Q&A with ORCID Executive Director Chris Shillum
As we close out 2022, our 10th year since the launch of the ORCID registry, staff writer Élan Young sat down with Executive Director Chris Shillum to capture some of his thoughts about his highlights for the year, as well as some things he expects ORCID to do in 2023.
What are ORCID’s top 5 accomplishments this year?
This year was full, there’s no doubt about it. The absolute highlight was the launch in May of an exciting new endeavor to help level the playing field in ORCID adoption internationally with our Global Participation Program. This initiative was created to support ORCID’s efforts to bridge the participation gap and improve equity of access to interconnected research infrastructure in currently under-represented regions, namely in the Global South. It includes two elements: the Membership Equity Program provides fee discounts for organizations in countries with lower and lower-middle income economies who join ORCID as members of a consortium, and the Global Participation Fund, which is a grant program designed to build capacity for ORCID community outreach and development and improved technical integration of open source platforms. With the kind support of ORCID’s GPP Community Partners, we raised nearly US$ 1M, which we expect will allow us to run two grant cycles per year for at least the next three years. We put out our first call for applications in September, resulting in a high quality and quantity of applications, and we will be announcing the first tranche of awardees very soon. Having read many of the proposals personally, I am humbled by the enthusiasm among our community for improving equity and visibility for researchers in countries with lower income economies through increased adoption of ORCID as a result of the Global Participation Fund.
Early in the year, we launched ORCID’s Researcher Advisory Council (ORAC) to provide valuable perspective and advice to ORCID’s staff and Board so that we can help researchers spend more time conducting their research and less time managing it. This year, ORAC has provided valuable advice to our Product team on how to better reflect academic service in ORCID records, and their input will be reflected in changes we plan to implement next year.
In the US, we have seen a surge in interest in ORCID among the government funding and research management communities, following the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s publication of implementation guidance on a previously issued presidential memorandum on research security policy. This requires US government research agencies “to implement DPIs [Digital Persistent Identifiers] into their electronic systems and processes as quickly as is feasible with appropriate protections for personally identifiable information.” Although ORCID is not specifically mentioned by name, ORCID is the only system which currently meets all of the criteria established in the guidance.
And on this topic, a recent report issued jointly by the Australian Research Data Commons and the Australian Access Federation points to the huge savings of time and money which can be reaped through strategic adoption of ORCID and other PIDs (Persistent Identifiers) at the national level. In Australia alone, the report estimates savings of approximately AU$24 Million and 38,000 Person Days per Year from the elimination of repetitive data entry alone.
One of our priorities is to make the ORCID registry easier to use for researchers, and to that end, we’ve recently launched “In Product Messaging” that provides context-sensitive guidance to users while they are in their records. Initially, this feature prompts newly registered users to add their works and affiliations to their records, and also invites users who have only a single email address registered with ORCID to add a second one so that they don’t lose access to their record if they move to a new institution. We plan to greatly expand this feature in the coming year to make it even easier for researchers to fully populate their records and to help them grant permission so their institutions can write data to their records on their behalf.
This year we also added two new members to our roster of global consortia. In March, we welcomed the new Chilean Consortium with 16 members and led by Corporación CINCEL. Additionally, we were pleased to announce during Open Access Week the formation of our Ukraine Consortium. The State Scientific and Technical Library (SSTL) of Ukraine, supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, took the lead in a national ORCID consortium, initiating with 17 members, including the main national universities. This is a tremendous achievement, and we are pleased to play a small role in helping Ukrainian researchers stay connected in a time of great difficulty for them. Finally, we ended the year with a new consortium in Latvia led by the Higher Education and Science Information Technology Shared Service Centre. The consortium is composed of the major universities in Latvia: University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, and Riga Stradiņš University.
What are some personal highlights or favorite moments from this year as the ED?
One of the highlights for me personally was getting a chance to reconnect with staff at our annual retreat, which was held just outside of Milan, Italy, this year. It was the first time I got a chance to meet many of the staff in person, since my first year as Executive Director was the year the pandemic hit (2020). It felt great to be able to be in person with most everyone at ORCID, since we are a fully remote operation with staff members from 13 countries.
One of the most visible things we did was throw our own birthday party. With the 10th Anniversary of launching the ORCID registry this year, we found a few ways to celebrate. First we hosted a webinar called ORCID at 10: 10 years of ORCID in the PID infrastructure, where our guests spoke about how the iD was created, how our use cases have evolved over time, and the challenges we faced (and overcame!) People may have also seen a history document compiled by John Lehmann-Haupt, a writer familiar with the PID universe. The result is ORCID’s First Decade: From Startup to Sustainability, which covers aspects of ORCID’s history in a little more depth and pulls in first-person perspectives from founding Board members and others who were there.
This year was a year of reflection with ORCID’s 10th Anniversary. What are some things to look for in 2023?
As we move into the second year of our 2022–2025 strategic plan, we will continue to focus on our four themes of Increasing Value for Members, Increasing Value for Researchers, Increasing Global Participation and Upholding Trust and Integrity. Given the increasing focus on trustworthiness and integrity of research among the scholarly community, particularly highlighted during the COVID Pandemic, we hope to be able to announce a pilot with a number of publishers and vendors on the use of ORCID Trust Markers in the editorial process shortly. For researchers, we have a number of initiatives planned to make ORCID easier to understand and encourage active participation.
On the global participation front, we are looking forward to being able to highlight and showcase best-practices and success stories from our GPF awardees through content development and in-person and virtual events. And finally, we hope to make a step change in the resiliency of the ORCID infrastructure by moving to a new cloud-based hosting provider. We will have more to say about our plans for 2023 in our annual virtual town hall meetings, shortly to be announced for dates in March.
Let’s stay connected
As Chris said, we will have lots to share in 2023! Make sure you’re following us on LinkedIn and Facebook and are signed up for our weekly blog digest so you are up to date on everything you need to know, from new feature releases, community events such as our virtual town hall, exciting new initiatives, and success stories and use cases from our members across the globe.