ORCID – Unique Author Identifier

ORCID – Unique Author Identifier

Author: Alice Meadows, Vera Koester

Alice Meadows is Director of Communications for ORCID. Here she talks to Vera Koester for ChemViews Magazine about ORCID iDs, their value for researchers and organizations, and future activities.


Can you please say what ORCID is?

ORCID is an open, nonprofit, community-driven organization that is solving the name disambiguation problem in scholarly publishing by creating and maintaining a registry of unique researcher identifiers (iDs) and a transparent method of linking these iDs to research activities and outputs. Over 1.6m iDs have been registered since ORCID launched in October 2012.


Why do you think will ORCID become the standard unique author identifier?

Name disambiguation is a known problem in scholarly communication. Many researchers have the same or similar names, their names may change or be listed differently in different systems and publications. ORCID iDs are the only identifiers designed to persist across all scholarly platforms and systems. Other identifiers are either restricted to an individual platform, publisher, institution, etc. (e.g., ResearcherID, SCOPUS identifier) or they are broader in scope. In addition, ORCID is an opt-in system, which puts the researcher/record-holder in complete control of which information will be public or private, what is connected to her/his record, who (if anyone) can write to it, etc.

Many universities, funders, publishers, and other organizations are recommending or requiring their researchers to use their ORCID iD, for example, the Wellcome Trust recently mandated this for all their grant applicants. As more follow suit ORCID will become the default identifier for scholarly and scientific authors.


How do you register for an ORCID iD? What kind of information is stored?

Registering is quick and easy – it only takes about 30 seconds! The basic data stored is simply name and email address, though we recommend adding other information to help researchers distinguish themselves from others with a similar name. Additional (optional) data that can be added to an ORCID record includes information about education, employment, research works (journal articles, books, data, and more), personal websites and social accounts, and more. We do not collect personal information such as date of birth, gender, or phone numbers.


How do I use ORCID to search for other researchers?

ORCID’s primary purpose is to make researchers and their work discoverable on other platforms – it is not a social platform itself. Many researchers include their ORCID iDs on their websites and social accounts, and they are increasingly being included in journal articles and other publications. And many researcher profile systems are integrating ORCID into their offering as a way of helping researchers keep their records up-to-date.


Are there other benefits?

As mentioned above, ORCID iDs are being integrated in many other systems used by researchers – funder systems; HR, research information, and other systems used by universities and other academic institutions; manuscript submission systems; profiling systems; etc. The more widespread ORCID iDs become, the more value they will have for researchers and their organizations alike.

Researchers will benefit from being able to use their iD across multiple systems, irrespective of job moves, name changes, etc., while being confident that their privacy is protected. Universities and other research organizations will be able to more easily keep track of their researchers’ output, reducing the amount of time spent on maintaining up-to-date records. Funders can link researchers to their research and connect them with the funding they provided in order to track its impact. Publishers can improve the efficiency of their manuscript submission systems and improve discoverability of their authors’ works. And scholarly societies will be able to connect their members’ activities across their various systems – membership, conference, and manuscript submissions, reviewing, and more. Lastly everyone – and especially researchers – will benefit from reduced time spent on reporting as ORCID enables increased interoperability and automated updating of information across research information systems.


Who is already using ORCID?

We have over 1.6 million registered users, more than 300 members of whom 145 have active integrations with more in progress, and many more organizations who are using our public application programming interface (API). In recent months, we have signed national consortia deals with Denmark, Italy, and the UK with several more national and other consortia agreements in negotiation, which will be announced in the near-term future. And several funders, including most recently the UK Wellcome Trust, as mentioned above, have mandated ORCID iDs for their grant applicants.

So we expect to see much wider adoption, use, and integration of ORCID across all sectors of the research community in the coming months and years.


How is the project financed?

We are a membership organization, so are primarily dependent on fees from members, including publishers such as Wiley, as well as research institutions, funders, repositories, and others. A number of organizations (including Wiley) also provided start-up funding in the form of loans and we were awarded a $3 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust earlier this year to develop the infrastructure and capacity to support international adoption and technical integration of ORCID iDs.

There’s no charge to register for an ORCID iD.


Can you say something on future plans?

2015 has been an exciting year for ORCID with lots more to come: On the technical side, CrossRef will soon be implementing our auto-update functionality. This will allow to automatically update ORCID records with information about researchers’ articles as they publish. A similar DataCite implementation will follow. The first implementations of our recently announced peer review functionality will also go live shortly, enabling organizations to add information about review activity to a researcher’s record. We are now working on a similar functionality for the Project CRedIT roles. We’re also working on single sign-on/federated log-in functionality. And we will soon be relaunching our website. Information about these and other technical updates can be found on our public Trello board.

As mentioned, we hope to announce several new memberships shortly, including more consortia agreements. Just as importantly, thanks to the Helmsley Trust grant, we are significantly ramping up our outreach and capacity-building activities. We held our first East African workshop in Kenya in July, with several more planned in the next few weeks in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Qatar, and Taiwan. We are also looking at ways of ensuring greater community involvement, for example, by introducing regular town hall meetings (in-person and virtual) in all regions.


What got you interested in this project?

I joined ORCID in May as their Director of Communications, one of several new positions created as a result of the Helmsley Trust grant. This includes managing the ORCID blog, social accounts, ambassador network, events program, and more.

As someone who has worked in scholarly publishing my whole career, I’m passionate about the dissemination of scholarly research, and the need for a robust, efficient, and effective infrastructure to support researchers – ensuring they’re spending more time on research and less on administration. ORCID is already playing a significant role in achieving this goal and, I believe, will become even more important in years to come. I’m thrilled to be playing a part in making that happen.


Anything else?

As a community-driven organization, we really want to hear from researchers and other members of the community. Are you or your organization using ORCID? If so, why and how? Are others in your community using it too? If not, why not? What are your perceptions of ORCID – positive and negative?

To that end, we are currently carrying out a community survey and will be sharing the results in the next couple of months.

I also strongly encourage researchers and others who are contributing to the scholarly literature to register for an ORCID – as mentioned, it’s free and it literally takes 30 seconds!


Thank you very much for the interview.

Alice Meadows started her career at Blackwell, Oxford, UK, as a Journals Marketer. In 2007, on Wiley’s acquisition of Blackwell, Alice was appointed Director of Central Marketing Services, and in 2010 Society Relations Director. In 2013 she became Director of Communications for Global Research, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Boston, USA.

Since June 2015, Alice Meadows is Director of Communications for ORCID, Inc., Bethesda, MD, USA.


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