ORCID in Barcelona – Spring 2015 Outreach Meeting Highlights

Alice Meadows's picture

The recent ORCID-CASRAI meeting in Barcelona (18-19 May) was our best attended yet, with about 170 researchers, research administrators, publishers, vendors, and more gathering for two days of presentations and networking at the University of Barcelona. The theme was Research Evaluation, with an emphasis on emerging practice in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). In addition to panels, papers, and posters, we were delighted to host a successful Codefest (more on that in a future post).  We are very grateful to everyone who attended, especially to our 40+ speakers, Codefest participants, and poster presenters; to our sponsors for making the event possible; and to our hard-working Program Committee for putting together such a valuable and enjoyable event. In particular, we would like to thank Board member Marta Soler [orcid.org/0000-0003-4494-4508] and the University of Barcelona for hosting and supporting the event.

The University of Barcelona

Here, we share meeting highlights from the ORCID Board and staff. If you attended, we’d love to know what you thought – please tweet us (@ORCID_org) or post your comments on Facebook.  You can find the full program including slides (where available) on the meeting programme page.

The overarching theme of the comments from our Board and staff members was the rapid growth and achievements of ORCID since our launch in October 2012, perhaps best summed up by ORCID Board member Veronique Kiermer of Nature Publishing Group: “It was amazing to see the evolution of the concept of ORCID from the outreach meetings we held only a couple of years ago. It's no longer about if ORCID is integrated but when. That shows the tremendous progress that ORCID both as a concept and as an organization has achieved in the past few years.” Fellow Board member Kei Kurakawa of the National Institute of Informatics commented: “At the last ORCID outreach meeting I attended, discussions focused mostly on ORCID’s governance and structure, on enabling technology, and, in particular, on creating a sustainable business. The big difference between then and now is the outreach around the world.”

Three additional themes also emerged: the great opportunities ORCID offers for facilitating research evaluation; the key role ORCID plays in collaborating with the research community, and with other identifiers and standards; and the need to expand our outreach to researchers, and to focus on the value of ORCID to them.

With research evaluation as the overall theme of the conference, it’s not surprising that this came out so strongly in the feedback from our Board and staff. To quote Liz Allen of the Wellcome Trust (ORCID Board member): “It's great to see our diverse community coming together to seek some practical solutions to tracking research and understanding impact. ORCID has the potential to enable evaluators in resource poor settings to get real insight – with minimum effort - into the research and careers they have supported.” Liz is also keen to “use ORCID to help determine the important predictors of research impact.”

And Board member, Jonas Gilbert of Chalmers University of Technology agrees: “The ORCID-CASRAI conference gave a very rich perspective on the issues involved in managing research information. Infrastructures and processes are being built around identifiers and standardizations. It was also clear that information management is not an end by itself, but a means to communicate the richness of scientific impact.”

As ORCID’s Executive Director, Laure Haak, points out, “A key aspect of developing scalable evaluation solutions is the involvement of researchers themselves or, as final keynote Paul Wouters expressed it, the radical notion that researchers will want to be involved in evaluation because they'll learn something useful in the process.”

Our new Regional Director for Latin America, Lilian Pessao, “especially enjoyed the discussions around the SSH, and its impact beyond academia, alongside the issue of how to measure impact more scientifically”.  This was the first ORCID conference to focus explicitly on SSH – an area that often gets overlooked in discussions about evaluation and impact, although these are every bit as important in SSH as in the sciences, technology, and medicine.

ORCID’s commitment to collaborating with individuals and organizations across the research community was highlighted in many sessions and also evident in the many conversations that took place outside the conference sessions.  The key takeaway for ORCID’s Regional Director for Europe, Josh Brown, is that “drawing together a diverse group of delegates (from subject experts in evaluation to systems designers to practitioners of interdisciplinary work in the humanities) gave everyone a chance to see the issues from new perspectives.  We all came away with a better understanding of the practical and philosophical challenges of evaluating research, and discovered a few solutions that we hadn't known existed.”

His thoughts are echoed by our new Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, Matthew Buys, who commented that: “Many different institutions actively shared thoughts around interoperability, persistent identifiers, and overcoming common challenges globally.”  Liz Allen agrees, pointing out that: “Cross sector collaboration is key to bringing about improvements to the technology infrastructure we use to support research evaluation.  We need the users of research and the research evaluators to work actively with platform vendors so that business needs drive technological solutions.” 

Along with collaboration, outreach is equally critical to ORCID’s future success, as highlighted, for example, by Kei Kurakawa: “Nowadays, researchers who submit their manuscripts to most international journals know about ORCID identifiers, but many still don’t understand the benefits of registering. We need to get more feedback from researchers about their thoughts and expectations of ORCID identifiers and related ecosystems.”

Engaging researchers to register and use their ORCID iDs to keep track of their research contributions, reduce time spent on administrative tasks, and carry their information with them when they move organizations, is a key goal for ORCID. Thanks to a generous grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, we are ramping up our efforts on this front, starting with the onboarding of a global membership team and a communications director.

On behalf of the ORCID team, thank you for your support.  We look forward to seeing many of you at our next outreach conference, scheduled for November 3-4 in San Francisco.  Watch our events page for more information. 

Introducing the ORCID team