Funding agencies, universities, and research institutes all face challenges of reliably identifying their researchers and monitoring outcomes over time. All researchers—and especially early career researchers seeking to establish their careers—need to be reliably connected to their research outputs, without the confusion common, changeable names creates. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by grants also have specific challenges: if they are not the PI, they are not included in grant information; they may not even know which grant(s) they are supported by; and as a result, the existing challenges of reliably tying publications to grant funding are even more problematic. The use of the unique, persistent ORCID identifier can help support outcomes tracking and evaluation and has the potential to considerably reduce the substantial data cleaning, linking, and standardization challenges funding and research organizations face. A recent ORCID Webinar brought together presenters from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, and Texas A&M University to share the challenges, benefits, and integration of ORCID within funder and university systems.
Funding Organizations are Using ORCID
In 2012, the U.S. National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group made recommendations that the NIH should take to support a sustainable biomedical research workforce in the U.S. In the course of its study, working group members were “frustrated and sometimes stymied” by the lack of quality, comprehensive data about biomedical researchers. In response, NIH has recommended the development of a simple, comprehensive tracking system for trainees, implemented a shared, voluntary researcher profile system called the Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv), and encouraged the adoption of unique, persistent ORCID identifiers for researchers. Additionally, NIH has begun collecting data about individuals in graduate and undergraduate student project roles who are supported by NIH grants. In the recent webinar, NIH Senior Scientific Advisor for Scientific Research Walter Schaffer provided an overview of NIH’s efforts to improve the tracking of early career researchers, and how it is integrating ORCID within its systems.
Other funding organizations like Autism Speaks are also incorporating the ORCID identifier into their grant application systems, in order to disambiguate grantees from that of others and better maintain an online record of grantees’ research accomplishments across their careers. For new applications, Autism Speaks requires all principal investigators, co-investigators, and mentors to register with ORCID and to allow Autism Speaks limited access to their ORCID account.
We encourage researchers to link their ORCID record to funding awards using our new funding module. Just log into your account, and scroll to the new Funding section in your record. Once there, you may:
- click the Add Funding Manually button to type in funding metadata into a form, or
- click the Import Funding button to use the ÜberWizard to search over a million awards made by funders around the world and import your awards.
Scholars and researchers should also actively add their educational and employment affiliations to their ORCID records.
Universities Promoting ORCID to Early Career Researchers
Research universities like Texas A&M (TAMU) are similarly responding by incorporating the ORCID identifier into their systems, enabling the improved identification, data collection, and career outcome tracking of students and postdoctoral researchers–and educating these early career researchers about the benefits they will receive from a unique, persistent research identifier. In the recent webinar, Associate Professor Gail Clement, who is leading TAMU’s Adoption and Integration Project team, speaks about the importance of ORCID identifiers for graduate students, and how they used the ORCID API to create identifiers for their 10,000 graduate students in March 2014. As part of their project, they are also embedding ORCID identifiers into the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) deposit process, and following May 2014, they will be linking the TAMU ETDs to their students’ ORCID records.
Many other universities around the world are incorporating ORCID into their repositories, researcher information systems, HR, and more. In the United Kindgon, Jisc, in collaboration with the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) is launching a pilot project to develop best practices for a potential UK-wide adoption of ORCID in higher education. To learn more, we encourage you to consult the growing toolkit of resources available on our website, including university use cases from our Adoption and Integration program.
An ORCID identifier stays with a researcher throughout their career–as they move from graduate school, to postdoc, and beyond. It reliably connects researchers to their research outputs, improves the discoverability of their resesearch, and also improves information sharing–offering us all better data in the future. Each unique ORCID identifier connects a researcher to their continously evolving affiliations and research outputs, even as they change names or institutions. And because ORCID is an open organization, we are committed to making public data available to the community. One of our 10 principles that guides our work states:
All data contributed to ORCID by researchers or claimed by them will be available in standard formats for free download (subject to the researchers’ own privacy settings) that is updated once a year and released under a CC0 waiver.
To this end, ORCID releases an annual Public Data File to ensure that all scholarly communication stakeholders, including organizations that are not members of ORCID, have broad access to what we hope becomes a vital part of the scholarly communication infrastructure. We publish this file once per year under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal public domain dedication. This means that, to the extent possible under law, ORCID has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the Public Data File. Member organizations may access this public data, as well as data individuals have shared with them as a trusted party, at more frequent intervals. By encouraging ORCID adoption by early career researchers and also embedding ORCID identifiers within their systems, universities and funding organizations can more easily and reliably identify the researcher they educated or funded years after the fact, offering improved information about program outcomes.