Building Information Infrastructure with Research Institutions

Alice Meadows's picture

Research institutions, together with associations, funders, publishers, and vendors, played a vital role in the launch of ORCID five years ago. Two institutions (Boston University and California Institution of Technology) were ORCID launch partners and, together with six others (CERN, Cornell University, Harvard University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York University Langone School of Medicine, and University of Michigan), were among our group of 27 founding members, back in 2012.

Since then, not only has ORCID membership overall grown – from 27 at the end of 2012 to 719 (and counting!) today – the proportion of our members that are universities and research institutions has also increased significantly, from less than one third of all members to over three quarters (77%). Thanks, in large part, to the introduction of our consortia program in 2015, 551 research institutions are now ORCID members. This includes nine of the world’s top 10 universities!

But research institutions play a much larger role than simply being member of ORCID. They are our partners.  Simply put, as employers and educators of millions of the world’s researchers, they are integral to ORCID’s vision: a world where all who participate in research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected with their contributions and affiliations across disciplines, borders, and time.

Research institutions have a specific role to play in connecting authoritative affiliation information with their researchers. These connections include the name of the organization and its organization identifier, the name of the affiliated researcher and their ORCID iD, and the source of the information and its organization iD - all stored in the researcher’s ORCID record in an electronic format that is easy to share.  Researchers can share their affiliation information as they use their iD in research systems and workflows.  Not only does this reduce time manually entering data into forms, it ensures that organization names are used in a standard way, and embeds the source of this data into affiliation connections.  Taken together, this builds confidence and transparency in research information.

One vital element of an affiliation is the source: the organization with which a researcher is affiliated.  To make an affiliation connection in ORCID, an organization must include an organization identifier.  Ideally, these should be open, persistent, and resolve to a publicly-accessible electronic record with more information about the organization.

Clearly, persistent identifiers for organizations are a critical element of the ORCID vision.   ORCID has been part of a community effort to refine the structure, principles, and technology specifications for an open, independent, non-profit organization identifier registry, and we invite your comment on that effort (see this Request for Information).  We strive to provide services that are community responsive.  We support Ringgold and Crossref Funder Registry organization identifiers, and today added support for GRID.  We are working on functionality to enable our members to specify which organization identifier(s) they use when making connections, and will be exposing these identifiers in our API and user interface. We are also working to enhance how our data model handles affiliations - look for more information soon and, in the meantime, we encourage you to read and comment on our draft proposal.

ORCID is a community-based organization, and we make a point of meeting with many of you at ORCID workshops and other events around the world.  You tell us that our technical documentation is clear, that our support desk is responsive. You appreciate our efforts to clarify best practices through our Collect and Connect badging program. All that is good.  You are asking us to improve our guidance about how to prioritize what you do with ORCID. How to explain ORCID to senior administration and IT. And more and better resources for engaging with your researchers.

We are here for you!  Over the course of our anniversary month, we are launching a suite of new materials, starting today with these new and/or updated web resources:

Coming soon will be our new education and outreach resources: a complete overhaul of previous materials, and many new resources, including templates for outreach materials and communication plans that you can customize to meet the needs of your own institution. Towards the end of the month, we’ll be adding information for consortia, user stories, and more ORCID use cases.

We would love to hear your feedback on these new resources and your suggestions for additional materials you’d find useful – and we would also love to share what you have found to be effective at your own institution.  Please contact our community team – and thank you!