Why you need an ORCID ID number

If your last name Smith, Wang, Gonzalez, or Agrawal, you know only too well that you are not alone – there are many, many other researchers with whom you share a last name. This makes it a challenge for others to identify the papers you wrote when searching Scopus, the Web of Science, or other bibliographic databases.  “Author disambiguation” is also a huge obstacle for researchers in Scientometrics, which is the science of studying patterns of scientific productivity, collaboration, and knowledge creation. If only there was a way to give every researcher their own unique and permanent identification number — a means of distinguishing you from every other researcher in the world — that could link you to your papers, grant proposals, and other forms of academic output.

Fortunately, there is. Perhaps the most widely adopted is the ORCID ID registry – it’s easy to register and get your ID number, free, and can be linked to other author databases. If you submit a manuscript to Biotropica, and you don’t already have an ORCID ID, we provide a link for you to go over to their site and get one. But why wait?  Go get one now.  Once you do, you can add your papers and grants to it and link to your ORCID profile on your web page.  For example, here is mine, which I have along with my CV on my web page.

There are other options in addition to ORCID, including the excellent Thomson Reuters ResearcherID. I’ve set up one of these as well. These two identifiers are complementary: the ResearcherID is specific to Thomson Reuters, so you can use it to search the Web of Knowledge. Your ORCID ID is “platform agnostic”, and so it is more broadly useful across the entire research landscape. I actually imported my publications into my ORCID profile from my ResearchID profile in about 2 minutes.

There are many, many other benefits to researchers of getting a unique identifier, as well as many intriguing ways to use them. These are really well described in this excellent post on the SWETS blog — it’s one of the best descriptions I’ve read of author identification systems and their benefits.

Photo of Nanday Parakeets by Robert Neff (Fifth World Art)

Photo of Nanday Parakeets by Robert Neff (Fifth World Art)

Bottom line — stand out from the crowd, get credit for your work, make your papers easier to find, and make librarians and editors everywhere happy. Go get an ORCID ID number.