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Distinguishing researchers with an ORCID

15 Feb, 2013

ORCID logoI’m an author on five science papers, see if you can find them. I’ll give you a head start: here’s a link to all the researchers called B Thompson (and variations thereof) that I could find in Pubmed.

Any luck? Of the 1775 (and rising) results, you can discount many (I wasn’t doing research in the 1930’s), but without knowing my area of expertise or affiliated university you could spend all day looking. To make matters more difficult, my papers are spread over several years.

I’ll show you the answer. Here are my papers collated on my ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) profile, a free, not-for-profit service to help researchers distinguish their work from others with similar names, and help funders link researcher output to funding.

Ben's Orcid

In addition to helping to distinguish one B Thompson from another, ORCID will ultimately help to speed up one of the major time-sinks that preventing scientists from getting on with their experiments: paperwork.

Every grant applied for, every manuscript submitted to a journal, every internal report compiled takes time to complete. Much of the information needed – employment history, publication record and the like – is easy for a researcher to collate, but time consuming (and tedious) to fill in.

This is where the ORCID comes in. A number of major publishers and funders including Nature Publishing Group, F1000,Elsevier the Wellcome Trust and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are integrating the ORCID into their workflow, so that data can be ‘pulled’ and ‘pushed’ between systems to speed up the paper/grant submission process.

ORCID isn’t just to help researchers fill in their forms more efficiently; it’s also designed to help funders track researcher’s progress and whether our grants are producing high quality science. ORCID will help us link the researchers we support to the things they’ve produced and remove name ambiguity, which can make the selection of peer reviewers and experts difficult.

So far, over 60,000 individuals have signed up for ORCID, which has been recommended as the research identifier solution by JISC, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Research Councils UK and the Association of Research Managers and Administrators. Privacy is important of course so, like your Facebook profile, you can tailor your ORCID to display as much information as you’d like. Initially the information that you can add will be restricted to your academic institution and publications, but as more organisations and databases integrate with ORCID, you’ll be able add grants, patents and datasets as well.

You can sign up for an ORCID here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine Watkins permalink
    15 Feb, 2013 10:21 am

    Hmm, sounds efficient. I’d like to see a similar system in place for science-art engagement projects as it is often surprisingly hard to track who has done what.

  2. philliplord permalink
    18 Feb, 2013 4:56 pm

    I could also do this with Google Scholar. Or Microsoft academic research. Or Research Gate. Or Facebook. Or the university system that does this for me. Or my publications web page.

    I’m struggling to understand why yet another social network is a good thing or another place to organise another list of my references.

    • 21 Feb, 2013 10:01 am

      Hi Phillip, thanks for your comment.

      ORCID isn’t a social network – it’s not really linking you to anything other than your own data or places that your trust. I do see it as a way of saving time – both for researchers and funders. Certainly you can collate your references on your lab page and cut/paste them into a grant application or annual report, but what if there’s a quicker way? Also, wouldn’t it be great if there was a standardised, open (free) way for all researchers across the world?

      ORCID ids are already being used during the journal submission process (see NPG) and over time, as more places integrate ORCID into their workflow, your ORCID id will become a piece of the metadata associated with a grant award or published paper. The more this happens the more it becomes possible to have profiles update automatically. This doesn’t happen, as far as I’m aware, with the other systems.

    • 25 Feb, 2013 12:25 pm

      Phil, you couldn’t use any of those identity mechanisms for submitting grant proposals either, which I believe is where ORCID is headed

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