ORCID: Major Policy Announcements in Italy and the UK

The ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) uniquely distinguishes researchers and stays with them for life, regardless of their employment or location.  The ORCID Registry can store key data about researchers, such as their publications, projects, qualifications, and employment history. ORCID can benefit research institutions by improving data quality and lightening administrative load, as internal systems can be tied in with data in the ORCID registry.  This why it is now being taken very seriously by the international research community.

The Benefit to Research Organisations

It is an ongoing problem for universities to link staff with their scholarly activities, to consistently benchmark research strengths and weaknesses, and thereby identify areas for strategic investment.  The increasing administrative workload needed for compliance with funders’ and auditors’ requirements, combined with the need to effectively manage internal records, is a growing challenge for research departments.  ORCID offers a solution for this data-management headache, one that institutions are willing to pay for.  Although individual researchers can use ORCID free of charge, institutions pay a subscription.  With that subscription, they get the additional benefits of an enhanced API, (for better systems integration), regular activity reports, and institution-wide registration of staff with ORCID (where they are not already registered as individuals).  A much more cost-effective way for an institution to join is to be part of a consortium.  Consortium membership has all the benefits of a premium institutional membership, but at half the cost.

Last week has been a big week for ORCID.  There have been two major announcements:  on Monday, the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) and the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Institutes (ANVUR) announced that Italy is going to sign up to ORCID as an entire nation!  It will tie into VQR, their national research assessment exercise, and will underpin their Italian Researcher IDentifier for Evaluation (IRIDE).  The second announcement, the following day, was from JISC, in the UK, which announced a national consortium for ORCID, where universities will benefit from reduced ORCID subscription costs.  A total of 72 of Britain’s 109 universities have expressed an interest in joining this consortium.  Unlike Italy, the JISC consortium is an opt-in arrangement.

ResearcherID and Scopus Author ID

Thomson Reuters’s ResearcherID and Elsevier’s Scopus Author ID are two proprietary identifiers which are designed to deal with the same problem addressed by  ORCID.  There is full interoperability between these identifiers and with ORCID, meaning that data can be transferred between all three.

Uniquely, the ORCID initiative is open, non profit, and community based.  Because of this independence and because of the recent news of adoption in Italy and the UK it seems to me that ORCID is well on its way to becoming the de facto researcher identifier.

The ORCID can be used to connect a researcher with research objects such as:

  • datasets
  • equipment
  • articles
  • media stories
  • citations
  • experiments
  • patents
  • notebooks
  • projects
  • institutions, and other affiliations


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Converting Maxmind’s New Geoip Database Format to MySQL

A Huge Number of IP Addresses to Resolve

IP addresses can be resolved to their approximate locations using FreeGeoip.net which, with its cap of 10,000 addresses an hour, should be fine for most applications.  Sometimes though, there are reasons to host that information database locally, perhaps for speed or bandwidth reasons.   The database behind FreeGeoip.net is Maxmind’s Geoip database.  They make a free version of this available for download.  This post describes how to migrate the new Maxmind Geoip database to MySQL.

This has been done plenty of times before, but only with Maxmind’s older Geoip Legacy databases, and not their newer, richer Geoip2 databases.  For new applications, it makes sense to now use the newer databases (for future-proofing and data quality reasons), but there does not seem to be a description about how to do this out there on the Web.  So this post is meant to address that information gap.

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Resolving an IP Address to Location Using Maxmind

If you buy an item online, but don’t include your address in the order, then your effort is wasted as the object of your desire cannot find its way to you.  So it is with Internet Protocol (IP).  When a person visits a website, his request to the server contains an IP address – the destination to which the server’s response must be sent.

The trick of matching up a visitor’s IP address to an actual physical location is achieved through a third-party service.  FreeGeoIP is a popular one.  It exposes a free API that will return the latitude, longitude, city, and country of a visitor based on his IP address.  There is no need to be paranoid though: this service can only identify a city or country.

The data that FreeGeoip uses is a freely downloadable location database, which can be obtained from Maxmind.

For a bit of fun, here’s the best guess for your location, using the freegeoip.net API.

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Mein Kampf: Royalties go to the Red Cross

Somebody I know with a love of old books owns a serialisation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, , .  The photograph shows the cover of one of the 18 instalments.  ‘Mein Kampf’ means ‘My Struggle’, and it is an autobiography of Adolf Hitler, first published in 1925.  In the book, he lays out his ideology and his vision for the future of Germany.

I was intrigued by this caption on the cover: ‘Royalties on all sales will go to the British Red Cross Society’.  I initially wondered why a respectable organisation like the British Red Cross might condone the regime in Germany.

In a contemporary review of the same translation, George Orwell stated that Hitler seemed to be respectable to many before the War:

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Visual Data Navigation Through Academic Modules

Using D3.js, it is possible to create interactive visualisations of large and complex datasets for the web.  It can also be used to create novel navigation interfaces.  So, in this example, it was used to create a navigation interface to individual taught modules in Waterford Institute of Technology.

This was achieved using a collapsible tree structure, one of the options offered natively within the D3.js library.  The effect is to make the navigation down to a specific module, both easy and visually pleasing.

Try for yourself.


D3.jsD3.js is a  JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. D3 helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG, and CSS. D3’s emphasis on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework, combining powerful visualization components and a data-driven approach to DOM manipulation.

Website: http://d3js.org/ 


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Using Microsoft Pivot In a Library Context

Result count throttled down to 30, as it initially generates the images on the fly, but you can go up after that. Try the following keywords biology, management, accounting, nursing

Our Library Catalogue in PivotViewer Silverlight Control



Presentation delivered on 13th Nov at ILI 2010 in London:

pivot_by_demand-150x150Click on these images below to view the pivot demonstrations used in the talk.

Top 5,000 books (Bib. records) sorted by demand:

pivot_by_location-150x150Coloured by item demand on book:

Coloured by item location of branch that holds book:

BeastQuest Collection: .cxml file only. You need to download pivot viewer for this link.  It is not in silverlight.

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