Institutional ORCID mandates – are they a good idea?
A short review of practices amongst our UK ORCID consortium member institutions on mandating ORCID at their organisation.
In the run-up to the first community drop-in held this August, I had a query come in on ORCID mandate practices amongst our members,. This discussion topic crops up regularly 1, and consortium member organisations often have questions such as:
- How far might we want to introduce a formal ORCID mandate at our institution?
- Which institutions have formally mandated ORCID?
- Are there problems or issues (privacy, consent issues?) that need to be considered when formally mandating ORCID?
I went away to look at some of the discussions and information we have built up on this since the start of the consortium. Here is my summary of the information I have found in our UK ORCID mailing list and the results of a survey we carried out in 2017 .
What does an institutional mandate look like?
- Policy: The first form that a mandate can take is to have a policy document that states that researchers need to have an ORCID ID.
- Requirement: A different form of mandate is when the policy is stated as a requirement by one of the most senior leaders at the university (or perhaps a decision-making board).
- Process: The last form of mandate is when obtaining an ORCID ID is requested as part of a process that researchers are required to complete. This can be tied to some sort of progression, or academic assessment cycle.
By taking a top down, opt out approach as approved by senior management committee, the university has essentially mandated the use of ORCID due to the potential requirement for REF.
Yes – Director of Research and reiterated recently by PVC Research
We don’t let a researcher file an IRP (Individual Research Plan, linked to progression) without one.
We will require academics to record their ORCID in our next annual mini-REF exercise
The policy document can also make the requirement more specific, and perhaps tied in with the latter requirement on processes or systems, e.g. the researcher may need to obtain an ORCID ID when depositing their outputs in an outputs repository. Depositing the outputs may in turn be linked to assessment cycles (such as the REF in the UK).
Which institutions have a mandate ?
I had thought this would be the easier question to answer, but it turns out it is a little bit more complicated than I first thought. The scenario that can most easily be checked is when an institution has a policy document which refers to ORCID, that we know about, and if it is publicly available, we can check the detail.
If the mandate is in one of the other forms, then it won’t be that tangible, at least externally. Whilst these mandates can be very effective, we rely on communication from our members to us or to peers, and it is harder to provide pointers to show where they are in place. For example, the record of a communication from a senior leader may be only available internally to the institution, and similarly with details of what is needed for processes like REF or promotion.
I looked back through mailing list discussions as well as the results of a comprehensive survey from 2017. The survey had 49 member responses (the size of the consortium then was under 90). Of the responses, 7 answered that they had a mandate, 8 were considering it. Of the 7 that stated they had a mandate, only one referred to a published policy. Many of the others were of the other forms.
At the University of Leeds, the University publications policy requires researchers to register for an ORCID identifier. The policy states:
Authors should register for an individual ORCiD identifier and should include it on a personal webpage, when submitting publications, when applying for grants, and in any research workflow to ensure that the individual is credited for their work and that the correct institutional affiliation is achievedFrom https://library.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/1/university_publications_policy (checked 09/11/2022)
At the University of York, the Policy on the Publication of Research requires that authors use a persistent author identifier when submitting author details for a publication, where this option is given by the publisher. The associated guidance points to ORCID iDs. Policy applies to all staff who are expected to publish (i.e. research and academic staff, not teaching only staff).
The University of Strathclyde similarly references the publication process in its policy.
“Strathclyde researchers should use their ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) whenever they are submitting their author details for a publication (where ORCID is supported by the publisher), thereby ensuring Strathclyde authors receive credit for their research outputs”
The University of Kent makes a simple statement on its webpage about ORCID “ORCID iDs are mandatory for all research active staff at Kent.” Similarly, the University of St Andrew’s orcid page provides this statement, referencing the Research excellence Board “The University’s Research Excellence Board expects all research staff to have an ORCiD ID.”
Are institutional mandates desirable ?
Generally speaking, our members tend to agree that a mandate goes against the spirit of respecting researcher individuality and self-management and decision-making (on which high value is placed) – at least as far as an organisational (employer) mandate is concerned. The next thing to be mentioned almost immediately though, is that mandates coming from funders or other national organisations are usually considered a good thing and likely to be a driver for take-up. This quote from a 2015 discussion on the UK-ORCID mailing captures this feeling quite well,
I agree that the benefits of having an ORCID iD ought not simply to be ‘you must have one because it’s mandatory’ although like everything in this area, both messages will inevitably overlap. Certainly, here at [organisation anonymised], we want to build up our communications to include all the ways in which an ORCID iD can be used, whether that’s because of a mandatory policy or not.
And these words from our survey response echo this sentiment:
Our approach is to leave the mandating to publishers and funders. ORCID is only successful with user engagement based on perceived benefits. We do not want ORCID to be seen as a compliance activity.
For example, 8 (out of 49 responses to a question on mandates in our 2017 survey) specifically mentioned REF as a driver in their response or approach, e.g. “Mandates rarely work unless linked to an external policy necessity, e.g. REF2021 make ORCID a requirement to submit (which would be a good way to press ahead).” Or “This will be a consideration if the HEFCE mandates ORCIDs for REF2021 or if HESA mandate ORCIDs in their returns.”
One other concern that is mentioned when weighing up whether to have a mandate, is how to ensure or enforce it. Is anyone going to be auditing compliance, will compliance be enforced, will there be any consequences for not conforming? Would there have to be a penalty?
“It’s mostly just a principle”, “It is mandatory though not rigorously enforced”, are the types of phrases we hear in this context.
What are the experiences of those that have used mandates?
In 2016, the University of Manchester shared with the community that they had made ORCID iDs a requirement of an annual research assessment exercise. They reported some very positive take-up (86% of the then currently REF-eligible staff had an identifier).
Overall, we do not have much data on current mandates and official mandates written in policy do not seem to be a widespread approach. An alternative approach is where use of ORCID IDs is “strongly encouraged” but stops short of being made an official requirement. “We strongly encourage use of ORCID. Not a formal mandate.”
Now that I have reviewed the background on the information we have captured so far, I will go back to our community as they may be able to share pointers to their published policies which reference ORCID IDs, or share with us an update on how their practices and plans have evolved since the 2017 survey. We will be focusing on advocacy efforts in our upcoming community activity and considering the role of mandates, or how to otherwise communicate and encourage the use of ORCID IDs, fits in well with that focus, so this short review has been a timely exercise to undertake.