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THOR – Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - THOR (THOR – Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-11-30

The THOR project established a sustainable international e-infrastructure for persistent identifiers that enables long-term access to critical information about the life cycle of research projects. It enables seamless integration between articles, data, and researcher information creating a wealth of open resources. This will result in reduced duplication, economies of scale, richer research services, and opportunities for innovation.

THOR met its aims to establish interoperability, integrate services, build capacity, and achieve sustainability. It provided advances on the human side by raising awareness, growing the PID community, and building capacity across Europe. It advanced technical infrastructure by enabling new more robust services, advancing the state-of-the-art, integrating PID services into systems used by researchers and scientists every day.

The work performed through THOR provides an enhanced basis for both researchers and organisations that will benefit from the European Open Science Cloud.
THOR defined and developed services to better identify and interlink contributors, articles, research artefacts - with a focus on research data - and organisations. It helped to grow and nurture the PID community and raise awareness across core disciplines of physics, earth and environmental sciences, life sciences, and the humanities. THOR helped to advance the services provided by the leading PID service providers ORCID and DataCite and integrate PID services into systems used by researchers and scientists in the life sciences, physics, earth and environmental sciences, and humanities.

The project will have an on-going impact through PID community as well as through the services that have been developed, integrated, and deployed by its committed partner organisations. Its strong engagement programme reached thousands of people across Europe (and beyond) through over 50 presentations, as well as dozens of workshops. The web-site reached people in over 140 countries. The THOR Ambassadors helped to spread awareness and share knowledge. Collaborations with other projects helped to provide a strong links across European infrastructure.
Research efforts have advanced the state of the art and are having a broad impact as evidenced through enhanced services for linking data and people, dramatic improvements in interoperable linking of identifiers (e.g. through the Scholix initiative), a deeper understanding of community needs, and exploration of identifier use in new contexts (e.g. federated identify management). Progress on identifiers for new types of objects essential for research and scholarship through establishing a new international Organisation Identifier alliance, has been dramatic.

Innovative service developments have exceeded initial expectations with deep integrations into operational services in life sciences, high energy physics, earth and environmental sciences, and the humanities. These integrations include some leading services in these disciplines such as the Protein Data Bank or European PubMed Central in the life sciences; Inspire in high energy physics, and the PANGAEA services in the earth and environmental sciences. The level of interest and uptake by the service development teams was strong. Given the short duration of the project and the complex development and release schedules for operational services, it was a surprise to see integrations within ten life sciences systems and four in high energy physics.

Persistent identifier service providers DataCite and ORCID made substantial enhancements to their capabilities during the project. This included at DataCite to better support new services, increase flexibility, and accommodate growth and shifts in its business model. ORCID introduced new APIs and enhanced support for interoperability.

The project’s extensive communication and engagement programme got stakeholders and project partners communicating. We connected with amplifiers and adopters to relay messages and scaled by connecting networks, engaging with service and platform providers, and cascading information. More than 50 presentations and 25 workshops touched thousands of people in Europe, North America, and Australasia. Many thousands more were engaged on-line including over 146 countries. Key events were also held outside of the partner countries to ensure broader awareness and engagement. We also took up opportunities to engage with the eInfrastructure unit at the Commission as well as other projects funded under Horizon 2020. We believe that this will lead to more effective and interoperable research infrastructure.

Finally, the project has enhanced both understanding of and likelihood of sustained persistent identifier services that will become fully integrated into the European research infrastructure. This will be supported by healthy service providers and persistent identifier services that are becoming better aligned with crucial end-user workflows each year.