On January 23-24, 150+ PID (persistent identifier) people from 23 countries across six continents gathered in Girona, Spain for the second PIDapalooza festival of persistent identifiers. Co-hosted by California Digital Library (CDL), Crossref, DataCite, and ORCID (my organization), PIDapalooza 2018 featured updates and discussions, demos and use cases, brainstorming and networking. As well as the 40+ interactive half-hour parallel sessions, there were plenaries by Geoffrey Bilder (Crossref), Jo McEntyre (EMBL/Europe PubMed Central), Melissa Haendel (OHSU Library), and Carly Strasser (Coko Foundation).
I’m not going to attempt to cover the whole meeting, other than to share Carly’s summary of the main themes of the conference, which she identified as: metrics, connecting PIDs, resolvers, identifying organizations, outreach, identifiers for [other stuff!], data, persistence, and simplifying and focusing. Unsurprisingly (since it’s my job), the one which sparked the most interest for me — and which also cropped up a lot at the first PIDapalooza — is the critical importance of effective outreach to researchers. I wrote then that, “the real challenge for us all is to get [PIDs] used more widely, consistently, and appropriately. What Phill [Jones] calls below the difficult “social” questions. And that means understanding – and effectively communicating – the value of PIDs to researcher organizations and researchers alike, in order to ensure their wide adoption and usage across the whole research community.”
So Simon Porter’s presentation on Research Information Citizenship really hit home for me. It’s a topic he’s been evangelizing for a while now, and which I think deserves a lot more attention than it’s had so far. His notion is that, for the research infrastructure to work, we must all be good ‘citizens’, playing our part by providing and/or using PIDs (and other elements of the infrastructure, such as standards). As he notes: “Persistent identifiers are not just technical, they are social. Yet for the most part, expectations of how we should behave, and what we should do to our data for the benefit of other research citizens remains implicit at best.” Or, as my colleague Josh Brown puts it, “it makes a lot of sense to me to think of the ‘thing we are citizens of’ as a commons. We manage the commons not for profit or personal gain, but for the sake of the community. I think identifiers are a really good example of a shared resource, since they really exist to make connections — they are signposts so they naturally sit outside of any individual silo. We, as citizens, sustain our common PID resources for the common good, for the well-being of research.”
But what has research information citizenship got to do with outreach, you may ask. To develop and maintain a robust and trustworthy research infrastructure, we need to increase PID adoption by researchers. And, to get them to buy into using and sharing PIDs, we need a powerful message, one that appeals to researchers across all communities and career stages. I think research information citizenship is that message. It’s a shared vision of what can be achieved in a world where we are all good citizens, one where persistent identifiers and other elements of the research infrastructure are being used by everyone, in ways that will benefit everyone.
At a more tactical level, my former colleague, Laura Wilkinson, led a session on Anticipation, Action, Awareness: A PID Communications Template for All, based on the ORCID outreach campaign template we launched in October for organizations to use and adapt. She asked participants to brainstorm campaign ideas based on key questions: Who (is your audience?); What (are you going to tell them?); Why (do they need to know?); When (will your campaign happen?); Where (will your communications happen?); and How (will you know if you have succeeded in getting the message across?). The resulting suggestions are available on Figshare — we hope to try out at least some of them ourselves during the course of this year.
Outreach also came up in the session on Metadata 2020, which is itself a great example of research information citizenship in practice, a community-led “collaboration that advocates richer, connected, and reusable open metadata for all research outputs, which will advance scholarly pursuits for the benefit of society.” However, as Ginny Hendricks of Crossref noted, “metadata needs its own PR campaign. Most researchers either don’t know what it is or think it’s something very technical.” Cue another outreach opportunity! Metadata 2020 is about to launch a researcher outreach working group to develop a set of community tools and resources that will, among other things, help address that knowledge gap, and educate researchers on how to create good metadata, why they should care about it, how it will benefit them, and more.
Angelina Kraft (TIB) presented some interesting feedback on PID outreach efforts to date in Germany. The results of a 2016 survey of 1,400 scientists in the natural sciences and engineering show that, although over 70% use DOIs for journal publications, less than 10% use them for research data. Why? More than half (56%) said it was because they didn’t know they could! In addition, 40% of respondents said they need more information about PIDs, and almost 30% see no benefit in using PIDs — presumably at least partly because they don’t know what they are and/or understand how they can help individuals, organizations, and the wider community.
The next PIDapalooza is provisionally planned for January 2019. Wouldn’t it be great if, by then, we’ve all made some progress towards becoming good research information citizens ourselves, whether as publishers, librarians, funders, associations, service providers, or, most importantly, researchers?
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Angelina Kraft’s proposed PID 101 of nine essential facts that all researchers should know about persistent identifiers!
- A PID is a “long-lasting reference to a digital resource”
- There are different sorts of PIDs and different uses of them
- PIDs are provided by organizations
- You (the researcher) don’t have to pay for PIDs
- PIDs are mostly used for (persistent) citation
- A correct citation always includes a PID
- The metadata behind a PID are very important
- PIDs are not perfect!*
- PIDs are really useful and fun!*