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ORCID and Other Unique Author Identifiers: What is a Unique Author Identifier?

Explains what a unique author identifier is, cites examples of unique author identifier systems in current use, and provides links to unique author identifier and related resources.


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Authority Control in the CSHL Institutional Repository

The CSHL Institutional Repository contains an ontology of the full names (authority names) of CSHL authors. This ontology was created to eliminate the name duplications that occur when only an author’s family name and first initial(s) are used in publications. Each name in the CSHL authority name ontology is linked to the publications created by that author. The CSHL Institutional Repository contains publication records back to the founding of CSHL.

What is a Unique Author Identifier?

Because multiple researchers in the same or different fields may have the same first and last names, there is an author ambiguity problem within the scholarly research community. To circumvent this problem, the idea has been raised of assigning each researcher a "unique author identifier."

The idea of a centrally administered system to unambiguously identify authors of scientific papers has been around since the 1940s, but has received renewed attention with the growth of online journals, databases, and publication archives (see Cave, R., Unique Author Identification, The official PLoS blog, Posted: ). The benefits of such a system include:

From an administrative standpoint:

  • Less ambiguity as to who has published a certain paper when different variations of an author’s name have been used
  • Ability to accurately measure citations of individual papers or authors
  • Easier evaluation of an author’s productivity and impact in his/her field

From an IT standpoint:

  • Simplified data handling and storage; author identification only has to be stored in one place
  • Richer cross-referencing possible, e.g., search engines, browsers, and other applications can create links between an author’s biographical information and his/her published works
  • Opportunity to create new networks of data, e.g., academic genealogies

The most recognized systems for administering unique author identifiers is ORCID (Open Researcher & Contributor ID), an initiative that aims to create a central registry of unique author identifiers, including a mechanism to link between different author ID schemes, such as ResearcherID.


ORCID Identifiers: Linking people to their research