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A review and validation of the recommendations of the JISC Researcher Identifier Task and Finish Group.

Consultation on Unique Identifiers for Researchers

JISC Project to provide: A review and validation of the recommendations of the JISC Researcher Identifier Task and Finish Group.

The Researcher Id consultation report is now available

JISC has awarded a contract to Clax Ltd to undertake a sector validation of the recommendations of the JISC Researcher Identifier Task and Finish Group.   The aims and purpose of the study are to validate the recommendations of the group by undertaking a broad consultation on the recommendations and assessing the business implications, costs and benefits of their implementation for research stakeholders.

The review will be conducted by Nicky Ferguson, Seb Schmoller, Dick Moore and Helen Lawton Smith working closely with JISC's Josh Brown. It will commence on 30 April 2012 and will report in mid June. The aim of the exercise is to offer the UK HE sector both an opportunity to provide feedback on the JISC Researcher Identifier Task and Finish Group recommendations and a detailed understanding of the implications of adopting them.

Introduction and background

At the recent Knowledge Exchange meeting on Digital Author Identifiers in London, Clifford Lynch, speaking in the panel session, was asked to speculate on what possibilities would be unlocked if the author identifier problem was solved.  His response was “a record of human achievement going back 500 years and forward into the future”. Using a common researcher identifier within UK research would be one step towards that ambitious goal, and along the way it could allow:

  • a variety of services to be built on student and staff information;
  • opportunities for easing communications between researchers, publishers, funding bodies and research organisations;
  • lower costs and less duplication in existing processes;
  • the opportunity to take a step closer to indexing the world’s knowledge, in an accurate and meaningful way so that academics and government can benefit both from the “hidden web” and from access to high quality, refereed research and data, easily found and accurately referenced.

With ISNI and VIAF closely collaborating and an expressed desire for both to work together with ORCID, the time is right for the UK to prepare to take that step. This project aims to examine the likely results of (and any barriers to) realising the 10 recommendations made by the Task and Finish Group, by conducting interviews and a survey and examining the possible benefits and costs. It builds on the detailed stakeholder interviews and analysis already undertaken by Nicky Ferguson for the Task and Finish Group for the stakeholder use cases (PDF) and identifier needs (PDF) reports.

The work is divided into two strands:

Strand one is to assess the feasibility and potential costs of a national scale membership and use of the Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID) solution and how they might best be met, specifically to:

  • Review minimum data elements to ensure that they will be fit for the range of purposes cited in the use case reports.
  • Assess possible costs in providing this minimum data.
  • Consider national or sector-wide subscription to commercial products to reduce costs and administrative burden.
  • Assess the potential for bulk uploads from institutions and other organisations to enable those that so wish to obtain IDs for their staff en masse.
  • Establish the level of coverage of the HE community that would result in the greatest practical benefit.
  • Estimate the scale of any potential benefits to UK HE of national scale membership and use of ORCID.
  • Assess timescales for costs/benefits

The project will need to delineate the national systems that the sector will continue to depend on both for administrative functions and canonical data.

Strand two is to undertake an open, public UK-wide consultation on the substance of the ten recommendations, which should seek to:

  • Engage a sufficiently broad section of the UK HE community to ensure that the consultation can reliably represent the views of the sector.
  • Assess the level of support for improvements in research identification in general, and for the recommendations in particular
  • Afford a number of means for the sector to provide feedback.
  • Provide a range of data to support the evolution and implementation of the recommendations, including detailed qualitative case studies as well as quantitative data.
  • Uncover unanticipated concerns or questions that the membership of the group may not have addressed.
  • Identify communities or groups which should be included in subsequent activity in this area.

The consultants will be gathering information in three ways - through stakeholder interviews, a targeted online survey and an online teleconference discussion towards the end of the project to validate emerging findings, in addition the team will be using social media to identify and curate relevant content from the internet. This approach has been previously adopted with some success and should maximize the opportunity to gather opinions and correlate evidence in this tight window.  

The outcomes of the review will be to provide:

  • An detailed synthesis of views presented during the consultation
  • A summary of the key findings from the consultation
  • A business case report assessing the costs and benefits of the adoption of the recommendations, with likely timescales.
  • An analysis of the systems and services the proposed identifier solution would have to interact with, including gaps and opportunities.


If you wish to engage with any aspect of this work or for more information contact project manager: Nicky Ferguson (r-id or JISC programme manager Josh Brown (

Documents & Multimedia

Start date
30 April 2012
End date
15 June 2012
Funding programme
Digital infrastructure: Research management programme
Research management: Research information management