Registering researchers in authority files

Last month we launched a new task group of OCLC Research Library Partner staff and others who are involved in uniquely identifying authors and researchers that can be shared in a linked data environment.

We were spurred by institutions’ need to uniquely identify all their researchers to measure their scholarly output, a factor in reputation and ranking. Yet national authority files cover researchers only partially. They do not include authors that write only journal articles, or researchers who don’t publish but create or contribute to data sets and other research activities.

We see a number of activities in this “name space” with potential overlap, including: the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), Open Researchers & Contributor ID (ORCID), the Dutch Digital Author Identifier system (DAI), The Names Project in the UK, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging’s NACO program, researcher profile systems such as VIVO, and Current Research Information Systems (CRIS).

The Registering Researchers in Authority Files Task Group will document the benefits of researcher identification; significant challenges; trade-offs among the current approaches; and mechanisms for linking approaches and data. We are starting with use case scenarios, for example:

  • Researchers who want to identify others in their field
  • Institutions that need to collate the intellectual output of their researchers
  • Funders who want to track the outputs for awarded grants
  • Services providing persistent identifiers for researchers that need to disambiguate names.and ensure correct attributions.

We are hoping that our report will help address all of the above needs, and suggest approaches for linking data from different sources in a coherent way. Details on this activity and the task group roster —including experts from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are on our new Registering Researchers in Authority Files activity page on the OCLC Research website.

If there are systems or “name authority hubs” you want to make sure we look at, please let us know with a comment below.