Over the past few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the results of our recent survey on perceptions and understanding of ORCID within the global scholarly community, and have just published our final report, together with the anonymized data. We were delighted that so many people responded to the survey – close to 6,000, of whom nearly two thirds (62%) completed it – and we are very grateful for this expression of support from the community.
So, what did we learn? While most of the results broadly confirmed many of our expectations, there were also some surprises.
For example, we didn’t expect there would be such strong support for mandating ORCID – a full 72% of respondents believe that ORCID mandates would be good for the global research community, with 21% neutral, and only 7% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. When asked a simple yes or no question about mandates by various types of organization, the percentage supporting publisher mandates, specifically, is even higher at 75%; support for mandates by funders and institutions (both 67%) and scholarly societies (64%), though not as great, is still high. However, there was significant variation in support for mandates between respondents who have an ORCID iD (an average of 75% support) versus those who don’t (52%), perhaps indicating that researchers are more likely to see the value in widespread ORCID use once they have their own iD. This may also explain the apparent lack of support for mandates by physical scientists (59% compared with 72% across all other disciplines); that group is largely represented by American Geophysical Union members, more of whom haven’t yet registered for an iD (44% compared with an average of 58% overall).
There are also different levels of support by region, and job sector/title. Researchers in Africa (80-89% in favor of mandates for different organization types), and Latin America (79-82%) are especially supportive, while their counterparts in North America (52%) are much less so). Similarly, librarians (89%) are most likely to favor mandates, as are students (78% compared with 68% of respondents in other teaching and learning roles). In fact, a number of institutions already require researchers to use an ORCID iD in one or more systems; several funders have implemented or announced ORCID mandates in the last year or so; and last week, the Royal Society announced that, from January 2016, it would be requiring ORCID iDs for its authors. So, while we still have work to do in terms of winning hearts and minds among some groups, there’s an unexpectedly high level of support for ORCID mandates across the scholarly community overall.
Another pleasant surprise was that the top reason given by ORCID record holders for getting their iD was “I want the Internet to work better and persistent identifiers (PIDs) are the way to go.” Admittedly this group may be more altruistic than some but, nevertheless, we are delighted that so many respondents understand that persistent identifiers, such as ORCID iDs, play a critical role in supporting the research infrastructure. We will be working with other PID organizations in the coming months to further raise awareness of this.
Less welcome was the revelation that, while 58% of all respondents know they have an ORCID iD, 28% of iD holders are unfamiliar or “don’t know about ORCID at all.” While we can speculate about the reasons for this (researchers whose institution assigned ORCID iDs to them under our old Batch Create process, rather than encouraging them to claim their own iD; or who signed up for a particular purpose, such as submitting a manuscript, and promptly forgot about it), the important learning point for ORCID is that we must do a better job of engaging with our iD holders. We need to ensure they understand not only why to get an iD but also why, how, and when to use it. Having said that, there is high awareness of ORCID in certain groups, for example, in the UK 76% of respondents are very or somewhat aware of ORCID; in Australasia, 71%. This is likely a result of strong national engagement and support through the Jisc (UK) and AAF (Australia) consortia. (It would be interesting to see if the same is true in Italy, where Cineca has a national agreement with ORCID, but we don’t have data at country level in Europe outside of the UK.) Awareness among librarians (89%) and publishers (77%) is also higher than average – unsurprisingly, since their roles typically require good knowledge of industry initiatives.
There were also some interesting findings by discipline, region, and sector/job role. Some are less surprising – for example, it makes sense that researchers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are more concerned about misattribution of their work than many of their colleagues in other regions. Name ambiguity is a huge problem in countries like Korea (where half the population shares one of five last names) or Latin American countries, where multiple family names are the norm. But we hadn’t predicted that researchers in health and medical sciences would share this concern. And while librarians’ high level of support for ORCID mandates may reflect their understanding of the importance of a strong research infrastructure, why are students also 10% more likely to support mandates compared with others in teaching and learning roles?
These are just a few of the questions we’ll be grappling with in the coming months as we work to both develop a better understanding of how the scholarly community currently perceives and understands ORCID, and to adjust our communications to address specific areas of confusion and misunderstanding. Some of the apparent discrepancies may be a result of disparities in sample sizes, such as an over-representation of physical sciences (41% of respondents), largely as a result of the AGU actively promoting the survey to its members. In contrast, just 5% of respondents work in the humanities. Similarly Western Europe (36%) and North America (29%) are both over-represented in the results, while responses from Africa, Australasia, Latin America, and the Middle East are all broadly in line with the proportion of researchers working in each region, and Asia and Eastern Europe are under-represented.
We plan to contact some of the 1,500+ respondents who are willing to be contacted about future ORCID market research for a deeper dive into some of the results in hopes of gaining additional insights. And, of course, we welcome any other feedback from Scholarly Kitchen readers and the community at large!