THOR at PIDapalooza

If November taught us anything, it’s that open identifiers clearly do deserve their own festival. On 9th and 10th November 2016, people from all over the world gathered in Reykjavik to share PID stories, demos, use cases, victories, horror stories, and new frontiers at PIDapalooza, the first conference dedicated to PIDs. The THOR team travelled to the country of glaciers and volcanoes to talk about project identifiers, persistent identifiers for instruments, PIDagogy and measuring PID adoption.

PIDs for Projects

Martin Fenner (DataCite) and Tom Demeranville (ORCID) presented their work on project identifiers to a full house. They proposed that project IDs should be used to link participants, outputs and funding. But the most suitable identifiers to describe projects? That was left open for discussion – a discussion that quickly turned heated. What, even, is the exact definition of a project? What would persist if the project ends? Would researchers be willing to share the information needed for the project ID? How would we describe the metadata, given that a project does not have a publication date? Clearly more research needs to be done to answer these important questions. Keep an eye out for the announcement of a THOR webinar on Project identifiers, which will be held early 2017, in which we will be resuming this discussion.

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Tom Demeranville leading the discussion on PIDs for projects

Persistent Identification of Instruments

Markus Stocker (PANGAEA) continued to explore new frontiers with a presentation on PIDs for instruments, instrument platforms and their deployments. Beyond enabling the unambiguous identification of these entities as well as reference to them in articles and other research artefacts, Markus suggested that metadata preservation about these entities is critical for researchers to judge the fitness of observation data for reuse. He presented two examples for systems that already assign DOIs to deployments and platforms. A key challenge for the community is to decide on the required metadata for preservation.

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Twitter activity during Markus Stocker’s presentation on PIDs for instruments

The Human Perspective

Building the technical infrastructure for open research was a clear theme at the conference, but how do we move from infrastructure to adoption? How do you teach, learn, persuade, discuss and grow the uptake of PIDs in everyday research practice? My presentation showcased the contribution that the THOR ambassador network is making to the human infrastructure around PIDs. By organising training activities within their own communities and sharing training materials, THOR ambassadors are helping to overcome the cultural barriers to PID adoption. These forms of collaboration are not only critical between THOR partners and ambassadors, but need to extend to other organisations and projects in order to integrate PIDagogy within the Research Data Science Curriculum. The importance of communication was also reiterated in other sessions on PIDagogy, in which participants designed infographics to promote and explain PIDs to different stakeholder groups. These materials will be developed further and made available for the community to (re-)use.

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PIDapalooza crowd developing videos, infographics and quizzes for PID adoption

Challenges of Measuring PID Adoption

Salvatore Mele (CERN) discussed the challenges of measuring PID adoption. THOR has already developed a comprehensive dashboard, which shows ORCID and DOI uptake over time. But the ways in which we evaluate and interpret the results remain open for discussion. Salvatore explained that it is difficult not to get philosophical when talking about measurement of PID uptake. What information is missing? What do we not (yet) know? And what further steps can we take to know the unknowable?

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Salvatore Mele explaining the THOR Dashboard

PIDapalooza definitely generated as many questions for THOR as we brought to the table. Participating and presenting at this event was a great opportunity for the team to discuss ideas and generate more thought for further research and future collaboration, complementing the PID frontiers already being explored by other organisations. And yes, THOR definitely believes identifiers deserve their own festival and is looking forward to PIDapalooza 2017!

Want to know more about PIDapalooza?