Administrators of research are sold on the potential benefits of ORCIDs – but the ultimate success of the identifier relies on buy-in from academics too. Global ORCID take up is rising but hasn’t yet reached the tipping point at which significant benefits start to accrue. Until then, it’s fair to say that advocacy is still needed to convince many academics what’s in it for them.
The pipelines for ORCIDs to flow in and out of the world’s research management databases are under construction. New integrations with institutional, publisher, and vendor systems come online all the time and soon the infrastructure will be in place to enable serious improvements to the way research is administered.
Meanwhile, it’s increasingly difficult for academics to avoid claiming an ORCID and continue to publish the findings of their funded research. At Manchester, for example, we’ve achieved high levels of uptake amongst our REF-eligible academics by making it a requirement of a recent research assessment exercise.
REF-eligible academics with ORCIDs (September 2015)
REF-eligible academics with ORCIDs (December 2015)
But whilst most of our academics now have an identifier, some that we’ve spoken to are unconvinced that investing further time to link their activities to their ORCID record is worthwhile right now. Addressing this, a Library-led project is now rolling out a communications campaign highlighting benefits and dispelling myths around the use of ORCIDs.
With generous but finite resource the ORCID team are attempting to solve the author name ambiguity problem for the entire world, and rely on this type of advocacy initiative at the institution level to maintain momentum. So based on our early experiences, here are our seven tips if you or your team are tasked with developing a communications plan to support your own institution’s ORCID strategy.
1. Protect time for desk research
Perhaps obvious, but before tapping up contacts for invitations to committee meetings clear an afternoon to immerse yourself in all things ORCID (the FAQs page on the ORCID website is a great place to start). On the face of it ORCIDs are a simple concept, but beneath the surface are more esoteric nuances. For example try answering the question, “Is the ORCID registry a single-point-of-truth for all of an academic’s research activities?” and see where this leads you.
2. Perfect your ORCID elevator pitch
When the invitations come in you might only have five minutes on a packed school board agenda so get your key messages clear in your own head first. Try your slides out on a friendly audience to get it perfect. It’s easy to get tied up in knots explaining abstract concepts like ‘round-tripping’ so the more preparation the better.
3. Tailor your message to engage your audience
You may need to spend extra time on background for a humanities audience where (at least at Manchester) there’s lower awareness levels than in the STEM disciplines. Also be sure to highlight key developments of particular relevance to the audience. For example biomedicine researchers will be interested in the Wellcome Trust mandating inclusion of ORCIDs in grant applications; physics/maths/computer science academics may be interested in arXiv’s use of ORCIDs to replace the internal arXiv author ID; and the MLA International Bibliography integration would be of most interest to humanities researchers.
4. Make the problem real
Asking if anyone shares their name with another academic is a good way to make the name ambiguity problem real. Invariably at least one hand goes up and you sometimes get an interesting anecdote too. It’s a good way to break the ice and prompts those in the room to acknowledge the problem.
5. Be honest!
Get ahead of the accusations that this is just for the ‘bean-counters’ by being up-front about the benefits to administrators – in many ways it’s easier to articulate these benefits anyway. And if you can sense that you’re not winning the argument then don’t be afraid to say “Look guys this is going to be 15 minutes of your life that you’re not getting back – it’s a question of when not if you do this because it isn’t going away.”
6. Emphasise the registry
The social network style ORCID profile page has created misconceptions that ORCID is just another social network. We’ve heard comments along the lines of, “I already have Academia.edu and LinkedIn – I don’t need another site to keep up to date”. It’s important to stress that ORCID is first and foremost a registry allowing data to be transferred between these types of systems, ultimately reducing the keystroke burden to the academic.
7. Anticipate the tricky questions
And finally, try to anticipate the tricky questions whether they be technical (eg “Who has access to the API?”) or more philosophical (eg “This sounds a bit ‘Big Brother’ to me”), and have answers prepared for them. However much you prepare you’ll not be able to anticipate every question. For example, following one presentation we delivered recently in which we quoted the fact that in China, people with the top three family names (Li, Wang, and Zhang) account for 21% of population (nearly 300 million), one academic remarked in exasperation “What’s wrong with just using my name?!”