How to implement ORCID at a university?

Last week I presented on Imperial’s ORCID implementation at the German Library Congress in Leipzig, as part of a panel on researcher identifiers. The College implemented ORCID in 2014 when it generated identifiers for academic and research staff; see my ORCID article in Insights for details. We use Symplectic Elements, our Current Research Information System (CRIS), to track ORCID iDs and to allow new staff to register – a straightforward process.

However, not all universities have a CRIS and some do not even have an institutional repository (repository systems like DSpace often support ORCID). This has triggered the question, in Leipzig but also in discussions with colleagues in the UK and elsewhere, on how a university should implement ORCID if they do not have a system (or systems budget) for ORCID. Some universities are also not (yet) in a position to become institutional members of ORCID, so they could not integrate with ORCID even if their local systems supported it.

How should a university ‘implement’ ORCID if it has no suitable systems, no or not much of a budget and if it may not be able to become an institutional ORCID member in the immediate future?

This sounds daunting but there is actually a simple, straightforward solution. ORCID is only effective if researchers use their iD – at minimum they should share it with their publisher so the iD can be added to the metadata of their research outputs. Universities can simply encourage staff to self-register – it is free for individuals and only takes a minute. Neither systems support nor ORCID institutional membership are required. Whether to register with ORCID remains the choice of the individual academic, which also gets around lengthy institutional processes for defining policy and evaluating the legal background.

Simply set up a page describing the advantages of ORCID – see Imperial’s ORCID pages as an example-, and start highlighting ORCID as part of the academic engagement that libraries undertake anyway. If and when the university eventually becomes a member of ORCID and makes systems support available you can simply ask researchers to link their existing iD. At that point there may already be some outputs with ORCID in the metadata!

Speaking of systems: I would suggest to add ORCID to a system that gives researchers direct benefit, and to only add it to systems if and when there is a clear business need. For example: if you do not plan to report on ORCID through the HR system, then why implement ORCID there right now?

The key for success with ORCID is to ensure academics understand and use ORCID.


P.S. As part of the support for the UK ORCID consortium, Jisc are currently working on a more detailed decision tree for ORCID implementation, and we are discussing future events to support ORCID uptake.

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