Otto Muskens Otto Muskens 19 February 2012

Every scientist should have a Researcher ID

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Posted in Tips, useful software, Web 2.0

Unique author identification is a longstanding issue in scientific publishing. Currently there are a number of systems under development that promise a variety of functionalities. I am not going to give here an extensive overview of this wide range of systems, an up to date article can be found here. While a universally recognized standard such as the ISO standard International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) system will undoubtedly be useful as a way to categorize any type of authors, artists and scientists, the practical use of an author identifier will be strongly related to the availability of linked information such as lists of publications.

Writing from my own experience I would like to discuss a particular unique author identification system which has developed into a fully functional tool: ResearcherID. The ResearcherID system has been developed by Thomson Reuters as a feature to their Web of Knowledge database. Although it can be argued that the commercial nature of this database limits its use as a standard, the system has a very clear advantage for scientific research and assessment as the resulting profile is made available in the public domain. Since summer 2011, ResearcherID has achieved arguably the most important functionality of an author identification system, namely full integration with a complete database of publications and citation metrics.

The information obtained from Web of Science can be assembled by a researcher who makes a ResearcherID profile. A limiting factor here is the requirement of access to the services of Thomson Reuters, although it is possible to upload a RIS-formatted file. Most importantly, it is possible to link your ID to all your papers including those with variations in last name and/or initials. Information assembled by the researcher can be accessed through a personal profile webpage which includes an up-to-date publication record synchronized weekly with Web of Science, and a graphical representation of citations per year and h-index. This information is now publicly available, i.e. does not require a subscription to Thomson Reuters services. Here is an example of my own ResearcherID page. Authors sharing the same name, such as James Smith, can be easily distinguished once they have registered their own unique details. These ResearcherID profiles are fed back into Web of Science where they are available as Distinct Author Sets.

So why are not all scientists yet on ResearcherID? Perhaps relatively few scientists are aware of this option, or maybe some are not inclined to cooperate with a commercial company or do not have access to the database. For people with a commonly occurring or otherwise ambiguous name, ResearcherID is probably the best way at the moment for disambiguation of their publication record in one of the major databases. As ResearcherID is now as complete as Web of Science, it can be used for job interviews or grant applications. In my opinion every scientist should get their ResearcherID as soon as possible.

More information about ResearcherID and how it links to other unique author systems can be found here. Other unique author identifier systems which are being developed are the Scopus Author Identifier and the public domain ORCID. I would be interested to hear about other experiences with these systems and what you believe will be the best option in the long run.

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  1. Ad Lagendijk

    19 Feb 2012 21:54, Ad Lagendijk

    great and thanks. I learned a lot from it. I will get my ResearcherID soon.

    If some authentification mechanism could be introduced this would also allow journal websites to discriminate between bona-fide reactions and bogus. For instance by only allowing reactions from people having more than 10 citations (excluding self-citations), checked through their ResearcherID.

    I have never had any trust in all those companies teaming up for the OpenID and not in Microsoft with its Live ID.

    Of course it is all commerical, but the ISI has indeed by far the best database. Scopus is from Elsevier and at present the scientific community is at war with Esevier.

  2. Unregistered

    14 Mar 2012 19:19, Farhad

    Many thanks Otto,
    I liked it and I will.
    Actually I have to decide about my name in the paper (which is dual syllabic). For those who have dual-syllabic name, it is quite important to select a fixed name for publication, otherwise they may have some troubles with this service.

  3. Otto Muskens

    25 Oct 2012 16:48, Otto Muskens

    Orcid seems to have rolled out its registration service for researchers, see here. It is also linked to ResearcherID.

  4. Unregistered

    27 Mar 2013 11:55, Rafael Ramirez Morales

    ResearchID and ORCID are working towards greater integration. Another step in the right direction to resolving the long standing problem of author ambiguity, name misspellings and homonyms.

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