This special guest post is authored by Balviar Notay, Monica Duke, and Adam Vials Moore from the Jisc ORCID Support Team
August 2020 sees the 5-year anniversary of the UK ORCID consortium. The evolution of ORCID and the UK Consortium can be viewed as a change programme. If we look back and reflect, what have been the drivers for change and what improvements can we celebrate?
The formation and growth of the UK ORCID community
Before the launch of the consortium in August 2015, steps had already been taken to explore ORCID as a viable option for the UK via the Researcher Identifier Task and Finish group which brought together stakeholders from the community to explore opportunities and options. Getting stakeholder agreement was a vital aspect to enable the UK to move forward together. The outcome of this group resulted in a joint statement from key stakeholders that the UK will endorse ORCID. Then the Jisc ARMA ORCID Pilot projects were initiated (May 2014 – March 2015). These were a set of eight university-based pilots to explore how to streamline ORCID implementation processes and start to develop a community of practice. Near the end of these projects Jisc produced a cost-benefits analysis report to help develop the best value approach for a potential UK-wide adoption of ORCID in Higher Education (HE), including evaluating the possibility of UK consortium membership.
In 2012 the key organizations came together to form a Researcher Identifier Task Group which issued a number of reports and then validated its conclusions in a consultation with the community. A study on use cases for ORCID and possible implementation plans was followed by the creation of the ORCID Implementation Group and a pilot program with the aim of streamlining the ORCID implementation process at universities and investigating the possibility of UK consortium membership. Eight University based pilot projects were run between May 2014 and January 2015
The Jisc-ARMA pilot projects laid the foundation to commence the UK ORCID consortium in the UK and had the intended effect of building a community of practice. The first three years focused on laying the groundwork for the consortium – from developing tailored resources such as systems capability documents to setting up help desk infrastructure and providing mechanisms for community engagement to allow us to capture and synthesize requirements. In addition to setting up the service, it was equally as important to develop a culture and community within the consortium in order to navigate, coordinate and support the improvements in the technical landscape together. To accomplish this we ran events, workshops, training, hackdays and surveys for our members. Over the five years we have had a total of 29 events with more than 700 participants. Read more about the experience of setting up the consortium in this presentation at Open Repositories 2019.
The policy landscape is taking shape
As the number of ORCID consortia grew worldwide and the UK consortium gained momentum, there has been global effort to evolve the policy landscape. At the end of 2018 funders such as UKRI and Wellcome Trust and Swiss National Science Foundation made a commitment to implementing best practice ORCID workflows, signing up to the ORCID Funders Open Letter. This engagement has started to filter into policy consideration and development. The outcome of the Tickell report recommended that “Jisc lead on selecting and promoting a range of unique identifiers, including ORCID, in collaboration with sector leaders with relevant partner organizations” and that “Funders of research to consider mandating the use of an agreed range of unique identifiers as a condition of grant.” Jisc has responded to the Tickell recommendations and has engaged in a program of consultation with the UK stakeholders to look at a possible PID consortium and what that might mean. Support of ORCID IDs is also being woven into institutional policies and guidance, with examples that include the University of Manchester, University of Leeds and University of Salford.
The technical environment is maturing
Over the years the thinking about infrastructure has changed. While the early picture suggested that each piece of institutional technology would require its own integration to the ORCID API, integrations are now more commonly deployed with a single point of truth connecting to the ORCID registry, with internal information connections managing ORCID ID workflows across the institution.
A key activity of Jisc as lead of the UK ORCID consortium is gathering and synthesizing requirements via our community engagement. We provide space and channels through which our members describe the improvements needed. These feed into evolving the technical landscape around ORCID iDs and their use in scholarly infrastructure. Outlined below are the key elements of story of this change, a story driven by our service in partnership with our community.
A prime example of the success of the community approach is the development of a full member level integration to the registry for the open source Eprints repository software. The requirements gathering was driven by the community owners, supported by the Jisc ORCID team. The ORCID Advance plugin for Eprints was implemented in partnership and approved with ORCID’s involvement. The result was one of the most fully-featured and capable platforms for members at that time. Jisc was given an award by ORCID in recognition for this work.
Jisc collated and synthesized its community’s voice to demonstrate a desire for change in the capabilities of the integration between Symplectic Element’s CRIS and the ORCID registry. Both ORCID and Symplectic commented on how useful it was that this change in the roadmap came from the community rather than individuals. And the UK community approach was mirrored by the Australian ORCID consortium, using our materials, which further fed into the change process. Ongoing work to collate and surface the needs of the community working with the Worktribe product builds on the foundations established in this process.
