Texas A&M University became an ORCID member in 2013, as one of the first universities in the US to get involved with ORCID. This blog post is based on a presentation by Aaron Retteen, Digital Services and Repository Librarian at the Texas A&M University School of Law, from an ORCID US Community call on the topic of integrating ORCID into law scholarship workflows, which took place on April 28th, 2020. Notes and slides from the call are available. Many thanks to Aaron for sharing his experience! 

ORCID has become especially relevant in the law scholarship landscape as US News prepares to rank US law schools based on scholarly impact, using citation data from HeinOnline. As one of the top law databases in the country, HeinOnline has integrated with ORCID to allow authors represented in their database to connect their ORCID iD with their author profile in HeinOnline, to write citations from HeinOnline to ORCID, and import citation data directly from ORCID to HeinOnline, enabling a more complete record of works to be considered for the new “scholarly impact” ranking.

Aaron Retteen, Digital Services and Repository Librarian at Texas A&M University School of Law, was already familiar with ORCID when he moved to Texas, having seen widespread scholarly adoption of ORCID at his former institution, Florida State University. In order to help law faculty at Texas A&M University prepare and take advantage of the new connection between ORCID and HeinOnline (as well as help faculty with name disambiguation and connections to other persistent identifiers), far more advocacy work was needed. With a general lack of updated scholarly practices amongst law faculty, in terms of integrating with online platforms and other scholarly communication tools such as DOIs, and with faculty already experiencing fatigue from constantly having to sign up for new “digital stuff,” it was going to take a lot of work to convince law faculty that ORCID could be their Excalibur, “the one system to rule them all.”

To get started, Texas A&M University law librarians implemented an intensive outreach campaign to get faculty to sign up for ORCID. First, they were able to gain in-person speaking time at a faculty meeting. Although in-person meetings are not possible for many institutions right now due to the pandemic, Retteen said that having a captive audience is a great opportunity for promoting ORCID registration. After a second faculty meeting, they set up a registration drive right outside of the room, asking IT staff to set up computers and monitors for immediate sign up. Four librarians volunteered to assist faculty at those computers, and due to this on-site drive, 60% of law faculty signed up for an ORCID iD. As an added perk, anyone who signed up received ORCID swag after completing their registration. 

For the remaining 40% of faculty, Retteen and colleagues launched a follow-up email campaign. The remaining faculty had already expressed skepticism, so these follow-up emails were both an advocacy campaign and an offer of assistance. After explaining ORCID’s ability to reduce data entry due to its many integrations, the librarians offered many options for registration assistance – faculty could sign up for an in-person session, a zoom call (this was offered even before the pandemic), or simple email instructions. All of the follow-ups emphasized how little time this would take to achieve, because many faculty used the excuse of time commitment as a way of dismissing ORCID. 

The registration drive proved very successful, but it was aided by other factors aligning on campus:

  • Texas A&M University had recently created its own researcher information system using VIVO, Scholars@TAMU, and had put a great deal of outreach behind it – that outreach aided with Retteen’s campaign because Scholars@TAMU has a built-in ORCID API integration, making it an easy two-step registration for both systems at once. 
  • The university was (and is) working on improving its annual reporting systems, and the vendors of all of those systems want to integrate with ORCID and DOI metadata; this vendor enthusiasm definitely aided with administrative and faculty buy-in. 
  • Retteen received great support from his library director, which aided in gaining traction with other stakeholders. 
  • Right around the time of the ORCID outreach campaign, HeinOnline announced its own ORCID integration, which garnered enthusiasm and drove adoption from faculty.  

Retteen is already seeing use cases demonstrating the benefits of ORCID from Texas A&M University  faculty. One faculty member recently called him and thanked him and the library for all the work they had done surrounding ORCID adoption. The faculty member was participating in ever more interdisciplinary projects, and one such project required an ORCID iD. If the library had not helped the faculty member through the sign-up process, they might have had to abandon the project because they would have no idea what to do. These kinds of stories have convinced Retteen that their work on ORCID is only going to gain more traction over time. 

If you have any questions about Texas A&M University’s approach to ORCID adoption, or if you would like to learn more about ORCID and law scholarship, please contact orcidus@lyrasis.org