At recent meetings I attended in Washington D.C. there was significant hallway discussion about the Open Researcher Contributor Identification (ORCID) initiative. Given the science orientation of the meetings this initiative to resolve the problem of name ambiguity and attribution in scholarly publication was particularly welcomed. As you’ll see if you visit the ORCID site this is early days for this pre-competitive multi-publisher effort whose goal is to establish
“an open, independent registry that is adopted and embraced as the industry’s de facto standard.” Their mission is “to resolve the systemic name ambiguity, by means of assigning unique identifiers linkable to an individual’s research output, to enhance the scientific discovery process and improve the efficiency of funding and collaboration.”
Meeting one was convened by Thomson Reuters and Nature Publishing not long ago with the first meeting in November 2009. The roster of participants is impressive and the continued involvement of Elsevier made those with whom I talked hopeful that this would be as successful an effort as CrossRef has been. A recent editorial in Nature Credit where credit is due (pdf) is quite to the point about the implications of success.
My colleagues, Thom Hickey and Janifer Gatenby, have been involved. OCLC has much to contribute here given Thom’s leadership of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) effort and Janifer’s in the development of the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI). The scope of ORCID is narrower than ISNI as the latter is intended for the identification of “identities used publicly by parties involved throughout the media content industries in the creation, production, management, and content distribution chains.” This goes across all fields of creative activity not just science. As Janifer said,
“ISNI could become a cross domain identifier so that a researcher who also plays in a rock band (and wants it known that he is one and the same) can be identified.”
Obviously there isn’t going to be just one name identifier but if there are only a few and they aspire to comprehensiveness then mapping and cross-domain identification can happen. This will advance enormously the ability to discover, manage, and aggregate researcher/creative outputs. My colleagues, John MacColl and Ricky Erway, are working to scope the challenge and opportunities for research libraries in managing the research information of their home institutions. They’ve spotlighted standard name identification as one of the biggest missing pieces. With ISNI, VIAF and now ORCID there is real promise that this gap will be filled.
So about the taxman, swineherd title – It comes from a lattice of coincidence moment that occurred as I was preparing this post. I thought Janifer’s researcher and rock band comment was a little farfetched but then closed the book I was reading only to see this author blurb:
Ian Rankin has written seventeen other novels, and has also worked as a grapepicker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, music journalist, and punk rock musician. He lives in Edinburgh…etc.