Establishing ORCID Consortia from the Center

Josh Brown's picture

One of the best things about ORCID is our community. We work on nuts and bolts solutions with local and national communities in dozens of countries around the world. We have an amazing global network of members and partners working with us to build identifiers into the heart of research systems and tools, and improve the openness, transparency and reusability of research information. Each country has its own unique set of priorities and challenges.  By exploring these together we enrich our understanding of the ways research information can be shared, and ensure that the ORCID services we provide to our members and the research community are genuinely useful.

At the core of the ORCID mission is the name ambiguity problem. In essence, researchers mark their contributions by attaching their name to them; but names are not unique, they change, and they can be recorded in different ways. This problem is universal, which is why ORCID is a global, open research initiative. But the name ambiguity problem presents itself differently in varied practical and policy contexts.

In this blog post, we look at how three countries have adapted ORCID to their situation, using our consortia program to address specific national needs. Each started out with specific priorities and problems that shaped the way they chose to build ORCID into systems and services and, ultimately, affect the working lives of researchers.

Italy: Creating a national infrastructure for research evaluation

The Italian consortium, led by Cineca, was one of our first national consortia and was at the time by far the largest, with 74 university and institute members at the outset.  The consortium was established to help to improve the handling and availability of data for the Italian national research evaluation exercise, the VQR. Cineca, alongside CRUI (the Conference of Italian University Rectors) and ANVUR (the national evaluation agency) funded a project to ensure that at least 80% of Italian researchers and postgraduate students registered their ORCID iD in the national publications database, and linked their publications going back to 2006.   

An initial test by VQR staff, reported at the ORCID Outreach meeting in 2015, found that, using the Hub, the time required by researchers and administrators to report on their contributions went from days to minutes, reducing frustration with the evaluation process, engaging researchers in ensuring they were accurately represented, and improving the quality of the data not just in the Hub but also in external databases widely used for search and discovery.

Following this positive result, Cineca proceeded with creating a national ORCID Hub. Based on DSpace-CRIS technology, the Hub provided a gateway for researchers to register for an iD and link it to the national publications database and to local systems. The launch was phased, with 5-10 universities per week connecting to the ORCID hub and engaging with their researchers. Each week there was a corresponding surge of activity as researchers registered and used an open search and link wizard to connect their iD to their existing works in Scopus and import metadata into their ORCID record. By the end of the 2-month launch period, more than 60,000 researchers, about 80% of Italy’s university researchers, registered via the national ORCID Hub (Figure 1).

Figure 1.  Timeline of ORCID registrations at consortium launch.

New Zealand: Reducing technical barriers to foster information sharing

In New Zealand, a coalition of national bodies, including funders, government departments, and research associations, published a statement of principle in support of national ORCID adoption, as a core component of their National Research Information System.  

Figure 2. New Zealand ORCID Joint Statement of Principle, 2015.

Like Italy, New Zealand decided on a consortium approach. Led by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and centrally funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), the consortium launched in 2016 with 34 founding members. It has the most diverse membership of any ORCID consortium, with universities, polytechnics, private and crown research organisations, health boards, government and research funders all taking part in creating an inclusive research and innovation ecosystem. During the launch event, more than a few people noted that it was the first time all of these parties had been in the same room.  

At the heart of the New Zealand approach is ensuring that the benefits of ORCID adoption, as outlined in their statement of principle, are equally available to all New Zealand organisations and researchers, regardless of size or technical resource. To ensure that all the consortium members can productively engage with ORCID, the Ministry has provided support for the development of the New Zealand ORCID Hub, which expands on the Italian model to enable all universities, research institutes, and funding bodies to easily collect authenticated ORCID iDs and connect information to ORCID records. Its core function is to provide all New Zealand ORCID Consortium members with the ability to make authoritative assertions of their relationship with researchers on the researcher's ORCID record.  The Hub launched in 2017, and is now expanding to include assertions of funding and other relationships. As open source technology, what New Zealand builds is also available for others to repurpose in their own contexts.

Norway: Leveraging existing information platform

Our recently announced consortium in Norway is led by the National Center for Systems and Services for Research and Studies (CERES). The Center manages, develops, maintains, and operates student administration and research information systems and services on behalf of Norwegian higher education sector and Norwegian research communities, such as national research institutes and health care institutions. The Center reports directly to the Ministry of Education who approved and funded the consortium for all members in December 2017.

The basis for establishing the consortium was underpinned by the national goals and guidelines for open access to research articles, in which the aim of the government is to make all publicly funded Norwegian research articles openly available by 2024. In particular, the government aims to improve the functionality associated with depositing an article via the national CRIS (Cristin) and to investigate how a national repository can be realised.

The Norwegian ORCID consortium launched with 90 institutional members, comprised of universities, research hospitals, funders, and government organisations.  Its first task is integrating ORCID into the existing national CRIS -- which already enables sharing of research information between organisations in Norway --  to improve information sharing and efficiency and convenience within the country, and to enable information to flow alongside Norway’s globally mobile research community.

ORCID at the core

What these three countries have in common is that they have integrated ORCID as a core component of their national research information policies.  Each has acknowledged the fundamental importance of engaging researchers and organisations across the spectrum of research and innovation. Each has leveraged central support to build practical, inclusive, technical solutions respectful of the local context, which also connect into global research information infrastructure.