On September 8, 2017 as Hurricane Irma was approaching landfall and thousands of Floridians were packing into Atlanta to avoid its fury, our colleagues at Georgia State University Libraries hosted a one-day “road show” workshop led by ORCID, the researcher identification system (www.orcid.org). Despite the looming storm and the crowds that came with it, approximately 25 librarians from across the region attended the workshop, most from ASERL institutions.
Founded nearly five years ago, ORCID is a nonprofit organization that offers a free 16-digit identifier (“ORCID iD”) to academic authors and other contributors to research and scholarship. This iD number allows researchers to connect themselves with their works and affiliations so their outputs can be correctly attributed to creator(s) and aggregated and tracked throughout their careers. To date, more than 3.8 million ORCID iDs have been minted, and registration is growing at a rate of approximately 25,000 IDs per week. ORCID has produced a fun and informative video that provides an overview of their services: https://vimeo.com/97150912
ORCID iDs are provided at no charge, so how does a not-for-profit membership organization with a staff of 29 people scattered around the world support itself? In its early days, ORCID received initial support from loans from the scholarly communications community and later grant monies, including a significant endowment from the Helmsley Foundation (Leona Helmsley was not always the “queen of mean,” leaving all her fortune to her dog.) Today, ORCID is supported largely by libraries, research institutions, publishers, research funders and other players in the scholarly communications ecosystem that pay annual fees in exchange for real-time access to the ORCID database via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
ASERL members have access to deeply discounted ORCID Premium memberships via an agreement with the Greater Western Library Alliance. The discount provides five APIs for a cost of $4,000/year, more than 80% less than ORCID’s “list price” for Premium memberships that are paid by large commercial entities. Several other library consortia (LYRASIS, NERL, Big Ten Academic Alliance, etc.) offer similar discounts. (Note: ORCID’s services and pricing schedule is the same for libraries as for publishers and other commercial users, but only nonprofit organizations receive the deep discounts.)
To achieve full functionality of ORCID is far more complex than I initially realized. This may explain why few universities have fully implemented the complete suite of ORCID services. ORCID’s integration program is called “Collect and Connect.” Full utilization of ORCID includes member organizations (universities, publishers, repositories, etc.) undertaking the following:
- Confirming the affiliation of author identify of the researcher through an authentication process (OAuth), providing trust in the community;
- Collecting and storing authenticated ORCID iDs;
- Displaying iDs on member directories and other sites;
- Connecting information about affiliation and contributions to an individual’s ORCID record, so creators can share trusted information with other systems and profiles they use;
- Synchronizing data between systems to improve reporting accuracy and speed and to allow researchers to spend more time making contributions and less time managing them.
For universities, full implementation includes:
- Faculty/staff/students signing up for an ORCID iD, using it when prompted (e.g., when publishing an article or applying for a grant), and adding personal information such as links to their profile on relevant websites (personal pages, departmental pages, etc.);
- Where needed, updating information previously added to ORCID records, such as articles published prior to receiving the ORCID iD. (In some cases this work is done by liaison librarians as a courtesy to the faculty they serve.);
- University systems providing independent confirmation that a researcher is employed at the institution and pushing that information to their ORCID record;
- Use of ORCID APIs by university systems (e.g., faculty profiling systems) that facilitate reporting of scholarly output at the institutional level.
Publishers and standards organizations also play a vital role, including:
- Implementing ORCID IDs as part of their metadata schemas;
- Using ORCID’s APIs to connect DOIs with iDs to ensure ORCID profiles are up-to-date.
So, it’s complicated. Members of the national ORCID consortia in Australia and Italy have implemented more ORCID services than in other parts of the world. Italy has a nationalized university system that mandated use of ORCID, resulting in over 90% take-up of ORCID among Italian researchers. In Australia, the Australian Access Federation has funded two full-time staff to work closely with universities and their libraries to implement various ORCID-related services. This has resulted in 35 of the consortium’s 40 members having one or more ORCID integrations up and running. Additionally, a growing number of publishers are requiring authors to provide ORCID iDs for all submissions, incentivizing the use of ORCID from the publisher side.
To help foster greater utilization of the full array of its services in the US, ORCID has suggested US consortia consider supporting a model similar to the one used in Australia: to fund staff specifically to work directly with libraries to develop the communications and systems needed to implement ORCID fully. How this would be done across various library groups is yet to be determined – perhaps via a surcharge on the annual ORCID membership fee paid by each US library to cover staffing costs? LYRASIS is leading the development of a national survey that will determine the interest and price levels that ORCID members (via their consortia) are willing to pay for this kind of direct system implementation support. The benefits are clear, as seen in the Australian example. Given the huge discounts on the ORCID Premium membership fees enjoyed by libraries and the apparent need for implementation assistance, it seems a modest surcharge might be a useful method to ensure libraries get the most from their investment in ORCID. This survey is expected to be distributed to consortia (which will then distribute it to their member libraries) later this Fall.