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Persistent Identifiers 101

Kirsty27 July 2020

You might have heard the phrase ‘Persistent Identifier or even PID in passing, but what does it actually mean 

A persistent identifier (PID) is a long-lasting reference to a resource. That resource might be a publication, dataset or person. Equally it could be a scientific sample, funding body, set of geographical coordinates, unpublished report or piece of software. Whatever it is, the primary purpose of the PID is to provide the information required to reliably identify, verify and locate it.” – OpenAIRE 

These identifiers either connect to a set of metadata describing an item, or link to the item itself.  

In 2018, the Tickell report was released. It presented independent advice about Open Access, which had implications for the world of PIDs. Adam Tickell recommended that Jisc lead a project to select and promote a range of unique identifiers for different purposes, to try and limit the amount of confusion and duplication in this area.  

The JISC project has been in progress for the last year. They are working on what they describe as ‘priority PIDs’ which cover the following categories:  

  • People 
  • Works 
  • Organisations 
  • Grants 
  • Projects 

So what are the PIDs we need to be aware of? 

People 

The primary PID for people is one that you will already be familiar with if you are a regular reader of the blog. Even if you aren’t, you have probably heard of it – it’s ORCID.  

ORCID is an open identifier for individuals that allows you to secure accurate attribution for all of your outputs. It also functions quite nicely as an online bibliography, and can be used to automatically collect and record your papers in RPS. All in all, it’s pretty useful 

If you want to know more about what you can do with ORCID, have a look at our recent blog post ‘Getting the best out of your ORCID. All of the details about linking ORCID to RPS and vice versa, are available on the blog and the Open Access website 

Works 

The next identifier is for works. It’s another that you have probably seen, even if you don’t know a lot about themDOIDOI stands for Digital Object IdentifierIt’s a unique registration number for a Digital Object. This could be an article or a dataset, but it could equally be an image, a book, or even a chapter in a book. DOIs are unique and persistent which means that if your chosen journal changes publisher, you will still be able to find your article because the DOI is independent and will keep up to date.  

DOIs are most often acquired through a Registration Agency called Crossref, but you will also come across DataCiteBoth of these services do the same job, providing and tracking DOIs, but the underlying tools are slightly different.  

Did you know: if you have the DOI of a paper, an easy way to find that paper is to add https://doi.org/ to the front. The URL this creates will take you to the paper, no matter who published it. For example: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 is DOI, and https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 will take you straight to the paper 

Organisations 

The Research Organisation Registry (ROR) is a new PID registry that is being created by key stakeholders, including Crossref and Jisc, to bring more detail and consistency to organisational identifiers. The definition of organisations goes beyond institutions like UCL to include any organisation that is involved in research production or management, so this can include funders, publishers, research institutes and scholarly societies.   

Grants 

Crossref is key in the identification of individual funders and in creating identifiers for research grants. Grant IDs are DOI’s, but connected to grant-specific metadata such as award type, value and investigators. The intent is for funders to register each grant and provide a GrantID, which has the potential to make tracking papers and data linked to individual projects much simpler in the long run. Several hundred grants have been registered already, mostly via Wellcome (With thanks to Rachael Lammey for the clarification 03/08/2020)

Projects 

The Jisc project is supporting Research Activity ID (RAiD), a project based in Australia which creates a unique identifier for a research project. The intent is for this to be the final part of a network of identifiers that will allow people, works, and institutions to be linked to their projects and funders. This will complete the chain and allow accurate attribution and accountability at every stage of the research process.   

How can I get involved? 

The work being undertaken to select and support individual PIDs at each stage of the research process is a good idea, and if it works then it will be a step towards a fully interconnected, open and transparent research process. The next stage of the Jisc project is currently underway, and they are surveying all sectors of the UK research community about awareness, use, and experience of PIDs. If you want to contribute, their survey is open and has just been extended until 21 August!  

