Researching the Use of ORCID

Do you have a common name that makes it difficult for others to pinpoint which research is yours? You’ve probably heard about ORCID, the not-for-profit organization that established the ORCID identifier. With an ORCID ID, it’s easy to ensure that your work is always properly recognized.

At Springer Nature we ran an ORCID mandate trial with much success, which mandated that authors use ORCID IDs when publishing in 46 journals across our portfolio. We’ve decided to keep those requirements, and plan to further expand the requirement. 

Learn more about the background of ORCID in this excerpt from Tracking researchers and their outputs: new insights from ORCIDs by Jan Youtie, Stephen Carley, Alan L. Porter, and Philip Shapira from Scientometrics. The full article can be read via the SharedIt link.

The existing literature on ORCID is oriented toward explaining the author identification problem, proposing ORCID as a possible solution, and describing how ORCID works. Many of the early articles are published by ORCID organizers. In 2011, an article published in Information Standards Quarterly by a member of ORCID’s board of directors and chair of its outreach group discussed the problem of author identification as stemming from fragmentation across multiple unconnected systems, including national level systems (such as Brazil’s LATTES), field-level systems, and systems maintained by funding organizations (Fenner 2011).

ORCID is designed to extend beyond these boundaries through its open source design, but it requires coordination and management involving a large number of stakeholder organizations, consent of the scholar, trust in the system, and continuity for the length of time required to make the system work. Also in 2011, Fenner and colleagues published an article in Serials with other European members of the ORCID outreach group. The article described the history of ORCID, the initial size of its organizational membership as of 2010, its initial software platform based on the then-Thomson Reuters ResearcherID software, and its plans to accept individual scholar registrations in 2012. The cross-disciplinary and cross-national nature of ORCID are among the benefits mentioned, but the authors state that the value of ORCID would ultimately depend on attracting a ‘‘critical number’’ of users, including users claiming works at the time of manuscript submission, users with the ability to integrate their ORCID profile with other author identifying applications, and users actively identifying previously published works (Fenner et al. 2011).

Laurel Haak, the Executive Director of ORCID, published an article with board members of the organization in Learned Publishing on the use case of ORCID for publishers (Haak et al. 2012a). The use case encompasses certification of authors, finding reviewers, tracking citations, and integration with paper repositories such as Crossref. Another article published in 2012 in Science discussed standardization issues and efforts to address these in integrating ORCID with other publication databases (Haak et al. 2012b). Subsequent articles (Anstey 2014; Thomas et al. 2015; Meadows 2016) relate to the use of ORCID in automatically importing author information from multiple sources for medical researchers and facilitating the provision of library services in university and college settings. Butler (2012) offers, perhaps, the clearest justification for the need for ORCID by highlighting the rise of articles by Chinese (and Korean) authors and the difficulty of linking an article to common surnames such as Wang, with ‘‘Y. Wang’’ being the most common combination of first initial and last name at the time the article was written.

Not all reviews of identifier-based author disambiguation are universally supportive, however. Rosenkrantz de Lasson (2015) notes that ORCID (and other researcher identifier applications) require detailed active claiming of articles published prior to ORCID registration, which involves investing time into adding publications and keeping the list complete. In contrast, the author claims that Google Scholar automatically updates one’s publication list without requiring an extensive time commitment (although our experience is that sometimes an author has to manually check, add or remove publications even in Google Scholar). A study at Texas A&M reported that the university prearranged for ORCID iDs for more than 10,000 graduate students, but only one-fifth of them actively claimed their identifiers, suggesting that more is needed besides obtaining organizational participation and technically making these identifiers available (Clement 2014).

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