As new products with ORCID integrations emerge and are adopted across UKHE, we work together with the community and their vendors to ensure we create good relationships and build upon them. When Haplo was building services for the University of Westminster, they featured in the member experience talks at our members annual event in 2018. Haplo contributed to requirements and feasibility hackdays and platform developments within Jisc. Where needed, we link up with the wider international ORCID family through our links with other consortia. For example, only one of our current UK member institutions uses Vidatum, but through meeting jointly with the Irish consortium (where this vendor has a larger presence) we were able to be part of the journey of developing their ORCID integration. Vidatum are now well on the way to achieving ORCID Service Provider certification, while Haplo was the first repository system worldwide that has been certified as such.
We also look at gaps in provision for our community, for example, when new members join, we are often asked, ”which researchers in my institution have an ORCID iD?” This is quite a difficult question to answer! Through a series of hackdays and workshops, we consulted with ORCID and the community, collated requirements and developed the Community ORCID Dashboard project (COrDa), to address this issue. To date we have produced a tool to identify affiliated ORCID iD for a specific institution, as well as a reporting framework. The tool is used in several UK institutions (especially Delving into ORCID) and now successfully deployed by the US and Canadian Consortium as well. As this blog is published further work on the wider framework is being pursued.
Shared standards continue to develop
Monitoring standards efforts is an important aspect of our activity. This ensures that the consortium and UK persistent identifier landscape keeps in step with required developments. This is needed to enable the effective and efficient interchange of information, so we actively participate in meetings and planning.
We represent the use of ORCID in various metadata schemas and application profiles discussions, a role we share with our ORCID colleagues, among others. For example, even from very early on, Jisc made sure that ORCID appeared in RIOXX to support UK institutions in gathering the required metadata for OA reporting and monitoring. ORCID colleagues and Jisc participated in a 2019 DCMI workshop in Portugal contributing to case studies exploring how ORCID can be expressed in Dublin Core metadata.
We attend and keep abreast of communities where standards and policy are discussed and developed, such as the RDA and REFEDs. We contribute and attend the discussion and development for the community – for example, PIDapalooza and the pidforum. Most recently, Jisc has been working with the Arts and Humanities and RDM communities with the aim that vocabularies in the ORCID registry and across the landscape reflect appropriate work types for non-text outputs.
The landscape has evolved
Throughout the life of the UK consortium, the context within which persistent identifiers sit has changed, not just in the policy and technical platforms as described above, but also in the wider milieu.
This has been evident in the way that the UK ORCID consortium itself has grown and changed over the years. From a membership of 45 in 2015, to 99 institutions in 2020, from 20 institutional systems integrated across that membership at the start to now 87 fully functional integrations in a variety of CRIS, repository, HR, and publishing systems. Consequently, the number of ORCID iDs associated with an .ac.uk email address is now five times as large, growing from 50,000 in 2015 to 250,000 in 2020.
In our community we embrace and support all members, from those who have been with us since the pilots over five years ago, to those just beginning their journey with us. One of the strengths of our community of practice is that it shares experience and knowledge freely so that new members can often find support and guidance from an institution that has already dealt with similar issues. It has also been a privilege to watch the community grow as an effective communicator, developing resources and reporting through systems and dialogues. The resources need to be effective for a wide range of audiences and purposes, from researchers through to research offices and senior leaders.
The range and complexity of outputs that ORCID identifiers are associated with has expanded as well, as new systems and ways of capturing information emerge – especially as we move to a data rich, information-centric open science model of scholarship. As such, the power of interconnected PIDs with the personal identifier of ORCID iD embedded, gives deeply intertwingled and more useful information. These potential benefits can be realized as the various systems and identifiers mature and adoption improves. Examples of associations with unique persistent person identities are: works (e.g. works identified with a DOI); organization (identified, for example with a ROR id); affiliations and workflows which can be examined via the events captured in PID Graphs. A project identifier such as RAiD allows you to associate people, data, works and funding with a long term effort, track the impact of efforts over the long term, and focus on the narrative, rather than a particular researcher or funding stream. This evolving landscape of interconnection allows us to build better, more effective scholarly machines, to do open research on a better, more cohesive and collaborative scale.
In five short years, the UK ORCID consortium has matured to become a community of practice that is part of a global society. As a community, we are working to transform how research information is collected and shared as part of an ongoing national and international change program. Building a persistent global research infrastructure is no small endeavor, and not one that can be undertaken by one party alone. A lot has changed over the last five years and we will continue to work together and with others, and especially our consortium community, to improve the infrastructure and associated strategies for the benefits of all.