Introduction for policy makers

Policy makers across the research domain are benefitting from the increased use of Persistent Identifiers (PIDs), which help to make more aspects of researcher's professional activities visible. Identifiers for people, datasets, organisations, publications and resources are a technological innovation with the power to help research and researchers at a global scale in the digital age.

Research funders are integrating PIDs to make the creation, collection and analysis of research information easier, and more accurate. Here are just a few examples of how this works in practice.

In the UK, the national research evaluation exercise, the Research Excellence Framework used DOIs to make the collection of journal articles for evaluation more efficient. If the researcher provided a DOI, they didn't need to submit a hard copy of their article. The Swedish national research council, the Vetenskapsrådet, have made ORCID iDs a mandatory part of their grant application system making it easier to link individuals who have received funding to their publications.

Publishers have long supported the use of DOIs for journal articles and cited datasets, as their ongoing support for Crossref shows. However, there is a movement towards embedding identifiers for authors into articles and associated metadata, supported by a growing number of publishers who have started to require ORCID iDs for corresponding authors.

These trends show the value of PIDs for policy makers in any organisation that creates or collects research information. But they mark just the beginning. A new initiative provides contributor badges for a range of vital activities, such as data curation or visualization. Peer review activities can now be credited in a standardised way. This increases transparency and trust, and enables funders, and employers to recognise and reward these essential contributions to the health of research.

All of this information, connected using PIDs, can be linked back to the funders who helped to make it all possible via systems such as Funding Data or to the institutions who hosted the work via services such as GRID.

For anyone interested in understanding researcher behaviour, shaping research policy or in recognising the full scale of researchers' skills and professionalism, PIDs are now a fundamental part of their toolkit. Implementing PIDs, and encouraging others to do the same, is a brilliant investment in the efficiency, robustness and transparency of research, whatever the discipline and wherever it is carried out.