In China, about 85% of its population shares the same 100 surnames. This means that when you meet someone on the streets of China, there is a high probability that their surname could be Zhang, Wang, Li, Liu, or Cheng.
How does ambiguity in a name affect a researcher? Xiaolin Zhang, director of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says, “We must fully recognize the importance of author identity, especially for Chinese authors like me where there are 90 million people with my surname, Zhang.”
Uniquely identifying an author and giving them credit for their work is a challenge that can be addressed with the help of persistent identifiers (PIDs). This article explores the ORCID iD and the future of PIDs.
What is a persistent identifier?
A persistent identifier (PID) is an enduring reference to either an object, person, or organization. Here, an “object” can include a list of resources such as books, tables, datasets, or whitepapers.
The purpose of a persistent identifier is to identify and locate a valid resource. A PID is connected to a set of metadata that helps in the identification of the specific item. The term “persistent” refers to the uninterrupted access to digital resources for the years to come. PIDs are critical for the management of data associated with various scientific resources.
There are various PIDs for different types of resources identified. The most commonly used PIDs are:
- PIDs for objects like websites, software, and publications. For example, URN, DOI, ARKs, and Handle.
- PIDs for people, including researchers, authors, and other contributors. For example, ORCID and ISNI.
What is an ORCID iD?
ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier) is an open, not-for-profit, international organization formed by the research community to benefit all the stakeholders who support the research ecosystem. The vision of this organization is to uniquely identify a researcher or contributor and link their professional activities across disciplines, geographies, and time.
ORCID provides a persistent identifier, the ORCID iD, that uniquely distinguishes a researcher from others. The ORCID iD and the associated details are stored in the ORCID Registry, which can be accessed through a unique ORCID account to control and manage the data at the user’s discretion.
How does the ORCID iD benefit the scientific society?
In a vast pool of researchers, authors, and scientific contributors, the chances of an individual’s contributions going unnoticed or undiscovered are high. Here are some of the ways that an ORCID iD can benefit the scientific community:
Unique identification of contributors
Below are some examples of cases where ambiguity in researcher names can lead to complications, especially when receiving contributions:
- Two different authors share the same name, Samuel Jones.
- The names of two authors, Sara Jones and Samuel Jones, may be written as S. Jones.
- When the same person uses different forms of their name in different places, like Sofia Mary Fernadez, S. Mary Fernandez, Sofia Mary. F, or Sofia M. Fernandez.
These instances lead to confusion while identifying the authors and recognizing their work. An ORCID iD helps uniquely identify and distinguish a scientific contributor from others through a sixteen-digit identifier.
Centralized repository of professional activities
Applying the ORCID iD in all professional activities ensures its reflection in the ORCID registry, which can be easily shared. This helps create a centralized, well-connected repository of a researcher’s contributions, affiliations, awards, and more.
For example, using the ORCID iD in a peer review would reflect the recognition of the activity in the ORCID portal, and a researcher can share this record with any organization in the future.
Better discoverability and collaboration opportunities
The ORCID iD significantly improves discoverability and helps increase the chances of a researcher being recognized for their work.
For example, let’s assume that you have published an article in a journal and have linked your ORCID iD with it. Readers who would like to know more about your scholarly contributions can easily access this information via your ORCID profile. This transparency can create a chance for future work collaboration, an evaluation by a funder to grant funds, or consideration for an award.
Reusability and interoperability
Whatever be the case, ORCID iD lets you reuse the curated professional information that can be utilized wherever required, reducing the need to fill forms and applications.
ORCID iD is a versatile and interoperable identifier that is applicable in several institutions, publications and accepted by funders. It can be used in various scenarios like an application for grant submission or receiving funds, manuscript submission to a journal, or filling professional details on a researcher profile page.
Simple and free registration
Registration in the ORCID portal is simple, free of cost, and takes roughly one minute. There is no prerequisite to registering as a researcher in ORCID, allowing any scientific contributor to register for free. All it requires to fill the registration form is your name, email address, and password. After the initial registration steps, you can easily add any additional details regarding the affiliations or contributions.
Control of visibility
ORCID offers visibility at a very granular level and gives complete control over who can see what from an ORCID profile. The profile owner can choose from a variety of visibility settings for their information. Depending on the permission level granted, different information can be made available to different members or groups.
