ROR as community-supported infrastructure

By Maria Gould | July 24, 2023

As we have crossed the mid-point of 2023, we’re taking a moment to reflect on what has already been a very busy year for ROR!

In addition, we’ve published 10 new data releases since the beginning of the year in response to community feedback about registry additions and updates, and as part of ongoing metadata quality checks on existing registry records. ROR now includes more than 105,000 IDs and associated metadata records, and new registry updates are available on a rolling basis, approximately 1-2 times per month.

All of this progress is happening - and will continue to happen - because organizations are supporting ROR’s growth, guiding its development, and investing in its long-term sustainability.

Supporting ROR, as a community

As we’ve described previously, ROR’s sustainability model is based on a shared resourcing commitment by ROR’s three operating organizations - California Digital Library, Crossref, and DataCite - to fund ROR’s core operating expenses over the long term. This commitment ensures a baseline level of funding for ROR, enables us to make the service freely available for everyone, and minimizes dependence on unpredictable or time-limited sources of funds.

To supplement this baseline resourcing, ROR continues to receive outside investment by stakeholder organizations. These additional funds allow ROR to accelerate and scale our work and activities, and to invest in strategic time-limited projects. Community funding also showcases the importance of investing in core open infrastructure that all can benefit from regardless of their ability to pay for it.

Core infrastructure for other core infrastructure 

The latest example of community investment in ROR comes from ORCID. Last week, ORCID announced that it would be increasing its financial contribution to ROR to support ROR’s continued growth. ORCID is a long-time supporter of ROR, having been involved in the early planning stages that defined the initial vision for ROR, and active in community activities ever since then through our community advisory group and steering group. ROR is now the core organization identifier supported in ORCID and makes it possible for ORCID to normalize affiliation information against an open and interoperable identifier without being reliant on proprietary data. As ORCID’s Executive Director Chris Shillum explains, ROR plays a key role in the organization’s overall strategy: “Having a reliable way to identify organizations helps ORCID users and members in multiple ways, as a growing number of use cases clearly demonstrate. ORCID commends the commitment made by CDL, Crossref and DataCite in 2022 to jointly fund ROR’s core operating costs. As a fellow scholarly infrastructure organization, we at ORCID feel it is also our responsibility to contribute to ROR’s sustainability on behalf of our community.”

Supporting ROR through global coalitions

ROR has also been receiving investments from organizations, library consortia, and national research offices contributing to sustainable open science infrastructure since being selected by SCOSS in November 2022. This selection identifies ROR as essential open infrastructure, and as part of SCOSS’s fundraising campaign, organizations are encouraged to invest in noncommercial scholarly infrastructure initiatives to advance open knowledge. Nine months into the SCOSS campaign, we wanted to acknowledge the organizations that have stepped up to support ROR and highlight some of their reasons for investing in the open infrastructure that ROR provides and enables.

For these organizations, ROR represents an opportunity to advance strategic goals around identification and tracking of research. “Persistent identifiers are key to a robust scholarly infrastructure that makes the research process more efficient, clear, and meaningful,” said Clare Appavoo, CRKN Executive Director. “CRKN is a proud supporter of persistent identifiers through the ORCID Canada and DataCite Canada consortia, and we’re pleased that ROR is a recipient of our member contributions to SCOSS in this funding round.”

Open identifiers are especially important in the changing landscape of research dissemination. Angus Cook from the Council of Australian University Librarians described the importance of supporting infrastructure that supports open access:

“As consortiums and libraries expand services through publishing activities, in addition to providing access to content, supporting infrastructure that supports open access becomes increasingly important. One aspect of agreement management that becomes more critical as consortiums transition their agreements to open access, is the correct identification of participating institutions. Correct identification of institutions is a vital part of the workflow in ensuring authors are affiliated with the correct entity. As part of CAUL’s support for OA agreements and supporting infrastructure, we are keen to see open and accessible identifiers, such as ROR, being adequately resourced. Identifiers, like many standards, should be openly accessible and freely available.”

Why CDL, Crossref, and DataCite are supporting ROR

ROR is also a key component of each of its operating organization’s strategic objectives. ROR was identified by Crossref members as a top priority back in 2019, and ROR IDs play an important role in Crossref’s vision of the research nexus and its aims to make scholarly information easier to find, assess, and connect. For DataCite’s strategic focus on identifying and connecting knowledge, ROR IDs are key to establishing connections in DOI metadata to enable meaningful insights about how research is conducted and used. For CDL, investing in open metadata for affiliations aligns with a multi-faceted approach to make UC research - including the underlying metadata - more openly available. For example, identifying UC research to be made openly available requires accurate identification of UC-affiliated authors.

A commitment to open

As an early and continued signatory to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), ROR is committed to following best practices to ensure its long-term openness, availability, and sustainability. ROR’s operations are specifically structured to maximize the openness and availability of its data and protect against risks, vulnerabilities, and unpredictable circumstances that can befell other initiatives that don’t have similar safeguards in place. This is an especially crucial time to understand the importance of what it means to be open, and we are proud to be in the company of other POSI-aligned infrastructures committed to following similar practices.

We are grateful to all of the organizations that have been supporting ROR in one way or another over the years, and in the years to come.

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