Evolving the PID landscape: The power of working together


Fostering knowledge-sharing and community collaboration to drive ORCID identifier adoption is an essential part of Jisc’s  remit as the ORCID UK consortium lead. As part of this remit we are engaging in a number of key international and national Persistent Identifier (PID) initiatives and activities.  Persistent identifiers provide global solutions to the barriers preventing the efficient and effective management of research information, and these initiatives are an essential step towards realising the potential power of connected PIDs in the scholarly ecosystem.

As a community we recognise that identifiers for a range of entities – in addition to researchers (ORCID iDs) – would be useful for the scholarly ecosystem. The value of ORCID IDs increases when they are connected to other PIDs: the power of making connections between researchers and the other research-relevant entities that the community cares about can then be harnessed.  Work to map potential workflows that establish these connections and links has identified pain points as well as opportunities to increase efficiency and effectiveness . However, as we know, some PID systems  are more mature than others, so we are participating in a number of global conversations to further explore issues, improve integration, and drive adoption of key PIDs.

To fulfil our remit and ensure that the policy and direction of our UK consortium community’s adoption of PIDs is influenced by and influences international practice, we are engaging with multiple initiatives, including:

Organisational Identifiers

The Research Organisation Registry (ROR) is a new PID registry that is being created by key stakeholders to bring more detail and consistency to the currently divergent space around organisational identifiers. It is based on Digital Science’s GRID database. There are currently four organisations in the steering group – CDL, DataCite, Digital Science, and Crossref, with broader community input including from Jisc, which brings the ORCID UK consortium’s views to the table. Two of the key principles of this initiative are that it should be community driven and have open APIs and Open Definition conformant licences. Read more about the principles at:

Research Project and Activity Identifiers

The Research Activity ID (RAiD) is an identifier for research projects and activities. It is persistent and connects researchers, institutions, outputs, and tools to give oversight across the whole research activity, and make reporting and data provenance clear and easy. RAiD infrastructure will push open metadata to ORCID records, and along with Open Science projects and eScience Infrastructure, the UK Practice Based Research Community is keen to participate in the ongoing work to explore the deployment of this technology within the UK environment.

FREYA infrastructure for persistent identifiers

The successor to the ODIN and THOR projects, FREYA aims to build the infrastructure for persistent identifiers as a core component of open science, in the EU and globally. FREYA will improve discovery, navigation, retrieval, and access of research resources. One of the project’s key goals is to connect new and existing PID services, through the PID Graph, to make the most of the information available in different PID systems. An integral part of this initiative is outreach and training including: community events, consultation with European Open Science Cloud, OpenAIRE, and other international communities, and an Ambassador programme involving 24 ambassadors in 13 countries. This engagement with the community, amplifies the project and enables the gathering of use cases.


Organised by California Digital Library, Crossref, DataCite, and ORCID, PIDapalooza is an open festival for persistent identifiers that brings together people with a shared interest in PIDs. The fourth PIDapalooza will be held in Lisbon on 29-30 January 2020. ORCID, Jisc, and ORCID consortia members have strong representation at PIDapalooza each year, which ensures that these stakeholder groups get to provide feedback on and input to the important PID issues and technology being developed and discussed.

Research Data Alliance (RDA)

The RDA builds the social and technical bridges needed to enable the open sharing and re-use of data. With over 8,000 international members, including more than 800 in the UK, the RDA provides a neutral space where its members can come together through focused global Working and Interest Groups to develop and adopt infrastructure that promotes data sharing and data-driven research. The RDA UK node promotes the recommendations and outputs from RDA working groups through a number of workshops. Its second workshop was run jointly with the FREYA project, and focused on PIDs, highlighting their importance to the UK research community and the benefits of the RDA in bringing many of these initiatives together.

Mapping the PID landscape: PID workshops

During 2018 and 2019, Jisc, SURF, DANS, ORCID, and ARDC ran a number of workshops as part of their on-going conversation/collaboration to build a common understanding to address the key requirements and challenges of PIDs in research. This included discussions around building trust in an environment where PID systems continue to proliferate; embedding the use of PIDs in research workflows; and harnessing the power of connecting PIDs and increasing their adoption of PIDs by researchers and research organisations, through a streamlined and internationally coordinated approach to communication. This work also started to map the PID landscape and to define where there were potential areas for focus/development to help improve workflows.

One outcome of these workshops was the observation that the lack of a coherent, consistent registry for Grant IDs is seen as a particular issue. Since then CrossrRef have launched an initiative to provide a more robust infrastructure for this.

Another key output was around defining features for good PID systems. These features included governance, curation/operation, and technology, all of which are needed in concert.  Essentially, these need to be present for sustainability, as can be seen in our own UK ORCID Consortium [Cultivating ORCIDs – growing a sustainable national consortium; Balviar Notay, Adam Vials Moore, Monica Duke;Open Repositories, Hamburg, Germany, June 10-13, 2019]

Jisc is also working on efforts to select and promote a range of unique identifiers, including ORCID, in collaboration with relevant partner organisations and funders of research, who may (for example) consider mandating the use of such PIDs as a condition of grant. Jisc also works to investigate and develop new PIDs where a need has been identified, such as the Research Activity ID (RAiD) above.

In Summary

The recent Knowledge Exchange report on Open Scholarship concluded:

“ Academic communities will need to act together if we want control over our processes and systems. The structures that define scholarly communities matter, and the infrastructures that support them are important.”

What is clear from all of the above is that the PID landscape is complex, evolving and requires all of us to engage in order to realise the potential power of identifiers and the connections between them. To deliver on the vision of a PID infrastructure that supports academic communities and meets their needs, Jisc provides a national focus and thought leadership for the UK academic community to converge around when deciding the best paths for any action.

This post was drafted by Jisc and ORCID colleagues

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