ORCID’s record holders comprise researchers, scholars, and anyone else who finds value in having an ORCID iD. In the ten years since ORCID’s inception, we have emerged as the community standard for person identifiers and associated metadata in research and scholarship. During this time, researchers and contributors—represented by the R and C in our name—have remained at the center of all that we do. With over 10,000 records created in the ORCID registry every day, we remain committed to increasing the value that researchers and contributors receive from having an ORCID iD, and by extension, increasing the value to research institutions and other organizations in having ORCID memberships.
One of the biggest ways ORCID provides value across the research ecosystem is by providing a mechanism for organizations to—with researcher permission—contribute affiliation data to their researchers’ records. Providing this ability to organizations to automatically write data to records is a critical aspect of our distributed, accumulative trust model. In this post we’ll dive into how your organization can connect your systems to ORCID so you can realize this value too—you may be surprised at how easy it can be! For example, did you know that more and more vendor systems your organization may already use are ORCID-enabled? If you use one of these systems, it can be very easy to have your ORCID connection up and running in no time. Read on!
A lot of organizations already use systems that are certified ORCID-enabled. This may make it very easy to get a connection to ORCID up and running in no time!
Benefits across the research ecosystem
We’ve mentioned that researchers are at the center of all we do, so it makes sense that ORCID talks a lot about how researchers benefit from affiliation data. It saves them time by streamlining common workflows, such as manuscript submissions and grant applications by quickly and accurately populating forms with metadata from their records. It also helps researchers gain more career-relevant data on their records without them having to manually key in new employment positions, publications, or research awards, for example.
ORCID-member organizations also benefit greatly from affiliations that can automatically flow to researchers’ records. Affiliations added by organizations via authenticated workflows save them time and money. Consider, for example, that machine-readable data is higher quality with fewer transcribing errors and can reduce data gaps and improve analytical accuracy. Validated affiliation data also gives organizations a better perspective on the contributions of their researchers, which can have many impacts across the organization, including with funding, staffing, and strategic communications. Streamlining workflows and creating more trust in research can even improve researcher morale and elevate the level of research conducted at the organization by allowing researchers to spend more time on high impact work and less time re-entering existing data.
The benefits to organizations also extend to being able to read affiliation data, not just write it. When data has been automatically updated, it bears a trust marker that ensures the researcher is who they say they are and their publication and employment information is valid. This is vital to making informed decisions about researchers when it comes to grant funding, publication, peer review, credentialed access to data, and employment, among other things.
In a recent blog post and webinar, PhysioNet shared how ORCID is helping to streamline the credentialing of individual applicants before granting them access to sensitive medical data in their repository. Likewise, in a previous blog post we shared how the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) used the Affiliation Manager to allow for writing to the records of their visiting researchers who are not employees. They used the “Invited positions and distinctions” field on the ORCID record and can now help their visiting researchers claim this important affiliation that adds a trust marker to their work history. When assertions are added to ORCID records by member organizations, they are vouching for the fact that the record holder is (or was) indeed affiliated with the organization, which results in validated data and adds value for both researchers and their organizations.
In combination with other persistent identifiers, ORCID also helps you take control of how your institution’s name is used across research systems, by associating researchers with your preferred name and organization identifier.
Affiliations and the distributed trust model
Within an ORCID record, affiliations describe the link between a person and an organization; whether employment, education or qualification, invited position or distinction, membership, or service. An ORCID record may have multiple overlapping affiliations, and as a researcher advances in their career, they can accrue more and more affiliations that can be linked with other kinds of data in their records, such as publications or funding awards.
As ORCID first sought to build an open, globally interconnected registry, it was imperative to create a foundation of trust with researchers themselves. The foundation is embedded in our governance model, as ORCID is overseen by a Board of representatives who ensure the organization is acting in the best interest of our wide cross-section of stakeholders, including researchers. Further, two of our 10 Founding Principles directly address our commitment to researcher control, and we developed the ORCID Trust Program to provide transparency about the controls, policies, and practices we put into place. Just as researchers can grant organizations access to their record to write affiliation data, so too can they change the permissions at any time. And it’s ORCID’s promise that researchers will forever own their records and be in control of who accesses them.
Over the years, new use cases have emerged, and researchers have expressed growing appreciation for the reduction of administrative burden gained by granting permissions to trusted ORCID member organizations to automatically write metadata to their records.
