Roses are red, violets are blue, ORCIDs are non-proprietary alphanumeric codes that uniquely identify scientific or academic authors and contributors. Humor aside, the issue of identification for the scientific and academic community has been quite problematic for some time.
Prior to 2012, an author’s personal identification on their contributions to scientific or academic research papers was subject to the vagaries of: popular names, name changes (through marriage for example), nicknames and abbreviations, cultural differences in name order (in Japan the surname is listed before the first name, for example) and different written languages (Chinese characters, for example). Not only does this make the acknowledgement of an author’s contribution inconsistent, but for the research community, it makes the access to the source/s of the data difficult. How can you cross reference a body of work or ask questions of the author/s if you aren’t sure who was actually involved?
ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) was set up to register scientists, academics, publishers, funders, researchers, research and associated professional bodies for this reason. By generating a unique code for each member, the body of work as well as a contact network for research and academic authors could be established. It was intended that this non-profit, global organization would become the standard means of identification for the scientific and academic publishing community.
And there is growing impetus for this becoming a reality. In just three years, ORCID had registered 1.5 million researchers globally. As more publishers, funders, HEIs and researcher information platforms request an ORCID code in their workflows, the need for researchers and academics to register becomes more apparent.
ORCID IDs serve a secondary purpose too, they enable funding bodies and grant holders (who may have funding from multiple sources) to keep track of the grant. It also reduces the laborious and complicated admin involved in applying for a grant. ORCID isn’t only a smart and efficient system, it’s a laudable one too, enabling the funding body to keep better track of exactly what research or academic papers were created with the finance and see how the funding has directly supported the careers of the authors.
As Jonathon Kram of Wellcome notes, this latter point is significant. Before ORCID, observing the career path of an individual would have involved: “Resource-intense efforts to even get a hold of the requisite data, encountering barriers as soon as any of our data collection systems try to talk to one another about individuals.” With an ORCID ID however, an individual’s achievements – and potential – are laid bare; the ability to discuss and understand specific data with those who created it is now possible and the opportunity to network and set up research collaborations with leaders in the field is huge. ORCID is, in short, helping academic and scientific publishing to bloom.
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