Empowering Graduate Student Research: Linking ORCID Identifiers to Theses and Dissertations

Rebecca Bryant's picture

In the past few weeks, we've seen some exciting new integrations that link ORCID identifiers with graduate student thesis and dissertation information. These developments, coming from the British Library and Texas A&M University, help connect scholars with their important, early career publications. A master's thesis or doctoral dissertation is often a researcher's first publication, but it often lacks the visibility of more formally published materials. Integration of ORCID identifiers in the electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) process helps to raise the visibility of these important contributions and also can provide a verifiable link with the student's graduate institution.

Tools to Link Theses with ORCID Identifiers

The British Library maintains the EThOS database, a national record of the more then 350,000 doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education institutions. EThOS supports the UK Government’s principle that publications resulting from publicly-funded research should be made openly accessible to the public, providing opportunities for further research. 

As part of the European Commission-supported ODIN Project, the British Library have now made it possible for researchers and scholars to import their thesis listed in the EThOS database into their ORCID record using a newly-developed search and link wizard. The tool currently pulls the thesis metadata from EThOS and pushes it into ORCID, but in the future it will also attach the user's ORCID iD to the EThOS record. By linking to document identifiers such as the EThOS persistent identifier assigned by the British Library, the ORCID-EThOS import tool increases the discoverability and visibility of the early work of researchers and scholars. 

Researchers may also link to their graduate work using a new figshare metadata enhancement that distinguishes theses and dissertations from other datasets and documents. Figshare was an ORCID Early Adopter; this recent addition of "thesis" to the list of figshare research output types allows users can upload their thesis or dissertation, obtain a DOI, and link it to their ORCID identifier.

Integration into Thesis and Dissertation Submission and Publication Processes

Texas A&M University (TAMU) is working to integrate the ORCID identifier at the point of deposit and publication, through integration in the Vireo Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) submission and management system, in which the student's ORCID identifier is connected to their thesis during document deposit. In the first phase of its integration, TAMU launched an outreach campaign culminating in the creation ORCID iDs for its 10,000+ graduate students. Following the May 2014 graduation period, TAMU will be pushing ETD information into ORCID on behalf of its students, creating verifiable links between identifiers for the student, their thesis, and their degree-granting institution. Together, integration and linkage of unique and persistent identifiers helps the student as they apply for fellowships, grants, and jobs, and also provides a means for the insitution to follow the scholarly work of their former students. TAMU has created a LibGuide about their project that is a useful resource for other organizations interested in creating ORCID identifiers for graduate students. In addition to enhancing ETD processes and databases to capture ORCID identifiers, TAMU is also working to embed ORCID identifiers into Vireo open source code, providing the tools for other Vireo users to integrate ORCID. Many U.S. doctoral-granting institutions currently use Vireo, including Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. 

Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, explains that “The goals of the Texas A&M ORCID integration project align well with efforts already in place at our university to engage graduate students in high impact experiences and ensure they are well versed on issues surrounding scholarly communications. In addition to enabling more effective management and tracking of our student’s scholarly outputs, the project has the potential to shape the research behavior of our future scholars through awareness building and graduate education.”

ProQuest is another major source for dissertations and theses, having published more than 4 million since 1938 with over 1,700 institutional publishing partners. Austin Mclean, ProQuest’s Director of Scholarly Communication and Dissertation Publishing says, “We are actively looking at assigning and integrating ORCID identifiers into ProQuest Dissertations resources and distribution services. Jeff Baer, ProQuest’s Vice President of Operations, Research Solutions Product Group adds “We will be embedding ORCID into our suite of products, including our service for the university research office, ProQuest Pivot which contains 3.2 million scholar profiles used to recommend targeted funding opportunities.  ProQuest recognizes the importance of ORCID, and after these initial steps, we will be incorporating ORCID into our wider ProQuest product portfolio."

Developing Best Practices

A core component of these efforts to embed identifiers in ETD processes is researcher engagement. Researchers and scholars must understand the value of registering and using their ORCID identifier. We have distilled best practices for coupling outreach and technical aspects of embedding ORCID identifiers in higher education systems in our Planning Guide for Institutions Creating ORCID Records for Researchers, Faculty, and Students.

We encourage you to learn more from your colleagues and our Adoption and Integration Program at our May 21-22 Outreach Meeting in Chicago. Registration is free!