There’s A PID For That! Next Steps in Establishing a National PID Strategy

This is a guest blog post written by Alice Meadows, Director of Community Engagement, National Information Standards Organisation (NISO)

In case you didn’t already know, for the past year or so, Jisc has been leading a PIDs for Open Access project, aimed at expanding adoption and usage of persistent identifiers in the UK. Building on the 2019 report Developing a persistent identifier roadmap for open access to UK research, this is a community effort — Jisc are strongly committed to ensuring that their work on establishing a national PID strategy involves all stakeholders.

A stakeholder group was therefore formed earlier this year, with representatives from all disciplines and sectors — funders, HEIs, infrastructure providers, libraries, publishers, researchers, research managers, and more. At an initial meeting of this group in April, participants discussed the five persistent identifiers (PIDs) that have been deemed high priority for improving access to UK research. These are ORCID iDs for people, Crossref and DataCite DOIs for outputs, Crossref grant DOIs, ROR identifiers for organisations, and RAiDs for projects.  This was followed by five focus group meetings during May and June, each focused on one of the priority PIDs.

The focus group objectives were to:

  • Take a deep dive into specific community issues, exploring perceptions and highlighting needs
  • Validate the selection of the five priority PIDs and the national strategic approach to PID adoption and use
  • Refine and prioritise the interventions outlined in the roadmap report

Building on the focus groups, and with input from each of the priority PID providers, we’ll be publishing a week of PID posts on the Jisc blog, starting on October 12. The posts address many of the questions raised about the individual priority PIDs at a Jisc webinar on Persistent identifiers and open access in the UK: the way forward, which was attended by over 140 people representing all the key stakeholder communities — not just from the UK but also from right across Europe, as well as Singapore, Canada, and the US.

Involving international stakeholders in this way is especially important since, although the PIDs for Open Access initiative is intended to support the adoption and use of persistent identifiers in the UK, research is a global endeavour. The PID organisations involved are (or in the case of RAiD will be) global too, and representatives from all five PID organisations have participated in the first stakeholder group meeting, as well as a second one held in September, calling in from as far afield as Australia!

Products and services built on PIDs and the research infrastructure are also international, so there is also a need to engage with the organisations behind these tools, both commercial and not-for-profit. This will include working with them to understand their current and planned future use of PIDs, mapping their integrations to existing research workflows — especially those relating to Plan S — and identifying opportunities for additional interventions.

It’s also essential to ensure that the PID organisations themselves have robust governance and sustainability models. Crossref, DataCite, and ORCID are all well-established not-for profits and are, to a greater or lesser extent, sustainable. All have governance models that enshrine their communities’ needs, for example, ORCID’s bylaws require that at least half of its Board members are from not-for-profit organisations. And all are committed to ensuring that their metadata is persistent (even if the content to which it points is not!). However, there is still work to be done on ensuring that RAiD and ROR — both newer and less well-established — are also sustainable, that their governance structures reflect a commitment to community ownership, and that processes are in place to support persistent metadata.

In tandem with the development of a national strategy for PIDs, it’s equally important for individual institutions and other organisations to develop their own strategies, in order to fully exploit the power of persistent identifiers for their researchers and staff.

Over the coming months, the PIDs for Open Access project team, together with the stakeholder group, will be working on these issues, as well as discussing possible models for the proposed UK national PID consortium. We’ll share more updates here soon!

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