Meet ORCID Publisher Member, PLOS

Veronique Kiermer's picture

PLOS has been an enthusiastic supporter of ORCID since joining as a member in 2013. They recently adopted our peer review functionality, enabling their reviewers to get credit and recognition for the important work they do. In this interview, their Publisher and Executive Editor and ORCID Board Chair, Veronique Kiermer, tells us more about PLOS and ORCID.

Please can you tell us a bit about PLOS and your role there?

PLOS is a nonprofit Open Access science publisher. Our mission is to empower researchers to accelerate progress in scientific communication by ensuring the discoverability, accessibility, and recognition of their work. We publish seven journals with varying scopes and criteria.

I am the Publisher and Executive Editor at PLOS. Among other things, I work with the editorial and publishing teams across all journals to set the editorial direction and develop policies and programs that promote Open Science practices. We see Open Science as a critical ingredient to ensure the rigor and integrity of the content we publish, and also as an important element of how science is increasingly conducted. We work with researchers to facilitate best practices and to help them receive credit.  

When and why did you get involved with ORCID personally?

I first became involved with ORCID in the early days of the organization. At the time, I was working as Executive Editor at Nature Publishing Group, which was one of ORCID’s founding organizations. I immediately became a champion because I saw ORCID as a wonderful collaborative community initiative that tackles a central question for researchers and scholars: getting due credit for their work. Credit is central to academic success and yet the infrastructure to provide credit is suboptimal. 

As an editor I also knew how hard it can be to identify potential reviewers with common names, and I had spoken to many researchers who, having changed their name at some point in their career, were worried about their bibliographic record turning up incomplete.  

I knew ORCID was addressing an important problem and I liked the principles of openness and researcher control that they baked in at the beginning. ORCID is also a demonstration of how multi-stakeholder, cross-industry collaborations can work. I have volunteered in various capacities over the years to help the organization succeed in its mission and since 2017 I have served as Chair of the ORCID Board of Directors. 

And what about PLOS and ORCID - when, why, and how have you been engaging with us?

PLOS is a long-time member of ORCID. We first offered authors the option to enter ORCID iDs in the Editorial Manager submission system in 2013. We added ORCID sign-in in 2014, and in 2016 became one of the first publishers to sign the open letter committing to implement ORCID according to their best practices for publishers across our entire portfolio. Later that year, we began requiring ORCID for all corresponding authors at initial submission.

Last week, we were very excited to extend ORCID to our peer reviewers as well. PLOS will automatically update the ORCID record for reviewers who give permission, confirming that the individual has completed a review. 

Reviewers deserve credit and recognition for the work they do in assessing and improving manuscripts--but this activity has so far been mostly kept behind the scenes. At PLOS we use single-blind review as a standard, but allow reviewers to sign their peer review comments if they wish. Last month, PLOS started offering authors the option to publish the peer review history of their manuscript alongside their published article. If the peer reviewers have chosen to sign their comments, their names will appear in the published peer review history. We see this as one step towards elevating peer review to a scholarly output in its own right. 

For various reasons, however, many reviewers prefer to remain anonymous. The ORCID integration allows all reviewers to get credit for performing reviews regardless of their preference about revealing their names, or the authors’ preference about publishing reviews. Thanks to the new ORCID integration, researchers can now keep track of their peer review contributions, establish a profile (which is especially important for early career researchers), and receive some much-deserved credit for their work.

What impact has ORCID had in your community?

We require ORCID for corresponding authors as part of submission. When authors give us permission, we automatically update their ORCID record with their newly published article. This allows authors to treat their ORCID record as an authoritative professional record, which can then be used to update university web pages, fill out grant applications, and more. 

We also encourage coauthors to link their ORCID iD to their account so they can have the same benefits as corresponding authors. We have adapted our online display so ORCID iDs are linked to each author name, alongside their affiliations and contributions through the CrediT taxonomy terms. There are now over 185,000 ORCIDs registered in our submission system.

Anecdotally we’ve had some very enthusiastic feedback from authors who use ORCID, especially after the article is published. 

What more can we do to improve our support for you and your community? 

ORCID is increasingly present in many systems that researchers use, but the experience of using your ORCID iD on different platforms can vary, and is not always as seamless as it could be. I think it would be helpful if ORCID could work with various stakeholders and system providers to create seamless optimized experiences for researchers. We want ORCID to feel easy and efficient for the researchers who rely on it. Assuming researchers provide permission, we should be able to take needed information from ORCID records without researchers having to fill out forms!

Another request that I often hear from researchers is to have easier ways to populate their ORCID record with their previous publications. A mid-career researcher may have dozens of publications and works that predate ORCID, and gathering all these publications in their official record can be time consuming.

What's your favorite ORCID success story?

My favorite success story is still in the making: the ORBIT project. Led by major funders, this initiative aims to allow researchers to use ORCID records to facilitate the completion of grant applications and grant reports. I like it because, when completed, this project will be a great demonstration of the benefits of ORCID in the full loop of the research cycle. By linking their ORCID iD to their publication, researchers can automatically have their ORCID record updated, and then by using ORCID to fill in their grant reports, this in turn decreases the administrative burden. 

On a more personal note, I also love that ORCID has provided a solution for the many researchers who have changed their name at some point in their career. Changing one’s name is a deeply personal decision, yet I know many researchers for whom this decision is also influenced by what will happen to their bibliographic record. Before ORCID, changing your name meant that half of your career would disappear from online searches. ORCID provides a solution to that, and I’ve seen several smiles and grateful emails when I’ve proposed this as a solution to someone with this dilemma. 

Which three words best sum up ORCID for you?

Trust, efficiency, and, increasingly, credit.