Getting the message out

As the official project draws to an end, we are still very busy promoting the new service to researchers at the University of Southampton. Getting the message out there is something we’re going to be doing for the foreseeable future until the acquisition and linking of an ORCID iD becomes truly embedded in the University’s work patterns.

We started talking to academic colleagues about ORCID in the autumn, as soon as we knew about the project, gradually building up recognition of the term. The library staff have good links into various committees, meetings and training opportunities around the University and we have used these multiplicity of channels to raise awareness. Opportunities to talk to researchers have included, but not been limited to, academic unit boards, research group meetings, embedded training opportunities such as postgraduate training on e-theses, postgraduate, staff and PCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) training sessions on open access, and one-to-one deskside training sessions.

Rather than do a big launch event as soon as the registration site was ready, we decided to test it out with a selected number of research groups and user communities into which we had particularly strong ties and/or knew there was already a willingness to act as beta testers for the service. These groups included both staff and postgraduate researchers. Due to the proximity of Christmas (the emails started to go out from the 20th December onwards), we were pleasantly surprised by the number of respondents and got some useful feedback. One issue, in particular, caused confusion, namely what were the actual, immediate benefits for the researcher. This was a tough question to answer as the benefits will only increase as more people and organisations adopt ORCID, and as our work on services such as continue. It is noticeable that the group of researchers who had initially come across ORCID as part of a funding bid process have had a proportionately higher take up of ORCID iDs than other groups where funders are not currently collecting ORCID data, thus demonstrating that when researchers can see that organisations which they deem important use ORCID then they will use ORCID. The feedback further re-enforced our view that a targetted, drip, drip approach might be more effective than an big splash.

With the New Year we have increased our promotional activity with tweets and posts on the Library blog, the University’s portal and University blog as well as maintaining our activities through embedded training events, research group and academic unit meetings and personal contacts into research groups via subject librarians. As we build up the number of services which integrate ORCID within the University, and as funders start recording ORCID iDs, we will step up promotion to the relevant target groups.

We are hoping to embed ORCID into the University’s standard workflows. For example, we are looking forward to working with UEL and others if the Jisc Data Spring proposal, ‘Unlocking the UK’s thesis data through persistent identifiers’, is funded. We would like to include ORCID promotion and adoption with this initiative, possibly even getting ORCID iDs capture at the same time as theses DOIs are ‘coined’, for example this might be included at the ‘Intention to Submit’ stage of the thesis workflow. Capturing our PhD students’ ORCID iDs on a large, systematic scale would help us track the careers of our doctoral graduates and be able to more accurately see the worldwide reach of Southampton trained researchers. Meanwhile for staff, one of the developments we would like to pursue further is to include notifications on our Intranet if they haven’t already registered their ORCID iD with us., as well as continuing the work we have begum with the national service. Summing up, we are a long way from being finished with our publicity and promotion of ORCID iDs throughout the University.

To coin a phrase, an ORCID is for life, not just for Christmas.

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