A Warm Welcome for ORCID’s New Executive Director, Chris Shillum | ORCID

“JP: How do you see open scholarly infrastructure developing in the next few years?

CS: There are a number of fairly well-established open scholarly infrastructure organizations such as Crossref, ORCID, and DataCite, and we definitely need to look at how we can work more effectively together to deliver what I might call joined-up capabilities and joined-up experiences to our mutual users and members. So I think that’s one thing I’d like to see developed. But there are also lots of gaps.

We know that there’s huge interest in enabling scholars to represent their work in ways that are challenging because there still aren’t identifiers for every kind of research output, and there aren’t good taxonomies of every kind of contribution that research has made. I don’t necessarily think it’s ORCID’s role to take all of that on, but we can work with our fellow scholarly infrastructure initiatives to lay the path for other groups to come along and benefit from our collective experience. …

So I was involved in a set of very early discussions which led to the RA21 recommendations, and then in turn to SeamlessAccess, which is all about applying modern authentication technology to ease the problems researchers face with access to resources that their institutions have provided for them. This has a close tie-in with ORCID and CrossRef because it’s ultimately about getting some of these barriers out of the way so researchers can focus on doing the research without having to struggle with systems that aren’t joined up properly. Most recently, I’ve been working on an initiative called GetFTR which is about improving the user journey between all manner of tools and content discovery systems and authoritative published content. 

I guess some people might say that these problems will diminish with the move to Open Access, but if you look at SeamlessAccess, it’s about improving access to many kinds of resources that researchers need and their institutions have to vouch that they should have access to, like shared research infrastructure and research collaboration tools. We know from researchers themselves that they really appreciate a lot less hassle dealing with usernames and passwords and access control, for all kinds of resources. So that’s really what SeamlessAccess is all about. It’s not done yet, but we’ve made some good progress in starting to solve that problem and make it easier….

But I think the most difficult and most satisfying milestone which kind of coincided with when I left the Board was when ORCID finally got to sustainability and financial break-even. The most challenging thing over the past decade has been finding a model that enabled us to provide a vast majority of ORCID services freely and openly, yet with enough support to sustain the organization. It’s so easy to underestimate just how difficult that is in the world of open infrastructure, and it was a great achievement for everyone—for the team, for founding Executive Director Laure Haak, and the Board to eventually get to that point after almost 10 years….”