month; 1994 December
The enumeration part signifies the volume and number; Vol. 45, no. 10.

Contribution segment

Signifies the start of the contribution segment
Location code: signifies the page number, frame number, reel number, etc. In this case, page 737
Title code: based on the title of the article. In this case, an initialism: "The Integrity of Digital Information; Mechanics and Definitional Issues".
Signifies the end of the contribution segment

Control segment

Code Structure Identifier (CSI) for the type of SICI being constructed
Derivative Part Identifier (DPI) identifies a part of the contribution, such as a table of contents or abstract
Format identifier two-letter code signifying the way content is presented. In this case, TX = printed text
Standard version number
Check character allows a computer to detect errors in the code, similar to ISBN's check digit


Bjorner, Susanne. "Who Are These Independent Information Brokers?" Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, Feb-Mar. 1995, Vol. 21, no. 3, page 12



To use as an info URI, the SICI is percent-encoded and prefixed.




To use in a URN, the SICI is percent-encoded and prefixed.[12] For example, to create a URN for a specific article "From text to hypertext by indexing" in the journal ACM Transactions on Information Systems:


This could then be used to refer to the article inside an HTML citation (in the <cite> element), for instance, in a way that is superior to an HTTP link for documents that are not on the web or have transient URLs:[13]

A model is presented for converting a collection of documents to hypertext by means of indexing. The documents are assumed to be semistructured, i.e., their text is a hierarchy of parts, and some of the parts consist of natural language. The model is intended as a framework for specifying hypertextual reading capabilities for specific application areas and for developing new automated tools for the conversion of semistructured text to hypertext.

An Internet Draft proposal to officially register the SICI namespace for URNs with IANA was made in 2002, but is currently dormant.[14][15]



SICI codes can be used as the item ID in a DOI identifier.[16] In the following example, the number 10.1002 is the DOI's publisher ID, a slash acts as a separator, and the rest, which is publisher-specific, is the SICI code:

  • 10.1002/0002-8231(199601)47:1<23:TDOMII>2.0.TX;2-2

CrossRef no longer allows DOIs with colons to be registered, greatly reducing the usefulness of such SICIs.[6]


  • (ANSI/NISO standard Z39.56-1991)
  • ANSI/NISO standard Z39.56-1996
  • ANSI/NISO standard Z39.56-1996 [R2002] (Version 2)

See also

  • The BICI is a draft with a very similar format and functionality, using an ISBN instead of an ISSN, used to identify components of a book.
  • ISSN
  • DOI
  • NISO
  • OpenURL – tries to solve similar problems like SICI
  • Z39.50


  1. ^ a b Koppel, Ted (July 2004). "The SICI Emerges, Cicada-Like, After Eight Years of Dormancy" (PDF). Information Standards Quarterly. 16 (3): 1–6 at 1, 4. ISSN 1041-0031. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  2. ^ See "Published & Approved NISO Standards," in "Year in Review & State of the Standards, January 31, 2012," by National Information Standards Organization (NISO), special issue, Information Standards Quarterly, 24, 1 (Winter 2012): 33–34 at 34, doi:10.3789/isqv24n1.2012.07, ISSN 1041-0031.
  3. ^ "Withdrawn NISO Standards," in "State of the Standards, January 31, 2013," by National Information Standards Organization (NISO), special issue, Information Standards Quarterly, 25, 1 (Spring 2013): 27–33 at 33, doi:10.3789/isqv25no1.2013.06, ISSN 1041-0031.
  4. ^ Morgan, Cliff. "The DOI (Digital Object Identifier)". Archived from the original on 2004-03-17.
  5. ^ Paskin, Norman (September 1996). "Document identifiers: an update on current activities". ICSTI Forum (23). Archived from the original on 2002-11-18.
  6. ^ a b "Creating a DOI suffix".
  7. ^ "6. Evaluation of the Identification Schemes". Archived from the original on 2012-02-05.
  8. ^ JSTOR and "Deep Linking" Archived 15 July 2012 at archive.today – No. 5, Issue 2, JSTORNEWS, June 2001
  9. ^ The SICI Standard – JSTOR Archived 13 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "SICI Linking". Archived from the original on 2016-11-14. Retrieved 2016-08-12. While we will continue to support SICI linking, we advise that linking partners use OpenURL syntax for the most reliable linking experience
  11. ^ What is the SICI? – Bibliographic Management Factfile – UKOLN
  12. ^ Using Existing Bibliographic Identifiers as Uniform Resource Names Archived 3 January 2007 at the Wayback MachineRFC 2288
  13. ^ "URNs and bibliographic citations in web authoring – BenMeadowcroft.com".
  14. ^ Hakala, Juna. "Using Serial Item and Contribution Identifiers as Uniform Resource Names".
  15. ^ URN NID Assignment Status
  16. ^ Powell, Andy (1997-01-01). "Unique Identifiers in a Digital World". Ariadne (8).

Further reading