ORCID seeks balance between providing full researcher control while also encouraging more affiliation data to be written by member organizations. Consider that of the 14 million ORCID iDs in the registry, only about two percent have an affiliation that has been added by an organization. That means that the vast majority of records with affiliations in our registry are from self-asserted data, which has been manually entered by the record holder, and seems to indicate that researchers value having their affiliations listed on their records.
We believe the reason there is such a high percentage of self-asserted affiliation data is that in our earlier days, researchers adopted ORCID at a much faster pace than did organizations. In other words, there were only a fraction of the affiliation-writing integrations that we have today, so when our early-adopting researchers grasped ORCID’s vision and wanted to populate their record, their only option at the time was to self-assert their affiliations. Other reasons that affiliation data could be self-asserted is that the affiliation data is historic and occurred before ORCID even existed, or the record holder may be affiliated with an organization that isn’t yet an ORCID member.
We want to be careful to note that self-asserted data still provides a great deal of trustworthiness as a baseline, but in the context of the entire research ecosystem, it’s important to expand on what trustworthiness means. With ORCID’s distributed, accumulative trust model, affiliations that are written to a record by trusted institutions help increase the trustworthiness of that researcher’s data.
To further help our community understand the concept of distributed and accumulative trust, we coined the term “trust markers” to refer to the mechanism of the recorded and disclosed provenance of assertions in an ORCID record. Since only reliable and trustworthy data sources are allowed to add information to an ORCID record, affiliations added by ORCID members contribute to the “trust markers,” that can help users determine for themselves which kinds of data in an ORCID record they consider to be trust markers for their specific use case.
Ways to assert affiliations
As mentioned above, self-assertion refers to when a record holder manually enters affiliation data into their record. While many of ORCID’s early adopters were researchers who self-asserted affiliation data before organizations became ORCID members and could write affiliations, one of our main goals at ORCID is to make it easier for institutions to add affiliations to the ORCID records of their researchers. When they are able to do so, easily and effectively, it’s no surprise that engagement with ORCID across the organization increases.
There are three ways affiliation data can be asserted by organizations:
ORCID-enabled systems—If you are an ORCID member organization of any kind, either consortium or direct, and are not currently writing affiliation data to your researchers’ records, the first thing you should do is check and see if your organization is using one of the vendors that offer ORCID-enabled functionality in their current research information/research information management system (CRIS/RIM), funding, repository, and publishing platforms or services.
Some of these systems are widely used (such as DSpace CRIS or Pure) and include the ability to write affiliation data to researcher records. Supported ORCID functionality and configuration steps vary by system, but if your organization is using one of them, getting your connection to the ORCID registry is a lot simpler than you think!
Affiliation Manager—ORCID’s Affiliation Manager tool was developed specifically for ORCID Consortium members. The Affiliation Manager does not require any technical resource to build an integration or connect a vendor system, and provides a simple way for organizations within the consortium to write affiliation data to their researchers’ records. The lead institutions of each Consortium can guide their Consortium members in using Affiliation Manager, including troubleshooting and providing strategies for obtaining widespread ORCID adoption at their institutions.
Integration Using ORCID APIs—Members can build a customized integration with their own internal systems to write affiliation data associated with their organization to the record of any ORCID iD holder within their organization (with the researcher’s permission). This can help our member organizations make leaps in ORCID adoption and increase the amount of affiliation data they assert to ORCID records.
Adding affiliations to records means adding value to the research ecosystem
Affiliation data added by member organizations enhances the value of ORCID records across all organizations, not only through the systems with which they are connected, but to the entire research ecosystem via publicly-viewable data, and ORCID’s public data file, which we publish annually in October.
One of our key priorities moving forward is to have more of our member organizations get their systems connected to the ORCID registry using one of the three methods described above. As more of our member organizations enable functionality of the ORCID-enabled systems they already use, or when they use Affiliation Manger, it will help communicate the value of allowing trusted members to write affiliation data to ORCID records and continually build trust in the research ecosystem. When research thrives, society as a whole benefits. ORCID helps ensure that the advancement of research is unhindered by excessive administrative burden when affiliation data is open, machine-readable, accessible, and reusable.
If your organization is an ORCID member but is not yet writing affiliation data to its researchers’ records, we’d like to have a conversation with you, or you can share this blog with your colleagues or administration so they can understand the value of writing affiliation data to researcher records. And don’t forget to check to see if you already use one of the ORCID-enabled systems that may make writing affiliation data to your researchers’ records as easy as toggling on the function. Likewise, researchers can help their organizations make strides in writing affiliation data simply by talking to research and facility program managers and library staff about the benefits they would gain as researchers.