Previously, it has been a huge challenge to associate academic articles, patents or datasets with their authors easily and reliably and the problem looked set to grow as the volume of digital scholarly outputs continues to swell.
But over the last few years ORCID has been gaining ground across the globe as a practical solution to the problem. Here in the UK it has been endorsed by major funders, sector bodies and professional organisations and has also been welcomed by a number of leading academic publishers. It has been adopted by a number of UK universities and is paving the way for better management and reuse of UK research through enhanced data quality and better integration of research systems and processes.
Fourteen months ago, with ORCID emerging as the optimal researcher identifier solution, it was timely to find out how the system could work most effectively for the UK’s researchers and their institutions. Partnering with the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), we worked with eight universities to support and monitor their efforts as they implemented ORCID identifiers; what we learned from them and from other stakeholders in the process has given us some rich insights to share with others who want to go down the same route.
The universities involved – Aston University, Imperial College London, University of Kent, Northumbria University, University of Oxford, Swansea University, University of Southampton, and the University of York – see ORCID as a crucial service that should ease the workload of their researchers in ensuring compliance with open access (OA) mandates. It supports efforts to make research more visible and discoverable, thereby creating more opportunities for international and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Dr Torsten Reimer, Imperial College London’s scholarly communications officer, told us, “At Imperial, ORCID already automates the process of authors ‘claiming’ their publications from external data feeds, where publishers support it. ORCID will also help the university to track non-traditional outputs such as software and data. We had very positive feedback and good uptake from our researchers – in particular, they are looking for ORCID to help automate funder reporting requirements.”
ORCID is a global, open and community-driven initiative developed closely with (and for) the research community. Researchers can control the privacy settings of their own ORCID record data and decide both what information they share and who they share it with.
New consortium arrangement
While ORCID is free to use for individual researchers, organisations that want to integrate ORCID with their internal systems are required to pay a fee. It is a membership organisation and the fees paid for membership ensure that it can continue to offer its services for the scholarly community. To help the UK’s HEIs with adoption of ORCID, Jisc Collections has negotiated a national consortium arrangement that brings reduced ORCID membership costs and enhanced technical support such as webinars and workshops. Built on the outcomes of the pilot project, this agreement will help to speed up implementation and support smoother integration of ORCID identifiers into universities’ established systems and processes.
We know this consortium arrangement is a service that universities want – more than 50 UK universities told us that they would like to join an ORCID consortium this year while a further 22 have plans to join in the future. We expect others will want to follow suit.
The momentum to implement ORCID continues to gather pace. ORCID identifiers are now frequently being requested both during the publishing process and when researchers apply for grants; The Wellcome Trust is the latest research funder to require lead applicants to provide an ORCID identifier when applying for a grant. Both Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have shown high level support for the initiative and the recently published The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management recommends that ORCID identifiers should be mandatory for all researchers in the next REF.
Feedback from our pilot shows that each of the eight universities expects to see measurable efficiency improvements within two years of implementation and that these will be particularly marked in internal data quality, publications management and enhanced reporting to funders. Those benefits will increase over the next three to four years as ORCID becomes more firmly embedded across the scholarly landscape.
Our resources about the Jisc-ARMA ORCID pilot project offer insights and include case studies and you can find details of how to sign up for national consortium membership on the Jisc Collections website.