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What’s in a name?

For indexers of scientific and scholarly literature, and the researchers who depend on them to have their work properly presented and credited in the marketplace of ideas, the answer can sometimes be, "a tangled nightmare."

The scenarios for confusion and ambiguity abound: multiple authors who happen to share the same name; those who’ve changed or combined their last names after marriage; those whose names contain accents or other special characters that might confound a literature search; or those simply unlucky enough to have their names misspelled by a journal or other party in the course of publication.

Of course, these matters constitute much more than an inconvenience. When the hard-earned fruits of scientific and scholarly work are not properly attributed to the correct individual, the deserved credit can be misplaced, and careers can suffer.

In 2008, Thomson Reuters took the lead in addressing these issues by initiating ResearcherID. In this free community, authors are assigned a unique identifier that unambiguously ties them to their published work, projecting a consistent presence and point of access for complete information about their research output and its impact.

Extending this impetus for disambiguation and connectivity even farther, Thomson Reuters served as a founding member for another initiative, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) project. ORCID provides its own unique identifier to clearly mark individual researchers throughout the various phases of their workflow and to simplify access for others interested in their work.

The power and utility of both these systems have been magnified, as ORCID and ResearcherID are now fully integrated and complementary, joined with the comprehensive depth of the Web of Science.™

Deeper Connection

As Laurel Haak, ORCID’s executive director, explained in a recent Thomson Reuters webcast, ORCID provides a registry where researchers may obtain a a “persistent digital identifier” that is attached to each researcher name, distinguishing researchers from one another. “You can  think about the ORCID iD as a digital name that a researcher uses alongside his or her name in their research activities. The iD is portable and individuals may use it throughout their careers,” she said.

As Haak noted, ORCID enables the assertion of relationships between individuals and the institutions to which they’re affiliated—or, in the case of publishers, between individuals and publications. Researchers can provide electronic access to these documented relationships when they come to a university for a job, or to a journal to submit a paper, or to a funding agency to apply for a grant. The information can be used, for example, to auto-populate forms, so that researchers spend less time filling out forms with the same information they’ve already filled in elsewhere.

"In addition to providing an identifier," said Haak, "ORCID is providing what we call ‘interoperable plumbing’—the tools to build trust in digital information, reduce reporting burdens, and also improve online discoverability."

Alberto Accomazzi, project manager, NASA Astrophysics Data System, supported this point in a video titled ORCID Around the World: "I’m interested in using ORCID for interoperability, so we can exchange bibliographic metadata and uniquely identify authors amongst different information providers."

Digesting and Unifying Metadata

While powerful resources in themselves, ORCID and ResearcherID provide even more functionality and convenience in combination. The latest release of ResearcherID is expressly designed to enable  researchers to seamlessly share data between their ResearcherID profiles and their  ORCID records.

This integration and complementarity make it essential for scholarly authors and researchers to join both the ResearcherID and ORCID communities. ORCID is a platform-neutral identifier. ResearcherID, meanwhile, is specific to Thomson Reuters, thereby affording access to citation metrics found within the Web of Science.

Once an ORCID account has been linked with ResearcherID, users can bi-directionally exchange data, including publications as well as selected fields of biographical information, between the two systems, automatically updating the information in the respective environments.

When publication data are exported from ORCID, ResearcherID will check for duplicates and add Web of Science "times cited" data for overlapping records. Via a regular monthly feed of data from ORCID to the Web of Science, metadata associated with ORCID records, even if it did not originate in the Web of Science platform, will also become part of the metadata associated with a Web of Science record. Thus, Web of Science is becoming increasingly searchable via ORCID identifiers.

“All the individual has to do is include their iD when they submit a manuscript, and when the paper is accepted and published, their ORCID record will be updated,” said Haak. “Why is that interesting? Because researchers can connect their ORCID record to a number of other systems, including the Faculty Profiles repository system, and as the ORCID record is updated so are the connected systems.”

As Haak observes, the key is the collaboration between ORCID and organizations including Thomson Reuters. "These are things that one could not do without the other."

Haak was also quick to note that registering with ORCID, as with ResearcherID, is fast, easy—and free. "A researcher need only register for an ID and then use it when publishing, forming a new affiliation, and so on," she said. "It’s a very, very low burden on the researcher to get a lot of benefit from it."

In a day and age when the stakes to publish are so high, it’s extremely important that researchers have a comprehensive view of their publications. These are the researcher’s intellectual capital and are linked to career advancement, salary grade, tenure and much more. Now, more than ever, it’s essential that researchers seamlessly connect and update their ORCID and ResearcherIDs data via the Web of Science.

Learn more and register by visiting ResearcherID (where an ORCID registration form is also available) and ORCID.