PIDs diagram

PIDs environment – Click to enlarge

Using RPS to add publications to ORCID automatically

Catherine Sharp19 May 2020

Green circular ORCID iD logo

Last week we wrote about how spending a few minutes setting up your ORCID record will repay you many times over, helping with grant applications, online profiles and the like. We talked about some of the nifty things you can do with ORCID, like creating a QR code to put in a poster or presentation. Most of you already know about “auto-claiming” publications containing your ORCID into RPS (and even “auto-rejecting” others), saving you having to review long lists of publications that match your name. A whopping 72% of UCL researchers, nearly 4,000 of you, have added your ORCID to RPS for auto-claiming.*

Even if you’re using your ORCID whenever you publish, until now it hasn’t been plain sailing getting publications into your ORCID record, especially since this was completely separate from adding them to RPS. There’s now a new tool in RPS that makes this much, much easier.

*By faculty, UCL Institute of Education researchers top the table at 81%.

The old way: using ORCID to record publications

Until now, you’d use “auto-update” in ORCID, from a third-party source like CrossRef, to import publications that contain your ORCID to your ORCID record. To add publications that don’t contain your ORCID, you’d select publications matched to your Scopus record and/or ResearcherID, add them manually, or upload a BibTeX file.

If this sounds like a lot of effort, read on.

The new way: send to ORCID from RPS

You’re already recording your publications in RPS so that you can make them open access, select them for REF, and include them in your IRIS profile. Now, you can send them to your ORCID record automatically. This gives you the added benefits of a permanent ORCID record of your publications, without any extra work.

Take a moment to enable send to ORCID in your RPS profile (see below); then make sure you’re using your ORCID, e-mail address, Scopus ID, arXiv ID and/or ResearcherID to auto-claim publications into your RPS record. Your auto-claimed publications from all of these sources, as well as any you claim yourself based on matches to your name, and any that you add to RPS manually will all be sent to your ORCID record. Job done.

How to do it

For privacy reasons, you need to authorise RPS to send to ORCID, even if you’ve already allowed RPS to talk to your ORCID record for auto-claiming. Even if you’ve forgotten your ORCID password, it should take no more than a minute.

  • Click on the Menu tab near the top of your RPS home screen. In the My Account column, choose ORCID Settings.
  • Click on Connect your ORCID iD.
  • If you’ve previously recorded an ORCID in RPS, you’ll be sent to an ORCID login screen. If you haven’t, but you have an ORCID account, click on Sign into ORCID. (If you don’t have an ORCID at all, you can set one up by choosing Register now).
  • Click Authorize to allow RPS to update your ORCID record.
  • When you’re sent back to RPS, choose the first option, “read from and write”.

Screenshot of RPS ORCID Settings page after ORCID authorisation.

Your existing and new publications will be sent to ORCID automatically within a day or two. Clicking “Run Sync” on this page (see the image in the next section) isn’t necessary, but will speed up the sending. Once publications been added to ORCID, you’ll see an option on this page to remove them; you can also combine, delete and edit them in ORCID.

Extra send to ORCID settings

After you set up send to ORCID, the ORCID Settings page will give you a few options. By default, RPS won’t send journal articles with a status other than “published” or “published online”, nor publications you’ve marked as private (by clicking the eye icon in your publications list). Untick the first box and RPS will send journal article records regardless of their publication status. Tick the second and it’ll send publications even if you’ve marked them as private.

If you want to select specific publications to send, you can tick the option “Only send favourite publications”. You’d use the heart icon in your publications list to select favourites.

We’d suggest that you click “Send affiliation” at the bottom of the page: this will add your UCL affiliation to your ORCID record.

Screenshot of options on RPS Search Settings page for sending publications to ORCID.

If some of your journal article records in RPS were created manually, they might not have a status. If you don’t want to change the default send to ORCID settings, you can add the “published” or “published online” status to individual records.

Image of RPS status field in manual book record

More about RPS and ORCID

You’ll find more on our ORCID webpages. For guides to auto-claiming using ORCID, e-mail address, Scopus ID, arXiv ID and/or ResearcherID, and information about how RPS selects publications it thinks are yours, see the section on our RPS training page called “Recording publications in RPS”.

Look out for future posts on RPS and ORCID. To get an alert when we post new articles, fill in the “Subscribe by Email” section on the right of this post (or below, if you’re reading on your phone).