ORCID Increases Financial Support for Research Organization Registry

As use cases build in the global research ecosystem around persistent identifiers (PIDs) for research organizations, ORCID has recently increased its financial commitment to the first and only openly available organization identifier—Research Organization Registry (ROR).

Like ORCID, ROR operates an open, community-driven, noncommercial PID registry that is part of the interconnected network of global scholarly infrastructure. However, instead of disambiguating people as ORCID does, ROR disambiguates institution names, captures affiliations, links affiliation metadata to research outputs, and exchanges affiliation information across scholarly systems, making it an indispensable component of a research ecosystem that connects researchers with their research. ROR data is freely and openly available for anyone to use. As a demonstration of our intention to help ensure ROR’s success well into the future, ORCID recently increased its financial support of ROR by contributing $100,000 towards its sustenance and growth. We expect to be able to continue our annual support of ROR at this level for the foreseeable future.

“Having just celebrated ORCID’s 10th anniversary last year, we are able to more clearly see the outcomes of the early financial support that made ORCID the sustainable organization it is today,” said ORCID Executive Director Chris Shillum, who is also on ROR’s steering group. “Increasing our funding to ROR is one way of paying it forward to help increase the reliability and interoperability of the open PID infrastructure at the core of the research ecosystem.”

Maria Gould, ROR’s Project Lead based at California Digital Library (CDL), coordinates ROR’s operations and develops its strategic vision. She says that ORCID’s contribution will help accelerate efforts to drive widespread adoption of ROR IDs in research infrastructure.

“As adoption continues to grow, we are actively responding to more feedback about additions and updates to registry records, as well as conducting ongoing metadata QA, to maintain the high degree of data quality and frequency of data updates that our users depend upon. ORCID’s support provides key resourcing for the increased infrastructure and staffing costs that this work requires.”

“The ROR API is now receiving 23 million requests per month and climbing, and we are investing in infrastructure improvements to ensure we can scale to meet increased demand,” said Gould.

Collaborative and open governance

ORCID and ROR both operate on a non-profit basis, but unlike ORCID, ROR is not an independently-established organization. The service operates as a collaborative initiative governed by three organizations: Crossref, DataCite, and California Digital Library (CDL). All three are stable, trusted, and prominent organizations and collectively represent ROR’s core stakeholder groups: libraries and research organizations, scholarly publishers, and data repositories.

Gould adds that ROR is also committed to following best practices for open scholarly infrastructure, which include avenues towards sustainability and accessibility. “Through our organizations’ Memorandum of Agreement for operating ROR, we have put measures in place to maintain the continuity and availability of ROR and to ensure its ownership remains noncommercial,” she said.

ORCID commends the commitment made by the three organizations in 2022 to jointly fund ROR’s core operating costs. This form of governance also alleviates the need for the legal and organizational overhead that comes with setting up an independent non-profit organization, and the associated fundraising costs. With a collaborative business model, ROR can have nimble operations and function at a fraction of the cost that an independent organization would, allowing it to focus on growing capacity and working toward increasing global adoption. As a fellow scholarly infrastructure organization, we at ORCID feel it is also our responsibility to contribute to ROR’s sustainability on behalf of our community.

ROR increases power of scholarly metadata

The core entities of scholarly communication that make up the PID infrastructure are people, research outputs, funding, and the affiliated research organizations, which is where ROR fits into the picture. ROR may still be relatively small in size, but its impact is mighty and gaining in interest amongst prospective adopters. Established in 2019, its open model has helped address multiple use cases across a wide variety of stakeholders. Gould says that more work is ongoing to support new users in developing implementations, mapping their data to ROR, and providing affiliation metadata to sources like Crossref, DataCite, and ORCID.

Having a reliable way to identify organizations helps ORCID users and members in multiple ways, as a growing number of use cases clearly demonstrate. As organization identifiers grow in adoption, even more use cases across the research ecosystem will emerge.

The Following Use Cases Have Been Identified by ORCID

Research institutions
An established use case for research institutions occurs when the institution’s administration wants to know how many of its affiliated researchers have ORCID iDs. In turn, this data allows administrators to find out what publications its affiliated researchers have contributed, which is a highly valuable metric.

Funding organizations
Similarly, organizational identifiers are key to enabling funding organizations to track research outputs connected to their grants as well as helping them track open access compliance data for papers that are published.

As the publishing industry has changed, there have emerged use cases around how publishers ask institutions to pay for OA charges. Currently, the publisher has to know reliably who the researcher works for in order to reach out to the institution and ask if it will pay for an article’s publication charges.

Government and policy makers
When it comes to governments and policy makers, organizational IDs enable all the institutional IDs in a given country to be aggregated to the national level. This provides foundational data for governments to make sound policy decisions.

With researchers at the center of all of ORCID’s activities, it’s also important to examine how organizational IDs help individual record holders. An emerging use case for researchers occurs when institutions write validated affiliations to ORCID records. This information then becomes a trust marker on the researcher’s ORCID record, allowing them to openly demonstrate their validated affiliation to anyone who might be interested. While still relevant, manually entered affiliation data does not have this added layer of trustworthiness. The ability for institutions to contribute data that can increase a researcher’s trustworthiness simply can’t be accomplished without a PID anchoring it.

Research security
Lastly, an organizational ID allows administrators to identify which researchers work at which institutions, providing a compelling use case for research security. In this use case, it’s imperative to understand researchers’ compliance with regulations around conflicts of interest, and the organizational ID is an important mechanism for institutional tracking.

ROR improves research infrastructure, workflows, and policies

Shillum said that from the start of ORCID, there has been a need for organizational IDs.

“For the same reason that it’s hard to fulfill use cases around people because many people have the same name, and there are many name variants, it’s the same with organizations,” he said. “It’s not as often that organizations have the same name, but it certainly does occur. For instance, there’s an NSF in the US and there’s an NSF in China, and there’s a University of York in the UK and York University in Canada. We see the problem of duplication on occasion, but we definitely see the problem of multiple name forms.”

Organizational IDs are already playing a vital role in the research ecosystem, especially with regard to infrastructure, workflows, and policies. With much growth on the horizon, ORCID’s support for ROR reinforces a commitment to the whole research infrastructure and especially to our users and members. As ROR is an open and nonproprietary identifier for organizations, ORCID’s leadership thinks that it is uniquely positioned to be integrated in any system and included in scholarly metadata to meet FAIR data guidelines. As public access policies continue to shape the research community, ROR’s open registry will help many stakeholders comply with new policy recommendations, as well as support many types of institutional tracking and data discovery.

Do you need to get help with a ROR integration? ROR support documentation is available at https://ror.readme.io. You can also join the ror-tech discussion forum to post questions and ask for advice, or get in touch via info@ror.org.