Embedding ORCID Across Researcher Career Paths – Final project summary

At Northumbria, the University Library has been proactively promoting and supporting ORCID, both as an identifier in the institutional repository Northumbria Research Link (NRL) and as part of a well-established research skills programme. Our approach to the pilot project was to establish a partnership with stakeholders from around the University to explore the broader implementation of ORCID at different stages of the research lifecycle and researchers’ career paths.

Outputs, workflows, measurable benefits

Our project involved two use cases, exploring practical workflows that would maximise the benefits of ORCID registration both for the institution and the individual.

An issue we identified with our existing approach to ORCID was that our systems tend to sit at the end of the research process, for example, authors submit to NRL once their research has been published. This meant that, though we could store ORCID numbers, they were not then shared with other systems in the University. Our first use case aimed to test the idea that moving ORCID input to closer to the source of data flow through the enterprise architecture, to enable multiple reapplication in different systems. Moving ORCID Upstream added the identifier as an additional field in the postgraduate research student record.

Moving ORCID Upstream has been successfully achieved through collaboration between the University Library and Graduate School, as part of the latter’s project to develop additional functionality in e:Vision, the web based student portal of SITS. An additional tab was added in MYPGR (our installation of e:Vision) for students to manage their project approval, annual progression and research skills development activity. This tab now also includes a field for the student to add their ORCID, with a link enabling them to go to the ORCID site to sign up. First year postgraduates in 2014/15 must include an ORCID in order to receive project approval for their PhD and continuing students will be required to do so at their next annual progression point. This approach ensures that our postgraduate researchers have ORCID from an early stage in their research career, and places their identifier in SITS, enabling the University to include it in the 2015 HESA return.

The University Library’s Learning Support team has produced extensive guidance in multiple formats for students using MYPGR, including how to sign up for ORCID. Support is provided by the Library’s Scholarly Publications team. Further discussion of this use case is available on the project blog, and was shared in a webinar.

The second use case, Enhancing registration in campus based publishing partnerships, aimed to incorporate ORCID in an Open Access journal publication service managed in our School of Law and administered by the Scholarly Publications team in the University Library. Three Open Access law journals have been published with Northumbria Journals, which operates on the Open Journal Systems software. Though it is possible for researchers to add their ORCID when they register to write, edit or review for a journal, we have experienced technical issues with our installation that have prevented us from opening our journals for submission through the OJS workflow. We have not progressed with further integration of ORCID until we have done further work with the editors-in-chief of the journals, to ensure a streamlined user experience for authors submitting to their journals.

Lessons learned / lessons for other institutions

Moving ORCID Upstream has acted as a pilot for further ORCID implementation at Northumbria, providing a model for self-service registration and entry into a central part of the institution’s information architecture, supported by the University Library. This could be extended to include other staff or student groups, as relevant to the research life cycle or the requirements of external bodies such as HESA or research funders.

We’ve established an approach to ORCID that is applicable to other use cases, by forging partnerships with stakeholders elsewhere in the University who could make use of ORCID and offering our skills and experience in supporting researchers through training in a range of formats and providing an expert enquiry service through the Scholarly Publications team. This applies to a number of other services who would be well placed to include ORCID at key stages of the research data lifecycle, but may not be able to provide one-to-one support for users.

One of the aims of our project was to continue building on existing work to promote ORCID among our research community, including pop-up stalls at events, inclusion in sessions at our Researcher Development Weeks, a presentation at the annual Research Conference, posters, flyers, and including our own ORCIDs in signature blocks. More information about our ORCID advocacy and support for users is provided on our project blog. Through this work, we found a number of issues with getting researchers to engage with ORCID, for example:

  • Academics feel overwhelmed with the range of identifiers available to them and often feel that there are few benefits to having these identifiers. They’re wary of signing up for another, but are usually interested in the idea that ORCID can be used to link existing identifiers and reduce the need for retyping information into different systems.
  • Some of the reticence among academic colleagues is that ORCID is both an identifier and a profiling service. A member of our project team, David Young, wrote a blog post addressing this. Researchers feel that commercial profiling services such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu are providing them with an adequate presence online and do not wish to set up another profile. We try to explain to these colleagues that ORCID’s primary use is as an identifier, and they can engage as much or as little as they like with their record once they have it.

We’ve also learnt a lot through the technical and legal aspects of our ORCID membership. We had amendments made to our membership agreement following advice from Legal Services, primarily relating to the ‘hold-harmless’ clause (which involves agreeing not to hold each other responsible for any damages or legal liability as a result of the agreement) and the US jurisdiction clause. Both were removed from our agreement without any further negotiation.

In order to proceed with further implementation, we will need to engage more with our IT Services or develop technical capacity in-house to work with the API. Though our approach to ORCID will continue to be self-service registration rather than bulk creation of IDs, we would like to make the process of registration more streamlined for users, taking place within our web environment, with an element of authentication of IDs in our local systems. Membership of ORCID gives access to the API and introductory support from the outreach team, but without technical support in-house we have not been able to make use of the API as part of our project. This is something for us to explore as part of our continued work with ORCID and a recommendation for Jisc to investigate the levels of support institutions will need to implement ORCID.

Opportunities and possibilities

A priority for us it to continue with our work on the Enhancing registration in campus based publishing partnerships use case, working with our editors-in-chief to create workflows for submission to their journals that are intuitive for the user, including ORCID registration and entry. This will involve further development work both for OJS and making use of the ORCID API, in partnership with IT Services.

We can see, as discussed as a lesson learnt from the project, the potential to roll out our current model of registration to other groups of staff and students. Again, we aim for further technical development to find ways to make this process more efficient for the user.

We can also see the potential for other uses of ORCID, including enhancing data held for our institution in the Scopus database. This could increase the accuracy of our reporting on research performance in Scival, as part of a new bibliometrics service offered by the Scholarly Publications and Research Skills teams in the University Library.

There are many opportunities for using ORCID at our institution and learning from other implementations. At Northumbria we are interested in the idea of a national membership to ORCID and in scoping support for this membership through Jisc.

This report is also available to download on Northumbria Research Link: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/21478


About Ellen Cole

Scholarly Publications Librarian at Northumbria University.
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