ORCID Registry aims to prevent authorship confusion

New initiative enables researchers to create unique IDs for their profiles

Example of a researcher profile entered by Michael Taylor, a Technology Research Specialist at Elsevier who worked on the ORCID initiative.

Holly Falk-Krzesinski was a newly married graduate student in microbiology and immunology when she got word that she would have her first paper published in a scholarly journal. On the day she was to submit her manuscript, she placed an important call from her lab at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois.Holly Falk-Krzesinski, PhD

"I called my husband at work and very seriously asked him if he still planned to stay married for the rest of our lives," she said. "I told him I knew he was sincere when he said his vows to me at our wedding, but I needed to double check before using Falk-Krzesinski as my formal published name."

The answer was positive on both counts. "Without hesitation, he said he still wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and I should go ahead and publish as Falk-Krzesinski," she reported.

But when she hung up, her lab partners looked at her incredulously.  "They asked me, 'What were you thinking?' And I told them, 'Publications are forever, but marriage may not be."

That was 20 years ago. This year, Dr. Falk-Krzesinski, now VP of Global Academic Relations for Elsevier, renewed her vows with her husband.

However, this kind of confusion persists in scholarly publishing. For example, sometimes a name change can trip the system into creating an additional profile for the researcher, meaning that his or her works can no longer be found under a single profile. Also, when researchers in similar fields have the same names, it can be hard to tell who's who. That problem is especially pervasive in South Korea, where about half the population has the surnames Kim, Lee or Park, according to 2000 census data of the Korean National Statistical Office.

That's a serious problem when everything from tenure to funding hinges on a researcher's opus – and those who hold the influence will look at the official profile before the researcher's CV.[note color="#f1f9fc" position="alignnone" width=800 margin=10]

How to get an ORCID

To register, researchers should visit the ORCID website, where they can create a complete online record of their research and publications. ORCID is free to individuals.

What does an ORCID look like?

An ORCID is a 16-digit number presented in the form of a web address that leads to the researcher's profile. For example: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8534-5985.

Learn more

For more information, see the press releases by ORCID and Elsevier, and visit the ORCID website at orcid.org. An in-depth article about ORCID by Mike Taylor and Chris Shillum will appear in the upcoming Editors' Update on October 31.[/note]

Starting today, ORCID can help remedy systemic name ambiguity in scholarly publishing.

Researchers and scholars can register for a unique ID from ORCID (the Open Researcher and Contributors ID repository), which will link to their research output. They will also be able to synchronize their ORCID record data with external systems including Scopus, the world's largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.Chris Shillum

These ORCID IDs can be used by editors, funding agencies, publishers and institutions to identify individuals in the same way that ISBNs and DOIs identify books and articles, explained Chris Shillum, VP of Product Management, Platform and Content at Elsevier and a member of the ORCID Board of Directors.

'A community initiative'

ORCID is a nonprofit organization founded by academic institutions, professional bodies, funding agencies and publishers. It has been launched with the help of donations, sponsorships and grants from across the scholarly communication sector and will sustain itself through membership fees for institutions and organizations.

"There have been several earlier attempts to create unified ID systems, but none had the universal adoption necessary to becoming a standard," Shillum said. " One of the aims of ORCID is to become a switchboard, interlinking various other researcher identification systems and facilitating the exchange of data between them."Mike Taylor

"To succeed, ORCID has to build upon the community's experience," said Mike Taylor, a Technology Research Specialist for Elsevier Labs who worked on the ORCID initiative. "The team behind the repository has worked closely with experts in researcher identification systems from across academia and industry."

As a founding sponsor of ORCID, Elsevier helped fund the initiative and contributed staff efforts.

Elsevier expects to integrate ORCID with many of its products and services over time, "increasing interoperability with other services and saving time for our authors, reviewers, editors and customers," Shillum said. Researchers will be able to import profile details and their publication list from Scopus, saving time and increasing accuracy when setting up their ORCID profile.

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