Some background to what we’ve done at Northumbria so far and the approach we’re taking for our next steps.
I was very happy to see the January 2013 announcement that Jisc, RCUK, HEFCE and HESA, among others, were backing ORCID as a proposed solution for many of the author name problems I’d encountered in working with institutional repositories.
A major part of running a repository is identifying research produced by the University’s staff, then creating a record that ensures all authors are properly credited for their contribution. I am the Scholarly Publications Librarian at Northumbria University and manage our institutional repository, Northumbria Research Link (NRL), as part of my role. Looking at a document maintained to note tricky author names, as a reminder for the Scholarly Publications Assistants who handle the day-to-day administration of the repository, common issues emerge when authors:
- Share a name with another researcher publishing in the same titles
- Use phonetic spellings of names (for example, where the name originates in a different alphabet)
- Change their name due to changes to their marital status
- Adopt an entirely new name (most commonly seen when an author moves oversees and adopts a name common in the country they settle in)
- Use ‘oe’ instead of ‘ö’, ‘ue’ instead of ‘ü’ when publishing, often because the journal style guide requires this or because the journal submission system doesn’t support diacritics
- Vary their use of hyphens or initials in their name
ORCID seemed like a good fit, to not only resolve these author name issues but to also untangle the various proprietary identifiers authors have signed up for to publish and share their research (Scopus, ResearcherID, GoogleScholar). Each created a silo of information about the author, with public information often not well updated where it relied on manual retyping by the account owner.
I looked at ways of promoting ORCID, primarily by including links to the sign-up page in my team’s email signatures and printing flyers to use at library research support events. I then arranged for EPrints Services, our repository host, to add ORCID as a secondary identifier to NRL. This allows us to store our staff (but not postgraduate research student) ORCID numbers, though it is not linked to the registry.
After these initial steps, ORCID has been integrated into our research and development training activities. Wherever the Research Support team (the wider team Scholarly Publications belongs to) go, there are opportunities to talk about ORCID. This includes slides at the end of training sessions reminding researchers to sign up, ORCID “sign up booths” at events such as the Northumbria Research Conference, where we offered a £50 prize draw and successfully encouraged the Vice Chancellor to sign up.
ORCID sign-up stand at the Northumbria Research Conference.
Most researchers we’ve spoken to recognise the problem ORCID aims to solve, but many feel a sort of “account fatigue” – they’re fed up with signing up to new identifiers and research tools and have been told too many times that one particular system will be the final thing they ever need to sign up for. It’s a familiar problem:
We take a carrot and stick approach to combatting this sort of resistance.
The carrot: ORCID can help link all those other identifiers, accounts and systems and enable interoperability between them (less of the dreaded retyping).
The stick: ORCID has been so widely endorsed in the United Kingdom it may become a requirement to participate in some research activities – so sign up now and get used to using it.
Moving forward with ORCID at Northumbria, the plan is to continue to encourage voluntary sign up and provide support to users, rather than pursuing batch membership via the API (though we are pursuing trusted party membership of ORCID to test some different use cases). I feel that bulk record creation is likely to result in unused records and would rather have a smaller community of frequent ORCID users.
The pilot project enables us to extend our implementation of ORCID at Northumbria, giving PGRs an opportunity to sign up at an early stage of their research career and us the opportunity to include ORCID in the HESA return. We’ll also be able to integrate ORCID as a bibliographic standard in our open journal systems publishing platform. These are great opportunities for us to speak to researchers about ORCID and encourage well-used identifiers.