ORCID is lucky in having an active and engaged community, including a group of Ambassadors who help us spread the word about ORCID in their organizations and wider communities. While most Ambassadors are individuals, we also have a small number of Institutional Ambassadors, including Knowledge E. Find out more about what they do and their ORCID-related activities in this interview with their Director of Research Services, Philip Purnell.
Please can you tell us a bit about Knowledge E?
Knowledge E was founded in 2012 to fill the gap created by countries with fast-growing academic communities that had the common goal of shifting quickly towards knowledge-based economies.
With the shift towards knowledge production, universities, research institutions and government entities identified the need to up-skill researchers and publishers to ensure high quality research is performed at local institutions, targeted at solving regional problems as well as increasing their contribution towards solutions to global issues and I have founded a division specifically dedicated to supporting the research community in this quest.
At Knowledge E training workshops, sharing best practices makes a huge difference to time constrained researchers who are coming under pressure to boost their publication outputs and bring in more research funding to their departments. These sessions help them improve their grant and article writing skills, understand their citation impact and improve their research management skills. Knowledge E is intensively building world-class universities in the region, supporting their research strategies and helping to promote the valuable work being done by an energetic and young research community in new and innovative ways as all universities are becoming focused on the various international university rankings.
When and why did Knowledge E first get involved with ORCID?
As soon as I joined Knowledge E in September, 2015 I detected an opportunity for a community-building initiative as there is a growing corpus of young, motivated researchers who are forward-thinking and very open to novel solutions. The researchers I have spoken to have all expressed willingness to create their ORCID record and institutions are very interested in keeping in sync with their faculty. In the Middle East, lots of people publish in languages other than English and they feel disappointed that it is not logged in many international systems, so they are reassured that ORCID provides a solution to issue surrounding not-indexing of Arabic literature and at the same time solves the problem of their transliterated name variants.
How does Knowledge E work with ORCID?
Knowledge E is in daily contact with research offices and academic libraries throughout the Middle East so we have helped to make connections for ORCID with universities through our vast network of relevant contacts. In addition, I have helped organize ORCID workshops in the region through my local knowledge of the most prestigious institutions and the most sought-after venues and popular timings for such events. Knowledge E attends the events and provides logistical support and I provide one or two lectures on scientometrics to place ORCID into the context of research evaluation and in the last event I invited a speaker from the largest national funding body to talk about grant writing and the potential for incorporating ORCID into their workflow so that researchers could see the future importance of ORCID and the reason to get started early on in their career. When I speak at other non-ORCID conferences and events or deliver bibliometrics workshops, I usually incorporate a short session on ORCID to help spread the word. This raises awareness, helps create contacts and identify potential hosts for future ORCID events.
What impact has ORCID had in your community?
So far, not much. There is a lot of work to do to encourage a significant body of researchers to register for an ORCID. I see that as a vital step; once people start talking about ORCID then institutions will find it easier to incorporate the APIs into their workflows and the publishers will find it easier to mandates use of ORCID in their submission process. A lot of faculty spend the majority of their time teaching and don’t get to invest as much time as they would like on research. The result is that not many people have the time to attend workshops and seminars and, until they do that, then they are unlikely to create new profiles because they can see it as an unnecessary burden. Once they interact with ORCID or an ambassador they realize the ease of setting up their record and the value to them and their research institution, but getting them to that first workshop is the key.
What can we do to improve our support for you and your community?
I think case studies work best. ORCID has a very proactive regional director in Matthew Buys and he shows success stories and I notice the moment the benefit clicks in the faces of the audience. As I mentioned before, it is important to motivate the research community to consider how ORCID can help them and I think that some heavy electronic marketing could be beneficial in the Middle East region where the population is young, intelligent and open. There is also a very high level of internet and mobile usage and the community is not averse to receiving electronic marketing of useful systems such as ORCID so I suggest an enhanced, carefully timed, and targeted campaign in the region.
What’s your favorite ORCID success story?
KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia). This is my favourite ORCID story because of the level of innovative integration. At KAUST, they never accept things as they are but always try to improve them using their own institution as a trial. The KAUST team is not afraid to try new things and initiatives like ORCID can only benefit from that kind of approach. In fact the difficulty is keeping up with and harnessing their innovative spirit, as they will surely provide invaluable input to the ORCID development team.
Which three words best sum up ORCID for you?
Simple, Connect, Accurate