Monday, 9 January 2017

Impact of Social Sciences – Persistent identifiers – building trust and supporting openness in digital scholarship


Persistent identifiers – building trust and supporting openness in digital scholarship

inevitable ambiguities arising from using names can hamper our ability
to reliably and transparently discover, connect, and access resources.
If we’re to fully realise the potential of open, digital scholarship
then automatic, resolvable connections between researchers,
institutions, research outputs and funders are essential. ORCID’s Josh Brown and Alice Meadows
outline how persistent identifiers are able to make these connections,
allowing for a seamless, unambiguous, and – crucially – trustworthy
exchange of information between systems. Adoption of persistent
identifiers is increasing all the time and should boost the openness of
research and facilitate collaborations.
Names are messy! Whether for people,
places, or things, names are rarely unique, they may change over time,
and they exist in many variations and character sets. This messiness
causes problems for open research. It is challenging to make an
unambiguous connection between you, the researcher, and your works – two
of the most basic elements in scholarly communications. This, in turn,
affects our ability to reliably and transparently discover, connect, and
access resources – all fundamental to open research.
Luckily, persistent identifiers (PIDs) can
help address these challenges. Identifiers such as ISBNs (international
standard book numbers) have been around for a while and are adding even
more value as scholarly communications move online. And the widespread
adoption of resolvable DOIs (digital object identifiers) is now
revolutionizing the discoverability and usage of publications – in
particular, research articles. CrossRef, the leading provider of scholarly DOIs that has minted more than 80 million identifiers since it launched in 2000, and DataCite,
which has minted 8 million DOIs for datasets, are two great examples of
organizations that are helping facilitate the search for and access to
content globally.
Of course, ISBNs and DOIs are just two of
the many identifiers used in the research community to reliably identify
researchers, their organizations, funding, and contributions. It’s when
this information is connected in a machine-readable format that the
seamless, unambiguous, and trustworthy exchange of information between
systems starts to become a reality. As we wrote in our recent paper:
“To fully deliver the potential benefits of open, digital scholarship,
automatic, reliable, resolvable connections must be made systematically
between researchers, their employment, their publications and other
research outputs, their research activities, and the funding that
supports it all. Truly open research is also transparent, which requires
a mesh of information to surround each output or action.”
stand-outImage credit: Stand Out from The Crowd Unique Golf Tee Game September 19, 2011 by Steven Depolo. This work is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.
Like DOIs for publications and datasets, ORCID
iDs are rapidly becoming established as a trusted persistent identifier
for researchers – open, non-proprietary, and interoperable with other
identifiers. Identifiers for research organizations have proved more
challenging, however, and this was one of the topics of discussion at PIDapalooza,
the first “festival of persistent identifiers”, held in Reykjavik on
9-10 November. Organized by California Digital Library, CrossRef,
DataCite, and ORCID, it was attended by a mix of PID creators and users,
including researchers and representatives from organizations and
service providers working across the research community – in publishing,
funding, research institutions, and more. The idea was, as with its
namesake Lollapalooza, to bring together people with a shared passion –
in this case, PIDs. And, despite the admittedly geeky nature of the
topic, we had a lot of fun – from the opening primal scream to the
Lollapalooza-inspired closing session, Reaching Nirvana: The Future of Persistent Identifiers!
Another hot topic at PIDapalooza was
demonstrating the value and benefits of identifiers to researchers – to
encourage wider use, improve data quality, and save time for everyone
involved in scholarly communications. A brainstorming session on this
subject resulted in several analogies that could be used to help
researchers understand how identifiers work and why they’re important.
For example, an ORCID iD works like a credit card: a unique number
connected to information about you (your name, address, etc.) that can,
in turn, be securely and reliably connected to other systems that
collaborate with your credit card company (such as your bank), enabling
you to exchange information with them (for example, making a payment).
Similarly, as a researcher, if you use your ORCID iD when submitting a
manuscript, a collaboration between CrossRef, DataCite, and ORCID means
you can opt to have the DOI for your paper automatically added to your
ORCID record.
Sharing information in this way requires the trust of all parties involved. For ORCID, that trust is built on a core principle
of respect for researcher privacy. This includes enabling you to choose
what information is connected to your ORCID record; who has access to
it and whether or not they can edit or update it; and what information
is made publicly available, shared only with trusted parties, or kept
completely private. So, before anything can be added to your ORCID
record, you will be asked to sign in and give permission. By doing so,
not only is your record updated – by the organization whose system
you’re using, such as a grant application or manuscript submission
system – but you can also see where the data has come from. This is what
transparent control of your own information looks like.
Looking to the future, a potentially
powerful new use for identifiers is to boost the openness of research
and facilitate the tools researchers need to collaborate. We discuss
lots of ways this could work in our paper, but we’ll sketch out a couple
of examples here. Imagine if your funders, your works, and your
institution all had unique identifiers, and that your ORCID iD was
embedded in them: then funders could automatically connect you – and
your institution – to your open access publications, making reporting
much less onerous, and a lot quicker. Or imagine that you’ve created a
dataset, stored it in a DataCite member organization’s data centre, and
given DataCite permission to update your ORCID record as described
above. Your university and funder can now see where that data is being
stored, and be assured that it is being preserved and managed properly –
a fast way to demonstrate that you are complying with their research
data management policy.
With nearly 3 million researchers already
registered for an iD, connected to more than 7.5 million DOIs and over
300,000 organization IDs, identifiers like ORCID are already
well-embedded in research workflows. Collectively, we’re making it
easier for your research to be discovered, used, cited, and accessed
online. Best of all, when you share an identifier, for yourself or for
your contributions, you also help increase the reliability and openness
of digital scholarship for everyone.
If you don’t already have an ORCID iD, it’s quick and easy to register!
Note: This article gives the views of
the author, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the
London School of Economics. Please review our 
comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.
About the authors
Josh Brown
is Director of Partnerships at ORCID, in which he works with the ORCID
community to develop and support connections between ORCID’s many
partners, supporters and ambassadors internationally. Josh also directs
the operations of ORCID EU and leads ORCID’s contributions to the
European Commission-funded THOR project. Before ORCID, Josh was
consortium and operations manager for SCOAP3, programme manager for
digital infrastructure at Jisc, project officer for SHERPA-LEAP at
University College London, and held positions in the library at the
University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. He earned an MA in
Information Management from the University of Brighton and a BA in
Philosophy and English from the University of Sussex. His ORCID iD is
Alice Meadows
is Director of Community Engagement & Support at ORCID, developing
and implementing their communications strategy and leading the support
services team. Previously, Alice worked for many years in scholarly
publishing, most recently as Director of Communications for John Wiley
& Sons. She has published several articles on scholarly
communications and is a regular contributor to The Scholarly Kitchen and
other blogs. Alice earned a BSc in Anthropology from University College
London. Her ORCID iD is
Impact of Social Sciences – Persistent identifiers – building trust and supporting openness in digital scholarship

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