ORCID: giving new meaning to “open” research

At the beginning of peer review week, Natasha Simons writes on ORCID – an essential tool throughout academia now.

Contact: Twitter @n_simons

Have you ever tried to search for the works of a particular author and found that there are literally hundreds of authors with the same name? Or found that your name has been misspelt on a publication or that it is plain wrong because you changed your name when you got married (or divorced) a few years back? Well, you are not alone. Did you know that the top 100 surnames in China account for 84.77% of the population or that 70% of Medline names are not unique? So receiving credit where credit is due is badly needed by researchers the world over and in solving this problem, we can also improve the discoverability of their research. But to solve a global problem, we need a global solution. Enter ORCID – the Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier.

orcid_128x128ORCID provides individual researchers and scholars with a persistent unique identifier which links a researcher with their works and professional activities – ensuring the work is recognised and discoverable. Sure, there are many other researcher identifiers out there but ORCID has the ability to reach across disciplines, research sectors, and national boundaries. ORCID distinguishes an individual researcher in a similar way to how a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) uniquely identifies a scholarly publication. It lasts for a lifetime and remains the same whether you move institutions, countries or (heaven forbid) change disciplines. If you’ve not seen one before, check out the ORCID for Nobel Prize laureate and Australian of the Year Peter C. Doherty.

ORCID works as a solution to name ambiguity because it is:

  • Widely used;
  • Embedded in the workflows of submission systems for publishers, funders and institutions;
  • The product of a global, collaborative effort;
  • Open, non-profit and researcher-driven.

There are over 300 ORCID members (organisations or groups of organisations) from every section of the international research community. Over 1.5 million ORCID identifiers for individual researchers have been issued since its launch in October 2012. In Australia, the key role of ORCID has been recognised in two Joint Statements and – as is the case in many other countries – plans for an ORCID Consortium are well underway.

From its very beginning, ORCID has embraced “open” – it is free for researchers to sign up, open to any interested organisation to join, releases software under an Open Source Software license, and provides a free public API. Institutions who wish to embed ORCID into their workflows are advised to join ORCID and this membership fee (for service) in turn supports ORCID to continue to function as a non-profit entity.

A key activity of ORCID at the moment is completing the metadata round trip. It sure doesn’t sound exciting but it is actually. Really! It works like this: when a researcher submits an article to a publisher, a dataset to a data centre, or a grant to a funder, they include their ORCID iD. When the work is published and the DOI assigned, information about the work is automatically connected to the researcher’s ORCID record. Other systems can query the ORCID registry and draw in that information. This will save researchers a lot of time currently spent updating multiple data systems, and ensures correct credit and discoverability of their research. See? Exciting, huh!

Another great thing ORCID is doing is Peer Review Week (28 September – 2 October), which grew out of informal conversations between ORCID, Sense about Science, ScienceOpen, and Wiley. The week highlights a collaborative effort in finding ways to build trust in peer review by making the process more transparent and giving credit for the peer review activity. ORCID have also been collaborating with Mozilla Science Lab, BioMed Central, Public Library of Science, The Wellcome Trust, and Digital Science, among others, to develop a prototype for assigning badges to individuals based on the contributor role vocabulary developed by Project CRediT earlier this year.

It’s great news that this year and for the first time ever, ORCID are officially joining the Open Access Week celebrations. OA Week runs from October 19-26 and their goal is to sign up 10,000 new ORCID registrants and increase the number of connections between ORCID iDs and organisation iDs. They hope you can help! So go on, why not go sign up for an ORCID iD now? You’ll be helping to ensure your scholarly work is discoverable, correctly attributed to you, and you’ll save time in the bargain.

About the author

Natasha Simons is a Research Data Management Specialist with the Australian National Data Service

3 thoughts on “ORCID: giving new meaning to “open” research

Comments are closed.