Imagine you need to track down the author of an academic paper, and their name was “J. Smith”. If the area of research is specific enough or if J. Smith has referenced their article on their website it may not be too hard, but otherwise you might struggle. Are you looking at the Jane Smith from Computing, a J. F. Smith working on HPC or Professor James F. Smith – or are the latter two maybe the same person?

Now, you may think your name is unique enough in your area of research to suggest that others can easily find you. Unfortunately, even that does not always guarantee success. Take for instance Henry Rzepa, a chemistry professor at Imperial College London. When you search for his name on the DataCite site, you will find a “Henry S Rzepa”, “Henry S. Rzepa” “Rzepa, Henry” and “Rzepa, Henry S.” Is it safe to assume they are all the same Henry?

Problems like these are not uncommon when trying to identify creators of academic outputs, and different languages, typos, spelling conventions etc. add to the difficulty. ORCID, the Open Research Contributor ID, was designed to address this issue by making authors of research outputs easy to identify through a digital identifier – the ORCID.

ORCID logo

ORCID essentially does two things for authors: It gives them a unique identifier (say 0000-0002-8635-8390) which they can add to outputs to claim authorship. Secondly, ORCID provides a registry to which the outputs can link: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8635-8390.  The author owns the profile in the registry and can decide what information to make publicly available – this is a personal identifier and the owner has full control over it, not the host institution.

ORCID does not only help academics to be identifiable as authors of an output, it also offers the promise to automate admin work for them. When funding bodies implement ORCID – something not only UK funders are currently looking into – it may be possible to just share the ORCID instead of generating publication lists and/or filling in forms that could be auto-populated from ORCID. ORCID is still fairly new, but there are already some practical implementations. For example, Symplectic Elements, the CRIS system used at Imperial, supports ORCID: when it comes across an article with an ORCID it can automatically add this article to a publication list, no need for the author to manually claim the article (this feature will soon be rolled out across the College).

Despite being a relatively new initiative, ORCID has already seen considerable uptake across the globe. There are now 850,000 authors registered, and about a thousand of them have used an Imperial College email account to do so – this demonstrates that authors see ORCID as a valuable service.

In order to support its academic community, Imperial College became a member of ORCID. ORCID is a not for profit membership organisation, so it is not at risk of being bought by another company. The College has also joined a pilot community of UK universities working with Jisc, ARMA and ORCID to develop best practice, share approaches and increase uptake of ORCID. This post briefly outlines what we are planning to do as part of this project. It forms part of the Jisc reporting requirements, so it also deals with some of the technicalities such as the budget.

Jisc logo

Aims, Objectives and Final Output(s) of the project

The aim of the project is to increase awareness and uptake of ORCID across the scholarly community at Imperial College. The objectives are:

  • Communicate the benefits of ORCID at Imperial College.
  • Roll out an updated version of Symplectic Elements that supports ORCID.
  • Work with Symplectic to improve the ORCID implementation, in particular setting of institutional affiliation and sharing of information during the registration process.
  • Plan and implement bulk generation of identifiers as a service to staff who haven’t already registered.

The aim and objectives will be achieved within the context the College’s Open Access project, and as part of the community of the Jisc-ARMA ORCID pilot project.

Wider Benefits to Sector & Achievements for Host Institution

Imperial College is keen to support its staff to make best use of digital technology in research practice and scholarly communication. ORCID is a solution that helps academics to claim authorship of scholarly outputs, and to be easily and uniquely identifiable as authors. It addresses the problem of the ambiguity of person names, and opens up the potential to improve sharing of research information across systems and organisations – in particular with funding bodies and publishers. This could have the potential to save all parties time and effort and to increase the quality of data relating to research outputs.

The expected benefits for the sector are as follows:

  • Documenting the experiences with bulk generation to enable others to decide whether it is the right model for them;
  • Contributing to improved ORCID support in Symplectic Elements;
  • Increasing awareness of ORCID with College partner organisations;
  • Strengthening ORCID by adding another institutional membership;
  • Contributing to ORCID’s momentum by increasing uptake in the scholarly community;
  • Sharing communications, guidelines, publicity and promotional materials;
  • Sharing experience of integration with institutional systems

Project Team Relationships

  • Project owner: ORCID Project Board, on behalf of the Open Access Publishing group and the Provost’s Board
  • Project Director: Steven Rose (Vice Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences)
    Responsible for the business case, benefits realisation and responding to escalated issues
  • Project Manager (Business Delivery): Torsten Reimer (Open Access Project Manager, Research Office)
    Responsible for communicating with the Project Board, assisting with eliciting business requirements and ensuring the proposed solution meets the business need. Also responsible for rolling-out the solution and organising communications.
  • Business Advisors: Ruth Harrison (Team Leader (Education & Research Support), Library), Henry Rzepa (Professor, Chemistry) & Ian McArdle (Research Systems and Information Manager, Research Office)
    Responsible for providing the requirements and business scenarios to help define and test the solution.
  • Senior Supplier: David Ebert (Programme Manager, ICT)
  • Project Manager (Technical Delivery): Sue Flockhart (Project Manager/Analyst, ICT)
  • Developers as required

Projected Timeline

  • Engagement with pilot programme: May-January 2015
  • Initial investigation: May-July
  • Technical planning: August-September
  • Communications: September-January
  • Technical delivery (bulk creation): October (estimate)
  • Review and final report: January 2015

Budget

The College covers most of the cost of ORCID implementation from its own budget, in particular the project management and the ORCID membership fee. The Jisc project budget is used for engagement with the pilot programme, including blogging and providing a case study, and participating in relevant events (£4K), and for supporting the technical development and roll out of bulk generation via the ORCID API (£6K).

 

 

 

2 Responses to “What is ORCID, and what is Imperial College doing about it?”

  1. Andy Mabbett says:

    I’m the Wikipedian in Residence at ORCID.

    Wikipedia has hundreds of articles about people associated with Imperial College. It would be great to add their ORCIDs to those articles.

    Any of your staff or students who edit Wikipedia can add their ORCID to their user pages, too.

    Drop me a line if you need help.

  2. Torsten Reimer says:

    Hi Andy, thanks for your comment, and also for the chat on Twitter. It is an interesting suggestion and we will think about how we can best feed that into our communications activities around ORCID. Showing that ORCID support is increasing should help with getting more colleagues interested.

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