October 7, 2015, by Graham Kendall

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID)

In almost every aspect of our lives, we have a unique identifier, enabling us to be uniquely identified. This might be a student/staff ID, a bank account number, a customer reference for a utility service etc. You are little more than a number inside an IT system!

When you create an account with a journal, you will get a unique identifier. This is likely to be a username that you choose or your email address. However, this leads to a two-fold problem.

  1. You may (I hope) sign up to many different journals.
  2. Even if you use the same identifier on different journals, they are not linked.

The scientific publishing industry has evolved over hundreds of years, rather than being designed, so it is not a surprise that we find ouslves in this position. The rise of the Internet has highlighted the limitations of the current model and we find ourselves in the position we are today.

There is some evidence that the sector is able to come together in order to improve the system. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) was introduced in 1997. This system is a way of uniquely identifying a scientific paper. Importantly, it also provides a persistent URL so that once you know the DOI, you can access a paper using a URL of the form http://dx.doi.org/DOI. Where the paper is actually located is of no concern, as long as the underlying DOI system is updated when the owner relocates the paper.

Since the DOI system was introduced, many (if not the majority) papers that were published prior to its introduction have been captured. It is even possible to locate Einstein’s 1905 seminal paper on special relativity using its DOI (10.1002/andp.19053221004).

If we could get to a position where every academic had a unique identifier it would eliminate the problem of author disambiguation, which is the problem of trying to use somebody’s name to find all of their papers; and only theirs, not anybody elses.

Probably, the most popular option at the moment is ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID). If you have an ORCID identifier you can specify it when you submit an article and your ORCID identifier will be used to link you to that article. You can them view your papers on the ORCID web site. As an example, here are my publications, as shown on the ORCID web site.

ORCID is gradually being used in more and more workflows and I believe that it will become the dominant method to uniquely identify an author.

So what should you do?

  1. We strongly recommend that you register for an ORCID identifier. You can register at http://orcid.org/.
  2. Login to ORCID and search for your papers and assign them to yourself
  3. EMAIL me your ORCID ID. Use the email this link and DO NOT change the subject line (as I will set up a filter), but in the body of the email put your staff ID, your name, your School/Department, your Faculty and your ORCID identifier.
  4. You might also want to consider registering for a Google Scholar account (see mine here as an example), a ResearchGate account (see mine here as an example) and a ResearcherID account (see mine here as an example). These all have similar functions to ORCID but ORCID is becoming the standard. If you do register for Google Scholar, ResearchGate or ResearcherID, please include these identifiers in the email that you send to me (see above).


Posted in Publication RecordResearch at UNMCResearch Tool