Year 1 in Review

It has been a year since THOR launched in June 2015 and a natural time to take stock of what the project has achieved and some of the ways that our understanding has matured.

In the THOR vision, persistent identifiers are the default. They are the new normal. And they are interlinked and embedded in the services that researchers use every day. They help researchers to get clear unambiguous credit for the full range of their work – articles, data, software, and more. They enable data centres, universities and funders to track the impact of the research that they enable. They enable publishers to fully incorporate data into scholarly communications. They support a new research infrastructure.

Taken together, this means better evidence-based research and credit where it is due.

The THOR partners are working to make this vision a reality.  We’ve made healthy progress. The THOR Dashboard helps to track activity in the persistent identifier space. If you visit it, you can see the month-to-month progress from years of data.


The dashboard currently tracks the activity of THOR partners DataCite and ORCID. DataCite is the leading provider of persistent identifiers for data. It assigns DOIs at over 700 and growing data centres around the world. ORCID is the leading provider of persistent identifiers for researchers.

The graph shows continued strong growth with over six million DataCite DOIs assigned to data and other research artefacts, and over two million ORCID IDs for individual researchers.

Over the past year, our research efforts have focused on better understanding how persistent identifiers can be more interoperable and better interlinked. We’ve published a report on how to overcome barriers between PID platforms for contributors, artefacts and organisations. We’ve also produced a report on persistent identifier linking in scholarly e-Infrastructure that extends the thinking about PIDs to cover institutions and funding information. This hard thinking is now resulting in new services to build up links between PIDs and exchange information about them.

We know that we can only achieve our vision by changing the way that the systems work – the ones used by researchers every day. In THOR’s first year, we’ve integrated ORCIDs into essential production services in life sciences, high energy physics, and earth and environmental sciences. This means that they can automatically link deposited datasets with a unique and persistent identifier for their contributors.

Through the website, social media, events and webinars we’ve shared and learned from you about how persistent identifier services can make a difference in research. We’ve talked to and heard from many thousands of people – researchers, data managers, administrators, funders, journal editors and publishers, and more. This has enriched our understanding and, we hope, will result in better services, more robust infrastructure, and more rapid adoption. Many of the events are recorded and are available on the THOR YouTube channel.

If you are passionate about the possibilities that persistent identifiers present for research, you may want to become an Ambassador. Ambassadors work together and with THOR partners to encourage wider understanding and adoption of persistent identifiers. To learn more about getting started with adopting and using persistent identifiers, you can also visit the Knowledge Hub.

THOR stands for technical and human infrastructure for open research. As you can see, we’ve been working hard throughout the first year to make a difference from both perspectives: new understanding, services, integrations; more listening, talking, and sharing what we learn.

We plan to be blogging over the coming weeks to share more about new persistent identifier services and integrations in production services.