Posts Tagged ‘research’

ORCID seeds

January 22, 2015

I attended a meeting today to hear the final reports from a number of pilot projects looking at implementing the ORCID researcher identifier. UCISA was one of a number of organisations that were signatories in 2012 to a recommendation that ORCID should become the standard researcher identifier in the UK. Over one million researchers worldwide now have an ORCID with the growth being driven by improved integration with internal and publisher systems. ORCID has been adopted by a number of other countries in Europe and may be emerging as a de facto standard.

The difficulty in establishing any standard is that the benefits are only realised when there has been widespread adoption covering all aspects of the process. The pilot studies reflected this to a degree with a number highlighting the challenges of selling the long term benefits and managing the expectations of the early adopters within their institutions. Quick(ish) wins include improved internal systems integration but these are perhaps more likely to deliver benefits to professional services teams rather than the researchers themselves.

Overseas, implementation was being driven by mandating use or consortia funding. There was support amongst those present for employing both approaches in the UK. Jisc is to consult shortly on a possible national subscription for ORCID. This was identified as a quick win at a workshop on research data management last year and would encourage adoption across the UK. It would also put the sector in a strong position to lobby funders, publishers and other systems providers to include the ORCID and so facilitate better discovery and integration. However, this would still result in a slow and piecemeal adoption – a degree of mandation would hasten adoption, strengthen the business case and ensure that some of the benefits were realised earlier than might otherwise be the case. Although funders could support adoption by insisting researchers had an ORCID as part of their applications for grants, the key driver was seen as the 2020 REF. ORCID offers an opportunity to ease the burden of reporting on research outputs and impact and this may be sufficient to encourage adoption. Mandating that all researchers to be included in the REF must have an ORCID will hasten the process and should deliver wins all round.

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Research infrastructure – European progress

June 24, 2009

The first presentation at EUNIS this year gave an oversight of the EU funded activities on research e-infrastructure. The EU is looking to promote the interoperability of research data and build an underlying infrastructure that facilitates collaboration both between institutions and between disciplines and provides a resilient platform to European researchers to use. There is a significant investment planned in this area – hundreds of millions of euros. However there is recognition that, although there are some technical issues that need addressing, the greater difficulties are addressing strategic and policy differences, financing services and governance of shared resources. The difference in intellectual property requirements of the member states is also an issue.

Some of these issues have been picked up by the UK Research Data Service project – there the challenges are recognised as being more cultural than technical. It is acknowledged that there will need to be incentives to encourage the publication of research data in a usable format. Introducing the desire to make data available across disciplines adds further complications. There will be a need to ensure that there is consistency in the use and definition of metadata to tag research information and the cultural differences between different disciplines will need to be addressed.

There is also a concern that the Grid resources provided will not be utilised to the full. The statistics presented did not suggest a high level of usage; the last figures I saw for the UK Grid suggested it was being used by a minority of institutions and a small subset of academics within those institutions. It was suggested that one reason for this was the need for specialist programming skills to use the grid and recognised that it needed to become more intuitive to increase usage.

The projects within the EU’s Framework 7, if successful, will go some way to making the infrastructure and the data within it more accessible. There is collaboration across EU states within disciplines but the main challenges will be the cultural, strategic and governance issues. The one technical concern that was only really mentioned in passing was the need to manage access. I believe that implementation of federated access management varies across Europe but hope to get a more detailed picture during the course of the week.

Research data services – a way forward?

March 2, 2009

Last week I attended a conference to discuss research data services. The focus was on the UKRDS project, one of a number of feasibility studies funded by HEFCE. The existing research data is something of an untapped resource; it is hardly reused by those that create it, let alone by others. And the volume of data (and hence the size of the untapped resource) will grow substantially over the next few years.

The UKRDS project was looking to address a number of issues the biggest of which are probably cultural rather than technical. We heard that researchers are just not used to putting the data they generate into the public domain – it is often poorly documented and lacks quality metadata to allow it to be found and used. Also the Australian National Data Service identified that the cost of contributing data to their data service outweighed the benefits gained from publishing the data. One school of thought was that including citings of data in research metrics would encourage more researchers to deposit data. Another was that more ‘stick’ was required, to make the requirement for data to be published part of the funding conditions and/or Government policy. What was clear was that researchers would need to be trained in how to deliver well documented data that will be of wider use, and that the mechanism for producing the data needs to be low cost. Researchers will also need training in data mining techniques to ensure that they are able to take advantage of the research data held.

There will be technical issues. Tools need to be developed to allow easy access and ideally there needs to be a standardised approach as far as the different disciplines will allow. Resourcing is also an issue, not just in identifying capital funding to deliver a strong pilot but also to deliver a sustainable, scalable solution. The proposed Pathfinder project where a number of institutions will look to build a pilot RDS should clarify some issues and identify a way forward. Regardless of the future direction, a research data service will need a robust infrastructure and ongoing resourcing.