Digital Researcher

Every Botanist Needs an ORCID

If you're hoping to have any career in research, an ORCID can help you identify that you are the person named on your published articles.

You might have seen ORCIDs appearing in journals. There should be one by the name of a few of the AoB bloggers. Not everyone has one though, so are these the Next Big Thing or the academic equivalent of MySpace?

Angela Waye / 123rf
Angela Waye / 123rf

Irene Hames introduced me to ORCID at a recent AoB editorial meeting. ORCID is the answer to a growing problem, who is it that you’re talking to?

Is John Smith at Anytown University the same person as John A Smith at Anytown University? Is he the same person as John Smith who was at Othertown University a few years ago? If you change your name, can you connect the two together?

ORCID is an identifier for researchers. While the name and location might change the sixteen digit code is constant. As well as saying who I am now, it can also connect to the future. This is handy for Grad students. It’s common to publish papers while at one institution and then move to another. It’s also common to find that your earlier email evaporates when you leave. Just as DOIs should prevent papers from being lost when a journal moves publisher, so too an ORCID should mean researchers can be tracked. An ORCID on a paper means that even in an email address doesn’t work, it should be possible to look up a researchers current email address.

That means it also works as a defence against identity theft.

Some journals ask for suggested reviewers for a paper. I could target one of these and suggest using someone like Pat Heslop-Harrison to review my paper. Then I supply an email address phh@NotAFakeAddress.com, then use my access to that account to review my paper “A Venus Fly Trap Can Bite Off Your Finger”. When it gets mocked after publication, Pat’s reputation gets tarnished as the reviewer who passed it. However, if he has his ORCID 0000-0002-3105-2167 on an institutional page then it becomes easier to see he uses a different email address. A quick email to that address would clear up whether he was the same person who reviewed my paper.

Signing up for an ORCID is simple. You register for an ORCID with this form, then you get your ID.

If you have more time you can start associating papers you’ve already written with your ORCID, but otherwise that’s all you need. I suppose someone else could just as simply try signing up for an ORCID in your name, but if your ORCID is the one on the institutional pages, and on the papers you write, it’s obvious who the real you is.

There’s no social element to ORCID, no stream of emails in the inbox saying what you’ve missed while you’ve been away. It’s just the bare minimum of fuss needed to make sure it works, which is very little indeed.

The sooner you get one, the sooner it can start working for you, and it seems useful for people at any stage of their career. You can read more at http://orcid.org/.

About the author

Alun Salt

When he's not the web developer for AoB Blog, Alun Salt researches something that could be mistaken for the archaeology of science. His current research is about whether there's such a thing as scientific heritage and if there is how would you recognise it?