Assigning DOIs to grants for transparency and research

Jun 3, 2021

Grant numbers of publications, an interesting piece of metadata (to economists 😅) that allow one to tie financing to publications. In addition, to enabling funding bodies to track the progress and success of the funded projects.

In a recent work on the Impact of COVID on publication rates, I tried to tie a grant number to a specific funding agency and project. However, Grant ids listed in publications are unfortunately a mess. Every country, agency and foundation use their own unique identifiers. This meant that for that paper, I could only infer the existence of the grant. To address more specific questions, like the amount of money, acceptance date, summary and time horizon, there was no way to do it for papers published across the globe.

This problem is not unique to registrars of grant IDs. Journals and publishers had the same problem before the wide adoption of DOIs. Similarly, tying a publication uniquely to the correct author has been more guesswork than it should have been. In fact, there is a massive body of literature on methods to disambiguate author and inventor names. The problem with author names will, I hope, be resolved with the wide adoption of ORCID identifiers.

The Solution: DOIs for grants, awards, and facilities

To make it easier to trace Grants, Cross-Ref through the Founder Registry proposes that Grants should receive a DOI and be references through them.

Suppose grants are given DOIs, and these are included in publications in the future. Then it will be possible to address new research questions relating to the reach, efficiency and magnitude of scientific financing, which until now was not possible.