I’ve been following the Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID) initiative since its announcement late last year, but the collaborators have been quietly hammering out the details behind the scenes. As of this week, they’ve just released a PDF with a lot more information, including some ideas on how the implementation will work, such as potential manuscript submission interfaces, metadata importation, and mock-ups of interfaces for authors to input publications, affiliations, and contact information.

It appears that ORCID has come a long way since their initial announcement. They now have over 90 participating organizations (is your organization involved yet?), up from an initial 23, including big name publishers like Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, PLoS, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and many large research universities, including Harvard and Cornell. Now that the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) has firmly taken root in scientific publishing, a clear-cut author identification program like ORCID should be widely implemented easily, especially with substantial backing from Nature Publishing Group. A 2009 Nature editorial discusses some of the potential applications of ORCID, such as allowing researchers to create an ongoing digital curriculum vitae, or to receive credit for work which isn’t part of a high-profile publication but still has a major contribution to a body of scientific knowledge.

There are still many kinks to be ironed out—the latest announcement notes that “privacy and access rights as well as funding issues are being tackled.” They also indicate that “ORCID may be linked to other registries, such as the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) a draft international standard for tracking creators, actors, artists and performers,” but it bodes well that they’re taking all of these factors into account. With all of the Professor Zhangs and Dr. Wilsons floating around publishing prolifically, a standard name identification scheme like ORCID is overdue and poised for success.

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