THOR Workshop at the European Bioinformatics Institute, UK

On Thursday February 25th project THOR organised a workshop about the use of persistent identifiers (PIDs) within the biosciences community at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK. EMBL-EBI are a THOR partner, and the event drew a capacity crowd. Team members from ORCID EU and EBI gave presentations on the scope and future of ORCID and the use of ORCID iDs and Research Object Identifiers (ROIs) at EBI. The workshop included technical sessions on ORCID dataflows in Europe PubMed Central, data submission forms and data claiming services. The workshop participants discussed integration possibilities between articles, data, and researchers across the research lifecycle; THOR’s main objective.

The first presentation introduced ORCID and described some of the latest developments in ORCID uptake and integration. How users can search using an ORCID iD in Europe PMC and the importance of linking your articles to your ORCID iD to get credit for your work was explained. The introduction to ORCID lead to a variety of general questions, for example how ORCID prevents and deals with duplicate iDs.

Questions about other benefits of  ORCID iDs, such as our peer review functionality, were discussed. Can reviewers still remain anonymous? Yes they can: publishers can, for example, publish ‘summary’ annual updates to ORCID records for their reviewers without linking them to the actual review report or manuscript. This way, reviewers of particular manuscripts remain anonymous but they do receive credit for the work they have done.


Audience at EBI listening to Josh Brown (ORCID Regional Director Europe) explaining about ORCID iDs

The complexity of linking data sets and the published article was then discussed. Who is responsible for linking them? Would you like this to happen automatically? At some institutes and within other disciplines this is already happening but within the biomedical sciences sometimes the linking between multiple datasets can make this process more complex. Other connections, for example to the funding agencies, can be made as well, but they can also make the integration process more challenging.

Linking people to organisation identifiers can be challenging too as these identifiers vary in scope and actionability across different providers. On the other hand, it seems some types of identifiers are lacking, for example project identifiers. Other problems include attribution for non-traditional roles, such as data curation.

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Jo McEntyre (Head of Literature Services, EMBL-EBI, on the right) leading discussions on the use of persistent identifiers

Even though there are challenges to be tackled, the technical sessions of the workshop demonstrate that there are already solutions in place. A demonstration of the ORCID dataflows into Europe PMC shows that through continuous bidirectional updates using the notifications API, search discoverability is increased. When using your ORCID iD within data and article submission workflows, name ambiguity can be automatically overcome. A sample submission shown during the workshop demonstrated  that it is not complicated for researchers to submit data via submission forms and automatically link the data to their ORCID iD.

THOR will continue to bring infrastructure providers, publishers, repository managers, institutions and researchers from different disciplines together. As the discussions during this workshop demonstrated, the use of identifiers will differ for each scientific discipline. Would you like to organise an event like this within your discipline, at your institute or at your organisation? Please do get in touch with us and we can discuss the possibilities.