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Europe PMC team

 | 28 March 2023


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Improved affiliation search for grants

Integrating ROR IDs in Grant Finder

Funding and research organisations are increasingly looking to understand the impact of the research they support. To link institutions with grant awards from Europe PMC funders the Europe PMC Grant Finder tool now incorporates Research Organization Registry (ROR) IDs.

Linking grants and institutions

The Grant Finder tool from Europe PMC allows users to search and access information about 98,000 biomedical research grants from 37 Europe PMC funders. This information includes the affiliation of the principal investigator, who is awarded the grant. However, a search for grants by institutional affiliation can miss relevant entries due to variations in institutional names.

For example, the same organisation may be referred to as University of Cambridge, Cambridge University, etc.

Screenshot of the Grant Finder prior to the ROR ID integration. Affiliation drop-down menu suggests multiple options for the same organisation.

A ROR ID is an open persistent identifier for research organisations. It helps disambiguate names for over 102,000 institutions. ROR makes it easy for anyone to connect research organisations to research outputs. 

To improve the affiliation search function of the Grant Finder tool we have decided to map institutions in the Europe PMC grant database to corresponding ROR IDs. 

Integrating ROR IDs

At the start of this project some Europe PMC funders were already providing ROR IDs in the funding data they supplied. However as of July 2022 only ~10% of grants in Europe PMC were linked to a ROR ID. 

To assign ROR IDs to remaining affiliations, we have used an automated script to query the ROR REST API for the ~23,000 institution names in the grants database. The ROR API response includes not only a matching ROR ID, but also the matching confidence score and the type of matching algorithm applied. Importantly, it provides a binary indicator of whether the score is high enough to consider the organisation correctly matched. 

Using the ROR API we were able to confidently match 41% of institutions. This was followed by a manual check for any potential errors. Institutions associated with multiple grants were prioritised in this step.

As a result, over 80% of grants in Europe PMC now have a ROR ID associated with the principal investigator’s institution. Over 2600 unique ROR IDs are recorded in the Europe PMC grants database and can be retrieved programmatically as part of the GRIST API core response.

Screenshot of the GRIST API core response query for (gid:081052) with institution name and ROR ID highlighted in red.

Improved grants search

To streamline user experience we then used the ROR ID to suggest matching affiliations in the Grant Finder search. When users enter an affiliation into the Grant Finder search, the auto-suggestion feature will display a single name for institutions associated with a ROR ID, consolidating different institutional aliases. The feature also displays the ROR ID in brackets.

Screenshot of the Grant Finder after the ROR ID integration. Affiliation drop down menu consolidates aliases for Cambridge University under the organisation’s primary name –  ‘University of Cambridge’, with the ROR ID displayed in brackets.

Future plans

Our ambition is to enable grant search by ROR ID of the associated institution. In the current implementation, only the institution name is used for affiliation search via the GRIST API and the Grant Finder tool.

The current integration primarily supports research funders, who want to view grant allocations through an institutional lens. However, we believe that it creates many opportunities for wider adoption. Lessons learnt from incorporation of ROR IDs into the grant data could help with future steps, for example, enriching publications with ROR IDs. 

Supporting innovation by integrating related research outputs is an important part of Europe PMC’s mission. Over the years we have built a rich network of research objects connected via persistent identifiers. This includes DOIs/PMIDs/PMCIDs for journal articles, PPRIDs for preprints, ORCIDs for research authors, accession numbers and DOIs for data, and Grant IDs and DOIs for grants. We hope that addition of ROR IDs to Europe PMC will pave the way for new tools that build on this interconnected network of research.

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Europe PMC is a service of the Europe PMC Funders' Group, in partnership with EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI); and in cooperation with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI/NLM) . It includes content provided to the PubMed Central (NLM/PMC) archive by participating publishers.