Information Industry News
Dated June 14, the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) Call to Action invites "interested parties across the research ecosystem to engage, convene, and collaborate in service of better research output tracking."
In a page on their web site, the ORFG provided the following context:
The Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) engages a range of actors to develop principles and policies that encourage sharing of papers, data, and other research outputs. It is in this spirit of engagement and broad collaboration that today we publish an open letter to the community – a call to action for interested parties across the research ecosystem to engage, convene, and collaborate in service of better research output tracking.
Improving Research Output Tracking
An Open Letter from the Open Research Funders Group
The Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) is a partnership of philanthropic organizations committed to the open sharing of research. We believe sharing research benefits society by accelerating the pace of discovery, reducing information-sharing gaps, stimulating more equitable knowledge production, encouraging innovation, and promoting reproducibility. The ORFG engages a range of actors to develop actionable principles and policies that encourage greater dissemination, transparency, replicability, and reuse of papers, data, and other research outputs. It is in this spirit of engagement and broad collaboration that we write this open letter. We hope this serves as a call to action for interested parties across the research ecosystem to engage, convene, and collaborate in service of better research output tracking.
Proliferation in the volume and types of research being created and disseminated, and the diversity of dissemination channels, is both a challenge and an opportunity. What is being produced throughout the lifetime of a grant? Where are these products shared? How are they being reused by citizens, researchers, and policy makers? Answering these and related questions could help funders better measure both the impact of their grant dollars and of their research sharing policies. In addition, improved output tracking, and the good practices associated with this endeavor, could help the larger academic community by making research outputs more discoverable, more reusable, and generating evidence on the broader benefits of research sharing.
Last year, driven by strong interest in these issues within our membership, the ORFG launched a working group dedicated to policy compliance and research output tracking. This group includes representatives from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, American Heart Association, Arcadia Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Health Research Alliance, John Templeton Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Templeton World Charity Foundation, and Wellcome Trust. Through regular conversations, this group has honed in on specific roadblocks in the research output tracking workflow, and identified concrete actions that could be taken by key interested parties in the ecosystem to improve these processes.
We propose some of these actions here, organized into four priority areas:
1. Funder acknowledgments are one of the ways that funders track publications resulting from their grants. However, these acknowledgments can be inconsistent: funder names may be incomplete or missing, or specific grant numbers may be lacking. In addition,
funder acknowledgments are not always included on other types of research outputs, or may not be submitted as metadata to the indexing organizations. We as funders could provide template language that shows grantees precisely how to acknowledge both the funder (by funder ID) and grant (grant ID or DOI), and where to include this information in
different types of research outputs. To complement these actions, we encourage publishers to require authors to list both the funder ID and grant ID or DOI in a standardized funding acknowledgment section of their manuscripts. Publishers could work with their editorial management systems to ensure there are specific prompts for grantees to enter this information. Similarly, content repositories (data or code repositories, preprint servers, etc.) could require submitting researchers to list both the funder ID and grant ID or DOI. They could also establish a standardized and prominent place within the repository record to include information about the funding source.
2. Persistent identifiers (PIDs) improve discoverability of research outputs, facilitate good citation practices, and prevent ‘link rot’ — all of which could help funders better track research outputs and their reuse. We as funders could require PIDs for all research outputs that count toward grant applications and reporting. We could also work with our grants management systems to ensure there are prompts for grantees to enter PIDs. Further, we could assign PIDs to grants and register them with PID providers. To complement these actions, we encourage publishers to require that if authors link out to shared research outputs in their publications, they do so using PIDs. Publishers could also require authors to have an author PID (ORCID), linked to an institutional or permanent email, and listed on the final publication. We also encourage content repositories (data or code repositories, preprint servers, etc.) to assign PIDs to all deposited content, and to establish a standard and prominent place within the repository record to display the PID. Finally, we encourage PID providers to explore ways to make assigning PIDs to grants easier for funders by reducing technical and workflow barriers.
3. Resource availability statements are a great way for grantees to explicitly outline where and how to access research outputs arising from funded projects. In addition, the very act of writing such a statement requires grantees to think about accessibility and sharing of outputs. We as funders could require grantees to include a resource (code, data, protocols, tangible materials, etc.) availability statement, including PIDs, in all grant reporting and journal publications. This would not necessarily mean all research outputs have to be publicly available, but rather that grantees should specify for each output if, where, and how they can be accessed. We could also work with our grants management systems to ensure there are specific fields to add such a statement in grant reports. Publishers and content repositories like preprint servers could also require authors to include such a statement in all their papers, which could be made a standard part of the
manuscript format. Several publishers already require data or software availability statements; this could be a natural extension.
4. Machine readable metadata: Many of the existing tools for research output tracking used by both funders and third-party services rely on being able to scrape metadata from publisher websites and content repositories. However, sometimes metadata is not provided in formats that are easily machine readable, or the information in the metadata may be incomplete, not including all the necessary funding information, for example. We encourage publishers and content repositories to work with funders and tool developers to explore ways to improve metadata to better inform research output tracking tools.
We realize the above suggestions are not exhaustive, nor do they cover all the relevant actors in this space. Rather, they are complementary steps our working group believes a few key actors could take together to significantly advance research output tracking. We also acknowledge that the organizations represented herein do not yet all abide by the recommendations we have put forward for funders. However, we believe it is important to begin a cross-sector dialogue to surface areas of shared interest and opportunity.
We recognize that the community may have many other ideas on how to improve research output tracking. We are eager to open communication channels and hear from diverse interested parties. To this end, we have set up a Google form for anyone to provide input, which will remain open for one month from the date of this letter, and we commit to synthesizing and reporting publicly on this feedback. We also recognize that some of the proposed actions may work best, or even require, collective and coordinated efforts. As such, we also commit to organizing online community calls (the first to be held in the fall of 2022) and convenings (TBD) to bring together multiple interested parties across the ecosystem and facilitate working towards shared goals. Please fill out our form, or reach out to us directly at the ORFG (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com).