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Moving Ahead with the UK National PID Strategy

This post has been written by MoreBrains Cooperative.

Over the past few years, Jisc has been driving conversations about the need for a UK national strategy for persistent identifiers, in response to Professor Adam Tickell’s 2018 advice to the UK government on open access to research, in which he recommended that Jisc should lead on “selecting and promoting a range of unique identifiers … in collaboration with sector leaders with relevant partner organisations.”

This has included commissioning a report from Josh Brown which recommended a national approach with five major components: forming a UK-wide PID consortium; carrying out targeted interventions; conducting a benefits analysis; agreeing a governance structure; and setting up a sustainability task force.

Jisc subsequently worked with Josh and the MoreBrains Cooperative to take these recommendations forward, including:

  • Community engagement to establish current and desired levels of PID awareness and adoption in the UK via a survey and a series of focus groups, including workflow mapping that identified five priority PIDS (Crossref and DataCite DOIs for outputs, Crossref DOIs for grants, ORCID identifiers for researchers, RAiD identifiers for projects, and ROR identifiers for organisations)
  • Creating a task force of national agencies, funders, institutions, research managers, publishers, and PID providers to explore the business case for setting up a national PID consortium
  • A cost benefit analysis demonstrating significant cost savings through widespread PID adoption
  • Establishing a Research Identifier National Coordinating Committee (RINCC) charged with leading the UK’s PID strategy, including liaising with the global PID community, aligning PID integrations across sectors, and ensuring equitable access to PIDs

It’s now time to move ahead with the next stage of the UK national PID strategy. Working once again with MoreBrains, over the coming months Jisc will be developing a roadmap to establish a dedicated team of technical, educational, and communications specialists to support PID adoption in UK institutions and address the issues that are currently hampering PID adoption. These include the high technical burden and cost of integration, as well as the low perceived value of PIDs. By taking a “support” approach, the proposed new UK-wide service will focus on lowering technical costs and difficulty, and working with PID providers to articulate the value proposition of the priority PIDs.

This next phase of the project will include carrying out a survey to establish sector readiness—both technical and social—followed by community engagement and consultation via a series of workshops, webinars, blog posts, etc. Work will also be done to recommend a suitable governance model; to calculate costs and identify potential funding streams, including impact assessments of different models; and to coordinate relations within and between stakeholder groups, including PID providers. RINCC meetings, which have been in hiatus since the end of 2021, will restart in the autumn in order to help shape, steer, and respond to this work.

In parallel with all these activities, work is also starting on establishing a RAiD Registration Agency (RA) for the UK. The Research Activity Identifier, developed by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), is seen as an essential component of the UK national PID strategy, but a roadmap and clear business case for a local RA will be needed before any firm decisions are made. Several RAiD pathfinder projects are therefore being set up in support of this.

With an aggressive timeline of late September/early October to complete this work, there is much to be done. But for those of us working on this important project, the rewards are clearly worthwhile. Our goal is to streamline workflows and achieve measurable efficiency gains in the UK by implementing these five interoperable priority PIDs in key research information systems, and to provide open access to consistent, accurate metadata.

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By Christopher Brown

Product Manager (Research) at Jisc.

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