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ORCID Rising in the Middle East and Africa

Gabriela Mejias's picture

The last 12 months have been exciting for ORCID in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), with some important developments for the adoption and implementation of ORCID in national and regional research infrastructure.

In June, the first consortium in the region was established. The South African consortium, led by the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), currently has seven members and was a significant step towards ORCID national adoption and integration. In October, we organized a workshop in Johannesburg in cooperation with TENET. Guy Halse, TENET Director: Trust & Identity Services, comments that, “the ORCID South Africa workshop in October was the first we've been involved in since the formation of the South African consortium and was a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with a broader community -- some of whom had no idea what an NREN (national research and education network) was. We took the opportunity to explain who TENET was, what we did, and how an ORCID consortium fitted into that picture. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with these communities”.

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a long-term supporter of ORCID, with a strong commitment to promoting ORCID in the region. “KAUST believes in the importance of ORCID in advancing scholarly communications and improving tracking and reporting of university research output” says Mohamed Baessa, KAUST Digital Repository Specialist. In October, they hosted the first Saudi National ORCID Workshop in Thuwal, “which brought together representatives from 10 Saudi universities and research institutes to discuss the role of ORCID in research publishing, evaluation, impact, and profiling” adds Baessa. KAUST librarians also delivered an introductory workshop about ORCID for the University of Business Technology in Jeddah.

Exciting news from the publishing sector in the region, was that the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and African Journals Online (AJOL) officially released  the Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS). The goal of this joint initiative is to assess and support the quality of the publishing processes of Southern journals.  The framework includes the display of ORCID iDs for authors as a criteria for the highest ranked (three stars) journals. We believe this is a very important step towards the adoption of iDs in publishing workflows in Africa.

In October, the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF)  launched their ORCID integration. In this first phase, NRF is collecting iDs and information from their researchers’ records during the application process. Since launch, more than 500 researchers have used their iD when applying for grants. We hope this will help encourage other funders in the region to embed ORCID iDs in their workflows.

Last, but not least,  Daisy Selematsela from the University of South Africa (UNISA) was selected by the Nominating Committee as a candidate for the 2018 Board Slate and has now been elected as a Board member. Selematsela, who has a strong background in research management, has been a very engaged OA and ORCID advocate in the country. Speaking about her candidacy and her vision for the region, she noted that, “developing nations are placing strong emphasis on Research and Innovation Strategies. The research performance of its researchers is impacted by its influence on knowledge generation, productivity and policy impact and sustainability for societal benefit. This requires a collaborative process for the researchers and visibility of outputs that is enhanced through the ORCID platform. Our research is addressing national imperatives that align to the MDGs [United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals] for global impact”.

We are delighted with the continued community engagement and support for ORCID in the Middle East and Africa and look forward to working with organizations and individuals in the region to achieve greater interoperability and adoption of persistent identifiers in the research ecosystem.

And, to all the researchers, librarians, managers, advocates and developers of research organizations, associations, publishers, and funders in the region: are you planning to build an integration with ORCID and need help? Do you have any important news or outreach event to share? Would you like to propose a new development? Would you like to learn more about ORCID? Contact us! We are committed to strengthening and supporting our community and welcome your feedback and ideas.