No one else can claim your ID or create it on your behalf. This feature of ORCID iD abides by the core principle of individual researcher control.
Auto-update of information
Manually updating information in your ORCID profile can be time-consuming. ORCID supports the automatic exchange of information from trusted organizations to your ORCID records. The auto-update is possible through long-lasting permissions that can be granted to your preferred organizations for up to 20 years or until you choose to revoke the access.
DataCite and Crossref are scientific data repositories that have collaborated with ORCID to support the auto-update function. The ORCID iD is first collected during manuscript submission, embedded in the published paper, and later transferred to the Crossref/DataCite repository. After receiving a valid ID, these repositories push the updated information to the respective ORCID profile records.
Applications of the ORCID iD
ORCID iD is versatile, and it finds its application in a variety of areas that bring transparency and openness to science. Check out some of the applications of ORCID iD below.
So far, over 7,000 journals collect ORCID iDs from their authors during the manuscript submission process. Some renowned publishers that use the ORCID iD in their system are PLOS, eLife, BMJ, Springer, Wiley, Atlas, and Elsevier.
A typical journal publication workflow using ORCID iD will look something like this:
- An author submits a manuscript to a publisher.
- The publisher collects the author’s ORCID iD and seeks permission to update the records.
- Using an ORCID API, the publisher collects the author’s data and fills out the journal submission form. This saves time and effort for the researcher.
- After publishing the submitted manuscript, the publisher connects the ORCID iD with the article metadata.
- The publisher updates the article DOI in the author’s ORCID record.
This end-to-end process increases the accuracy of the information, reliably connects authors and reviewers to their contributions, and helps in data sharing and management.
Institutions and research organizations
Similar to the publishing workflow, the ORCID iD works with the institutional connection as well. Once the research institution collects the researcher’s ORCID iD through an authentication login, they seek permission from the author/researcher. After receiving permission, they can enter the researcher’s affiliation details and institutional information into their ORCID record.
ORCID helps institutions resolve name ambiguities, determine how researchers are linked with them, keep track of their faculties’ contributions, and more.
Some institutions and research organizations that make use of ORCID iD are Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences (US), IEEE, and IOP.
ORCID draws a bridge between funding programs and awardees through its transparent workflows. According to the ORBIT Funder Reporting Survey Report, funders find it challenging to connect grants with the appropriate research outputs. Also, the majority of their funding reports were of poor quality or were submitted later than expected. As an inference, nearly 50% of the funders suggested incorporating ORCID in reporting workflows. By incorporating the ORCID iD in the funding workflow, errors in grant submission forms are reduced.
It also enables compliance with the funder’s system and reduces manual work for researchers. The ORCID iD allows a transparent grant review and enables a funder to update the ORCID record if the grant is awarded to the researcher and speed up the reporting process.
Some of the funding bodies that commit to using ORCID iD in their process are the Austrian Science Fund, CAPES, The Research Council of Norway, and The Science Foundation of Ireland.
The future of persistent identifiers
There is an existing provision to link other PIDs to an ORCID iD through trusted organizations. PIDs such as the ResearcherID, Scopus Author ID, Digital Author ID, Github username, etc., can be linked to your ORCID record through the “Search & Link wizard” in the ORCID portal.
Mapping other PIDs to ORCID creates a vast network of links that facilitates a robust research infrastructure. We can expect additional PIDs to be supported by ORCID in the future. This could lead to more accessible and shareable information that eases the work of all stakeholders, benefitting a wider community.
For a PID to be trusted and gain a wide user base, it must operate on an underlying sustainable model for its endurance. In the future, more value propositions must be investigated that go beyond simple data citation with PIDs.
Despite the increased adoption of PIDs, several institutions, funders, or publishers are yet to mandate it. Policies and protocols for persistent identifiers need to be streamlined globally across disciplines to unleash the true potential of PIDs. Flexibility, seamless integration, and resilience to change must be achieved without disrupting the existing users to make future-ready PIDs that could benefit not just the members of the scientific community but society at large.
Kriyadocs, our cloud-based journal and book publishing platform, enables publishers to set up a customized workflow to authenticate authors signing into the platform based on their ORCID iDs. Click here to know how it works.
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