This blog post is from Lettie Conrad and Michelle Urberg, cross-posted from the The Scholarly Kitchen.
As sponsors of this project, we at Crossref are excited to see this work shared out.
The scholarly publishing community talks a LOT about metadata and the need for high-quality, interoperable, and machine-readable descriptors of the content we disseminate. However, as we’ve reflected on previously in the Kitchen, despite well-established information standards (e.g., persistent identifiers), our industry lacks a shared framework to measure the value and impact of the metadata we produce.
When Crossref began over 20 years ago, our members were primarily from the United States and Western Europe, but for several years our membership has been more global and diverse, growing to almost 18,000 organizations around the world, representing 148 countries.
As we continue to grow, finding ways to help organizations participate in Crossref is an important part of our mission and approach. Our goal of creating the Research Nexus—a rich and reusable open network of relationships connecting research organizations, people, things, and actions; a scholarly record that the global community can build on forever, for the benefit of society—can only be achieved by ensuring that participation in Crossref is accessible to all.
In August 2022, the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo (PDF) on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research (a.k.a. the “Nelson memo”). Crossref is particularly interested in and relevant for the areas of this guidance that cover metadata and persistent identifiers—and the infrastructure and services that make them useful.
Funding bodies worldwide are increasingly involved in research infrastructure for dissemination and discovery.
Preprints have become an important tool for rapidly communicating and iterating on research outputs. There is now a range of preprint servers, some subject-specific, some based on a particular geographical area, and others linked to publishers or individual journals in addition to generalist platforms. In 2016 the Crossref schema started to support preprints and since then the number of metadata records has grown to around 16,000 new preprint DOIs per month.
We’ve just added to our input schema the ability to include affiliation information using ROR identifiers. Members who register content using XML can now include ROR IDs, and we’ll add the capability to our manual content registration form, participation reports, and metadata retrieval APIs in the near future. And we are inviting members to a Crossref/ROR webinar on 29th September at 3pm UTC.
We’ve been working on the Research Organization Registry (ROR) as a community initiative for the last few years. Along with the California Digital Library and DataCite, our staff has been involved in setting the strategy, planning governance and sustainability, developing technical infrastructure, hiring/loaning staff, and engaging with people in person and online. In our view, it’s the best current model of a collaborative initiative between like-minded open scholarly infrastructure (OSI) organizations.
Last year, Project Manager Maria Gould described the case for publishers adopting ROR and ROR was ranked the number one priority at our last in-person annual meeting. Now it’s time that Crossref’s services themselves took up the baton to meet the growing demand.
The inclusion of ROR in the Crossref metadata will help everyone in the scholarly ecosystem make critical connections more easily. For example, research institutions need to monitor and measure their output by the articles and other resources their researchers have produced. Journals need to know with which institutions authors are affiliated to determine eligibility for institutionally sponsored publishing agreements. Funders need to be able to discover and track the research and researchers they have supported. Academic librarians need to easily find all of the publications associated with their campus.
Earlier this month, GRID and ROR announced that after working together to seed the community-run Research Organization Registry, GRID would be retiring from public service and handing the proverbial torch over to ROR as the scholarly community’s reliable universal open identifier for affiliations. That means that our members who have been using GRID now need to consider their move to ROR and think about how they can add ROR IDs into the metadata that they manage and share through Crossref.
We’ve been able to include ROR IDs for our grant metadata schema as affiliation information for two years, since July 2019. And the Australia Research Data Commons (ARDC) was the first member to add ROR IDs to the Crossref system in 2020. In early July, we completed the work to accept ROR IDs for affiliation assertions for all other types of records with an affiliation or institution element, such as journal articles, book chapters, preprints, datasets, dissertations, and many more.
Next, we will commence the plans to support ROR in our other tools and services, such as Participation Reports. We’ll work on alignment with the Open Funder Registry and share our plans to collect the information via the new user interface we’re developing for registering and managing metadata. Open Journal Systems (OJS) already has a ROR Plugin, developed by the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB). This supports the collection of ROR IDs and future releases of this plugin and the OJS DOI plugin will allow including ROR IDs in the metadata sent to Crossref, to support thousands of our members to share ROR IDs via their Crossref metadata.
We also aim to add ROR to our metadata retrieval options, including the REST API, which recently saw the start of an unblocking with our move to a more robust technical foundation.
The call for participation
Many Crossref publishers, funders, and service providers are already planning to integrate ROR with their systems, map their affiliation data to ROR, and include ROR in Crossref metadata. In addition to publishers and funders, libraries, repositories, and other stakeholders are developing support for ROR. For example, the Plan S Journal Checker tool uses ROR IDs to let people check whether a particular journal is compliant with an author’s funder and institutional open access policies. In addition, the ROR website shows a growing list of active and in-progress ROR integrations.
Crossref members registering research grants via Altum’s ProposalCentral system can already add ROR IDs. Now those registering articles, books, preprints, datasets, dissertations, and other research objects, can start including much clearer and all-important affiliation metadata as part of their content registration going forward. As with all newly-introduced metadata elements, we recommend adding ROR IDs from now and ongoing, but planning a distinct project to backfill older records. We know that more than 80% of records have been updated and enriched at least once with additional and cleaner metadata, so as members do this routinely, they can include ROR IDs alongside updating URLs, license or funding information, and other metadata.