The ORCID Open Letter: One Year On

Alice Meadows's picture

The impetus for the ORCID open letter was, to quote Stuart Taylor of The Royal Society, the realization of several publishers and societies “that we could achieve more in terms of driving ORCID adoption if we worked together… By getting as many publishers as possible on board, we hope to get across a powerful message to the community that ORCID is of great benefit. Those benefits are only fully realized at high levels of adoption and when ORCID support is built in to all the systems researchers use (whether applying for grants, publishing datasets, acting as peer reviewers, applying for appointments etc).”  

The eight original signatories have since been joined by 19 more, including two organizations that had been requiring iDs since 2014 - JMIR Publications and ScienceOpen. There were a total of 25 signatories at the end of 2016 and today there are 27, with Springer Nature and Journal of IMAB signing in March.

Since the open letter is the first of it’s kind in relation to ORCID, we wanted to find out what impact it’s had in terms of ORCID registrations and usage, what sort of response there has been from authors, and what lessons have been learned - positive and negative. Our ORCID Open Letter: One Year On report, published today, includes feedback from many of the signatories, as well as our own data and analysis.

The open letter not only commits organizations to requiring iDs for authors, but also - critically - to adhere to several best practices, as recommended by ORCID: collecting authenticated iDs; including iDs in the publication metadata sent to Crossref, so that authors can benefit from having their ORCID record automatically updated; and using standard guidelines for displaying iDs in the published articles. Complying with these best practices helps ensure a positive author experience.

And it seems like, overall, this has very much been the case. Sixteen organizations have gone live with requiring ORCID iDs for their authors so far.  These organizations have generally followed our best practice guidelines, and since the open letter was published, over 250,000 articles have included ORCID iDs in their Crossref submission.  We see evidence of author delight when they report just how fast their new publications are processed to their ORCID account.  Further, authors are not reporting any substantive issues.  For example, as of mid-January, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has had just two substantive complaints out of more than 23,000 post-mandate submissions, while the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) had only received one complaint out of over 18,000 submissions. This backs up the strong support by researchers for requiring ORCID, from our 2015 community survey.

Unsurprisingly, all signatory organizations have seen an increase in ORCID registrations and usage on their manuscript submission systems. The chart below shows the pattern for several early signatories, whose requirement came into effect at different times during the year (note that there is no overall data available for The Royal Society until June 2016, six months after they started their requirement).

p13 open letter publisher activity.png

There are still some issues around the use of ORCID iDs in journal publishing workflows that need improvement, in particular in terms of managing duplicate records, addressing author confusion about Crossref, and verifying affiliations.  We need to do more to articulate the value of engaging with persistent identifiers, for both authors and editors, which will help with all of these issues.

We are working to address all of these areas - for example by streamlining our login and password reset processes -  and will be updating our best practice guidelines and providing more information on members.orcid.org over the coming months.

We welcome your comments and questions about the report.  If you or your organization are interested in signing the open letter, you can do so here.

We’ll leave you with some community feedback on the use of ORCID best practices in publications workflows.

First, these words from a Wiley journal editor as a reminder of the value of using ORCID iDs:

“YES!!!! Please, in the name of all that is holy and to keep me from going blind disambiguating names when doing scientometric work - we absolutely agree to require ORCID IDs for submission!”

And, from Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R:

“We at Ithaka S+R are in love with the auto-updating for ORCID records every time we deposit a new DOI. Wonderful to see an alert from ORCID sometimes come in even before a report is published.”