PIDs in Poland: let’s link research!

The ongoing drive within the THOR project to identify and connect the research landscape reached Warsaw on Monday 24 April. Organised in collaboration with Crossref, the workshop focused on the ways in which persistent identifier (PID) services, such as those provided by members of the THOR consortium and Crossref, can represent ‘much more than infrastructure’ by ‘working together to connect research’. Hosted by the Digital Humanities Centre at the prestigious Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the workshop brought together a packed audience of publishers, data managers, researchers, librarians and administrators for a day of knowledge-sharing and discussion centred on increasing access to research output.

Professor Łukasz Szumowski (Under Secretary of State with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education) opened the event with a recognition of just how quickly the digital world is changing. He stressed the need for developing new mechanisms in bibliometrics to enable objective evaluation that can guide public funding of research.

Professor Paweł Rowiński also extended a welcome as Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, home to 69 institutions spanning a multitude of disciplines. Introducing a thread that ran throughout the day, Rowiński highlighted the fact that persistent identifiers not only make research more accessible, they can provide an incentive for scientists to share data, safe in the knowledge that their achievements will be more visible and attributed to them.

In the morning sessions, Rachael Lammey (Crossref), Ginny Hendricks (Crossref), Josh Brown (ORCID), Laura Rueda (DataCite), Rachael Kotarski (British Library) and I (Ade Deane-Pratt, ORCID EU) gave an overview of the persistent identifier landscape and the services that are being developed to support them as this landscape evolves. Crossref recently gained 26 new members from Poland alone, making it one of their fastest growing countries.

Some common themes emerged from the presentations and discussion: achieving persistence is a process, one that involves constant evaluation and adaptation. The challenges can be highly domain specific, and a number of questions also remain unresolved.

But permissions and privacy are key. Services such as EThOS, the British Library’s repository of doctoral theses, can make it easier to track career paths, but at the same time throw up the challenge of claims for legacy theses.

And more broadly: is it possible to enact a cultural shift away from the citation of physical objects to their digital representations? When is it appropriate to do so?

The afternoon sessions saw some interesting case studies from Polish industry and academia, and some robust discussion, with contributions from Dr Eng. Jakub Koperwas (Warsaw University of Technology), Marcin Werla (Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Centre) and Dr Marta Hoffman-Sommer (Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling, University of Warsaw, RepOD Repository for Open Data, OpenAIRE NOAD for Poland).

We heard about the effort to build from scratch a university knowledge base with clear and consistent metadata that semantically links the full spectrum of academic activity, encompassing conception and funding, the research process, publications, implementations, practical applications, patents and results. The motivation was that it should be possible, for example, as a researcher, manager, funder, administrator or librarian, to interrogate the system to find experts in a field. We also heard about the work and challenges involved in providing an infrastructure − the PIONIER Network in this case − to support research via PID uptake. An outstanding question is how to prevent the duplication of DOIs assigned to the same object.

During the discussion that closed the day, we heard from both panel and audience on what the future of research communication should look like. With the event coming hot on the heels of the deadline for contributions to a new Polish national research evaluation exercise, the topics of making research communication more effective, and capturing and sharing information were naturally of real significance to the room. One thing was abundantly clear: persistent identifiers are integral to that future.

This timely meeting was just one strand of ongoing work to improve scholarly infrastructure and make the research landscape fit for 21st-century purpose. You can download slides from the day here: https://zenodo.org/communities/2017-24-04-warsawmeeting/?page=1&size=20. And you can keep abreast of future events at our website.