A recipe for trust

JoshBrown's picture

As ORCID interoperates with more partners and data systems, it becomes more clear that trust works both ways: it must be mutual. Without trust in the provenance, persistence, and uniqueness of digital identifiers, the services and tools that the world of research increasingly relies on cannot operate.

In our work on the ODIN project, we’ve been discussing trust. We’re making sure that persistent identifiers for researchers and their data work well together across a whole range of systems. By using identifiers as the glue to link, say, members of a research team to a dataset coming out of their project and then to link those to resulting articles, the community can build genuinely useful new tools, and make existing services more efficient.

ORCID is working hard to earn and to keep the trust of our community. We have a carefully balanced board of directors, drawn from our membership across the research community. The board is not controlled by any one interest group and is by design majority non-profit.  It is focussed on providing transparent governance for ORCID.  In addition, our policies for maintaining openness and persistence of ORCID identifiers are in line with the trust criteria set out by the APARSEN project. These provisions place us one step ahead of many of the identifiers that you might already be using every day, sometimes without realising.

We achieved Trust-e certification, and in working to fulfil their requirements we reviewed how we were doing at sticking to our core principles – and in particular that researchers should have primary control of their records. Researchers create, edit, and maintain their records, and control the privacy settings of every piece of information in that record using a system that we have made as easy as possible to use. Andrew Cormack, from Ja.net in the UK observed that:

“ORCID seems well designed for the problems it’s intended to solve. It's quick and easy to use, and can provide the level of assurance needed to distinguish scholars and (given an appropriate verifier process) to verify their claims to authorship.”

Our users trust us to make sure that ORCID IDs are unique, persistent, interoperable, well governed, and open. What about the data that gets linked to the registry? How do the people and organizations you choose to share your data with know the source of your record information?  ORCID is making it easier for researchers to tell us which organizations they trust to add to or confirm the information in their record. ORCID metadata contains a source tag, making the provenance of each piece of data that is shared transparent. In addition, we are working on processes to allow third parties to validate record information.

We trust our users, partners, and members to make quality links between ORCID records and external information. Our users trust us to maintain and protect their identifier and linked data. Now, it is getting easier to allow organizations that you trust to help to validate and update the information your ORCID record. This means the services that we all rely on have an even better source of trusted data. Which, in turn, means that we can all trust them a little bit more.

Trust breeds trust. It’s that simple, and it’s incredibly important to us.