Guest Post by Gerry Lawson

15th July 2013

This post has been written by Gerry Lawson of NERC and we would like to express our gratitude to him for taking the time to share his views with us.

Research Information – Do we need a Names Authority for Organisations and Grants?

ORCID has been a great success as a Names Authority for researchers. It has gained almost 200,000 users worldwide since its launch in November, with 50+ members (including Glasgow University and Kings College), and has plans for the inclusion of links to affiliations, grants and patents. It is being considered by many research funders and statistics agencies for use alongside existing person identifiers, and is stirring interest in many countries (China has now surpassed the UK as 2nd in the ranking of unique visitors to the ORCID website).

This success is being replicated in three other parts of the research landscape:

  • Datasets – Good progress is being made with dataset DOIs. In the UK, ESRC (through the UK-Data Archive) and NERC will mint DOIs for datasets produced by their grantholders and held in their Data Centres. Other researchers can use services like Dryad to gain DOIs and to link with ORCID. The DataCite citation format –
    Creator (PublicationYear): Title. Publisher. Identifier
    – allows citation statistics to be collected in exactly the same way as for research papers. Thomson Reuters is giving free access to its Data Citation Index till the end of August.
  • Publications – CrossRef is going from strength to strength – and its metadata completion and search APIs offer a great opportunity to clean and check research publication information in both repository and CRIS systems. The challenge of how to record and disseminate standard Open Access metadata for both green and gold publications is being actively addressed by CrossMarkNISO and JISC.
  • Organisations – ORCID is planning to link people to OrganisationIDs in the Autumn. The organisation Registration Agency they have chosen is Ringgold, and this links to the International Standard Name Identifier system (ISNI). In the UK, other sources of OrgIDs which could contribute to the Ringgold system are the Register of Learning Providers, the new HESA “Institution Profile Record“” and the organisation records held by Research Councils UK. Other commercial organisation lists exist with companies like House and Dunn & Bradstreet – which hopefully will be linked eventually through ISNIs. Thomson Reuters have a list of 3000 major research organisations used in the InCites global comparisons, which ideally should also be registered with ISNI. The UK Chapter of CASRAI has an active working group on Organisational IDs (as well as Data Management Plans and Research Reporting).

But as yet there is no similar pooling of information on research grants.

  • FundRef launched on the 22nd of May (with data provided by Elsevier), and will make a great contribution to the disambiguation of Funder names. The RCUK Gateway to Research System will be important for the UK when it is fully populated with research outcomes on November 13. However, neither FundRef nor Gateway to Research are true Names Authorities. They provide some metadata services but don’t issue unique grant identifiers. Do readers think it would be useful for RCUK to apply to be a Registration Agency with the International DOI Federation, and issue DOIs for UK Grants? Longer term this role might be transferred to an international agency like the Global Research Council, but maybe the UK should start the ball rolling? Any thoughts?

What did you think of Gerry’s article? Use the hashtag #GerryNERC to let us know.

About Gerry

Gerry used to be a research biologist and forester.  He now coordinates business and research information for NERC, including the implementation of NERC’s Research Data and Open Access policies. Gerry was also the keynote speaker at our 5th Annual User Conference.