ROR: a status review

A new player in the world of organisational IDs came into being in January this year: the Research Organization Registry, or ROR.

ROR is a project to create unique IDs for research organisations worldwide. It’s intended to provide a standard way for the scholarly community to refer to the organisations that employ, fund or publish them, in the same way as content can be identified by DOIs and the researchers themselves by ORCIDs.

Anyone grappling with the issues involved in reliably and unambiguously identifying organisations will be aware that there are already a number of organisational datasets out there, including Ringgold, GRID and the Funder Registry. So what makes ROR different?

  • Availability: Unlike Ringgold, it’s free and openly available under a CCO waiver.
  • Scope: Unlike the Funder Registry, it’s not limited to a particular subset of organisations.
  • Governance: Unlike GRID, it’s community-led, with the aim that organisations will maintain their own records.

ROR is steered by the California Digital Library, Crossref, Datacite and Digital Science, but has a larger group of signatories who have pledged to use it in their systems and supporters who have donated money towards its running costs.

The first step has been to produce a ‘minimal viable registry’:

  • Size: ROR is currently based on the GRID dataset – at the time of writing, it contained 96,793 organisations and reflected the May GRID release. At the moment, updates are created when new versions of GRID come out, but ultimately it will be possible to edit ROR records independently and the two datasets will diverge.
  • Mappings to other systems: All records contain GRID IDs and some also contain IDs for ISNI, the Funder Registry and/or Wikidata.
  • Content: Apart from these IDs, records generally contain organisation name, alternative names, country, organisation type, URL and Wikipedia URL.
  • Tools: There’s an online search interface and an API, and full JSON files are also available for download.

ROR’s current fundraising campaign aims to allow them to employ dedicated staff in order to facilitate their future plans:

  • Adding more metadata: ROR haven’t specified what this will be, but more detailed location information (city and state) would certainly be welcome. However, they have stated that they’ll continue to concentrate on top-level records and don’t plan to introduce hierarchical information.
  • Improving maintenance: ROR are looking at processes and policies for adding, correcting and merging records.
  • Integrating with other systems: By adding organisation name look-ups to manuscript tracking and funding application systems, ROR IDs can automatically be added to metadata. ROR are piloting this approach with the Dryad open repository of research data.
  • Getting funders more involved: ROR hope that they can encourage funders to use (and enforce the use of) ROR IDs by showing them the benefits in terms of viewing the output from their funding.
  • Taking advantage of local initiatives: Since many national bodies have their own ID systems, the coverage of ROR could be expanded by mapping these IDs to ROR IDs.

DataSalon are working on adding ROR compatibility alongside existing integration to other organisational datasets – if you’d like to discuss how ROR could be used with your own data, then please get in touch.