ORCID identifiers galore!

Egon has reminded us that adoption of ORCID (Open researcher and collaborator ID) is gaining apace. It is a mechanism to disambiguate (a Wikipedia term!) contributions in the researcher community and to also remove much of the anonymity (where that is undesirable) that often lurks in social media sites.

This blog is now ORCID-enabled (my ORCID should appear at the top of this post for example, where you should be able to find it as 0000-0002-8635-8390, although the signature thumbnail orcid_24x24 is obscured by my gravatar, an older system for providing information about someone). We also add ORCIDs to all data depositions[cite]10.14469/ch/191199[/cite].

You will not yet find them in many journal articles, which was the whole original point of their introduction. They can however already be used to log into e.g. manuscript submission sites, for example the Journal of Chemoinformatics and I gather many other journal submission systems will probably start using it in 2015. From there it is short step to incorporating them into journal articles routinely.

To counter the slightly awkward association with “being reduced to a mere number”, we need to start seeing genuine benefits from its pervasive use. From my point of view, there will be one immediate application. At my university we run a system called Symplectic, which in effect tracks all aspects of one’s research activities, including sourcing online publications. Each time Symplectic thinks it has found e.g. one of my articles, it sends me an email asking me to verify its discovery. I then have to spend 5 minutes or so acknowledging it was written by me, and then adding further links to e.g. instrumental resources used for that research. One of those resources is the high performance computing unit here. But since that resource already incorporates ORCID via e.g. [cite]10.14469/ch/191199[/cite], there is no reason why Symplectic need ever bother me with such questions in the future; it could automatically harvest all the information defined by my ORCID.

As with many steps forward, there are often steps back, following the law of unforeseen consequences. Perhaps “identity theft” is one; how easy could it be to use someone else’s ORCID for example? I think however that ORCID is here to stay, and we should explore both the good and the potentially bad aspects of its increasing deployment.

Gravatar offer a list of verified services similar in concept to ORCID. But ORCID itself is not on that list; http://en.gravatar.com/profiles/edit/#verified-services
In the dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, there is no way of referring to people save by their given numbers. Wikipedia tells us We is considered  as having influenced the later novel 1984 by George Orwell.


This post has been cross-posted in PDF format at Authorea.

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3 Responses to “ORCID identifiers galore!”

  1. Jez says:

    We were just discussing another benefit of ORCIDs today in the context of the Jisc UK Research Data Discovery Service: when harvesting metadata from a wide range of repositories with *ahem* variable metadata quality, having ORCIDs for each record makes it much easier to disambiguate the identities of researchers with similar names. The benefit for the researcher is that their work all gets attributed to them and doesn’t get mixed up with anyone else.

    I believe they’ve thought about the identity theft aspect, because most (if not all) “official” places you need to enter your ORCID, you actually do it by authenticating (via OAuth maybe?) instead of just typing in your 16 digits.

  2. Henry Rzepa says:

    I have noticed in another post, to which I replied to a comment, that my reply automatically included my ORCID as well. My email addressed registered with ORCID matched the email address I gave in my reply, and hence the system has presumably verified my identity by including my identifier.

    One of the more interesting aspects of a blog is that not only can the blogger hide their personal identity, but people who comment on posts can do likewise. In order to give such comments a further layer of scientific trustworthiness, one might in the future mandate an ORCID to allow comments to be opened up.

  3. Good news Henry, Imperial are now running a version of Symplectic Elements that will automatically claim a publication as your own if both of the following statements are true:
    – you’ve tethered your Elements account with your ORCID
    – Elements finds either a DOI, PubMedID or SCOPUS ID associated with your ORCID

    What’s not so easy to automate (using just your ORCID) is the linking of your outputs to Imperial’s HPC centre, but if it also had a persistent identifier, then that would certainly be possible in the future.

    Ultimately, our aim at Symplectic is to eliminate the need for researchers to
    manually ‘claim’ and ‘link’ outputs but until persistent identifiers become universally adopted by researchers, funders, institutions and facility managers, then we’ll still need to fall back to manual linking.

    In the meantime, we very much hope growing levels of ORCID adoption will reduce the number of email notifications being sent by Elements at both Imperial and elsewhere.

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