Thursday, 4 June 2020

Global grant IDs in Europe PMC

In September 2019 we welcomed the first open, global grant IDs to Europe PMC. Wellcome became the first funder to register DOIs for their grant awards with Crossref. Grant metadata is provided by Europe PMC, and in a pilot integration, the grant IDs were featured in a PLOS ONE publication. This is a very exciting development that will hopefully make it easier to effectively track the impact of research funding. So what is the big news about?

What are grant IDs?

Open, global grant identifiers have been in the making for some time. Though grant numbers are already in use by many funders, they are often local and based on an internal pattern. 
This might create some issues when looking up grant information provided by different funders - for a grant with a local ID 207467 two records exist in Europe PMC, one awarded by Wellcome and another by the European Research Council.
One of the proposed solutions is adoption of global grant IDs in the form of DOIs, which offer the advantages of being unique, persistent, and easy to integrate into existing systems.
To create DOIs for their grant awards funders need to follow three simple steps:
  • join Crossref as a member;
  • register associated metadata, such as grant award title, amount, currency, date, etc;
  • provide an openly available online resource to which the DOI would resolve - a landing page describing the grant.

Creating grant DOIs

As the first step in the process, Wellcome became a Crossref member through a new type of membership developed specifically for this purpose. It is distinct from the publisher membership and is designed for funding agencies. Upon registration Wellcome was assigned a unique DOI prefix.


DOI example for a Wellcome-supported grant.
For the second step, Europe PMC registered global grant IDs for Wellcome-funded awards with Crossref on behalf of the funding agency. Because Europe PMC already runs an open database of grant awards for all 31 Europe PMC funders, we were best placed to provide Crossref with the necessary metadata. 
The metadata schema is comprehensive and allows for a detailed overview of the grant. Europe PMC presents the information registered for most of the fields, including the funding percentage for grant awards supported by multiple funders, or ORCIDs for investigators on the grant (see scheme below). The full schema and documentation are available on GitHub.


Metadata fields that Europe PMC provides to Crossref when registering a global grant ID.

Greater transparency for funding information

The beauty of a DOI is that it points to a physical location, some place where an interested user can see the details of a particular grant. For Wellcome, that place is a grant record on Europe PMC’s website. This means that the funding information becomes more transparent and can be easily linked to the research output.
Example of the grant record on the Europe PMC website. This record matches the grant DOI referenced in the PLOS ONE article below.
In a pilot effort the journal PLOS ONE coordinated with Wellcome-funded authors to include newly registered global grant IDs in the metadata of the publication. This means that the readers can now seamlessly navigate from the article to the grant record and examine the support provided by Wellcome for this particular study.


Global grant IDs for two Wellcome grants featured in the Funding section of a PLOS ONE publication. The link for the first of these Wellcome grants leads to the grant record shown in the figure above.
Notably, all of this grant-associated metadata is freely available not only on Europe PMC’s website but also programmatically, through the public GRIST API. The newly created global grant ID along with the local grant number have been incorporated into the API response. The information will also be available via Crossref’s APIs later in 2020. 

Future plans

DOIs for grants have been registered on behalf of Wellcome for 237 grants awarded in 2019. Grant IDs will be assigned retrospectively to Wellcome grants awarded and registered in Europe PMC’s GRIST database from years prior to 2019. This will encompass approximately 13,500 Wellcome grants currently available in Europe PMC. 


The adoption of global grant IDs also allows us to create a more interlinked PID (persistent identifier) graph - as Europe PMC hosts data for both publications and grant awards we are well-positioned to link publication DOIs with DOIs for grants, supporting better tracking of the research funding impact. 
We hope that by implementing global grant IDs, grant data can be easily collected on submission by publishers and repositories and automatically fed into researcher assessment platforms, thereby simplifying researchers’ workflows.

For more information

Europe PMC funders, please contact helpdesk@europepmc.org if you’d like more information about registering grant DOIs. 
For more general information from Crossref please see their website.
Europe PMC’s contribution to this work has been funded by the Europe PMC funders and the European Commission: FREYA - Connected Open Identifiers for Discovery, Access and Use of Research Resources (777523)

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