Written by Andy Mabbett
If you read a scientific paper or other work by Janet Jones, how do you know whether that’s the Janet Jones whose reputation you trust, or a namesake you don’t, or one you’ve never heard of? How can librarians associate and catalogue works by the same person, published under variant names like “J Jones”, “Jan Jones”, “J R Jones”, “Dr J Jones” and later “Professor J Jones” – indeed, how do they tell whether or not they are by the same person? What happens if they become Janet Smith-Jones upon marriage, or take a completely different name, say on changing religion, or on a whim? What if the paper is by someone whose name is in a different script (Chinese, say, or Urdu) and transliterated into English differently, in multiple publications? Or, like mine, often simply misspelled?
These issues have been problematic for authors, editors, publishers, reviewers, archivists, and funders for some time, and the answer is ORCID: the Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier. ORCID is a non-profit, transparent, community-based effort to give all research activity a unique identifier. Think of an ORCID identifier as being like an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or DOI (Digital Object Identifiers), but for a person. By including their ORCID identifier (iD) in their by-lines in journals and online, content creators can assert their identity as an author or other contributor.
It isn’t just for researchers and writers
Film producers, illustrators, photographers, composers and choreographers – people working in a variety of disciplines and across national boundaries can use ORCID to their advantage. The scheme is intended to be inclusive, not exclusive. For example, ORCID is currently working in conjunction with F1000 Research and CASRAI to develop the use of ORCID in peer reviews, so that reviewers too are given credit for their contributions.
We’re embedding it in our publishing processes
The Royal Society of Chemistry has been a member organisation of ORCID for some time, as it contributes to our aim to enable the proper dissemination of chemical information, as well as helping to make sure that our authors get the recognition they deserve, in order to build their careers. We’re not alone. From other major publishers like Nature, to universities and consortia organisations such as JISC, ORCID is being talked about increasingly often, in every corner of academia and research, as an enabler of fair credit and open accountability in publishing.
We already invite authors to provide their ORCID identifier when they sign up to our journal submissions system, ScholarOne, which also prompts them to sign up if they don’t already have one. We’ve started to use ORCID iDs on our website (here, for example), and include them in the metadata we publish about articles online and send to services such as CrossMark. In future, we could also include them in the articles themselves.
Caroline Burley, Journals Operations Manager has already seen the advantages that ORCID is bringing to the organisation, “We’ve been encouraging authors to include ORCIDs in their submissions since 2014, and are seeing an increasing number of authors doing so as they become aware of the advantages it brings and the potential to help them and their institutes to more easily manage and track research outputs and funding applications”.
1.8 million iDs and counting
ORCID works with researchers to look for opportunities to integrate ORCID iD into existing processes, such as manuscript submission and grant applications. Their board includes publishers, academics and other interested parties, with non-profit organisations in the majority. The data is available (subject to individual users’ privacy settings) openly, via an API.
So far, over 1.8 million ORCID iDs have been registered and many publishers, academic institutions and funding bodies are including them in their personnel, publishing or outcome-recording systems. Recently a group of 16 publishers has begun to require corresponding authors to provide ORCID iDs. The Royal Society of Chemistry is not currently among this group and does not mandate ORCID iDs at the moment, but we strongly encourage authors to include them. A few publishers are also beginning to incorporate ORCID iDs into their peer review workflows, so that reviewers can link their peer review activities to their ORCID records along with their other scholarly contributions. In terms of wider adoption, research funders and institutions also have a big part to play in encouraging ORCID adoption, and this is also starting to happen. A number of funding bodies, like the Wellcome Trust and the NIHR, also require ORCID iDs as part of the grant application process, and using an ORCID iD provides authors with a straightforward way to show they have fulfilled any open access requirements. The British Library is also including them in its index of doctoral theses, EThOS – an easy way for early-career researchers and academics to ensure their work is more readily findable.
ORCID could benefit your library users
If your academic community is involved in our publishing activities, as authors, reviewers, editors or suchlike, they should obtain an ORCID iD, free, at https://orcid.org/register. They should also register if they’ve published elsewhere, whether or not it was related to chemistry. They can then use their ORCID record to maintain a list of their publications.
Import is available from some publication and indexing systems (for example Scopus) to make it easier to include existing works. Users can also include links to their own website, professional profile or social media presence. Use the iD in any works you publish, in your email signature, on business stationery, and in any online profiles, such as LinkedIn.