ORCID – An idea whose time has come?

28 May 2015

Information Power and Research Consulting recently completed a review of the Jisc-ARMA ORCID pilots, where 8 UK universities implemented the ORCID unique researcher identifier in their systems.

The final report and an implementation checklist for institutions can now be found here. These show that momentum behind ORCID is now building rapidly, both in the UK and across the world, and that it can be incorporated into institutional systems at minimal cost.

So what is ORCID, and why does it matter? Essentially, it is a unique persistent digital identifier for researchers, that distinguishes them from other researchers. Anyone with a common name (or even a not-so-common name) should be able to see the benefit of this – it means you can immediately tell what articles, outputs, grants etc relate to a particular individual.

ORCID can also act as the ‘glue’ between different systems and datasets, streamlining processes such as grant applications and manuscript submissions for researchers, and helping institutions and funders get better visibility over their research activity. It brings the holy grail of ‘enter data once, use it many times’ a step nearer, with the potential to make activities like grant outcomes reporting, open access publishing and research evaluation processes much easier to administer.
These benefits will take time to realise, but there are already 1.3 million researchers with ORCID iDs so things are moving fast. As the report outlines, the rate of adoption is likely to accelerate further as a result of new funder mandates, and as publishers and software suppliers increasingly support ORCID. The not-for-profit organisation which runs ORCID has also been boosted by the recent award of a $3m grant to build international engagement.
From a personal perspective, ORCID is a great idea whose time has definitely come.  If you’re working in research I would urge you to embrace it, either by getting your own ORCID iD (it takes no more than 3 minutes!) or encouraging your institution to sign up for membership. The checklist developed as a result of the Jisc-ARMA pilots will tell you how, and UK institutions will soon be able to benefit from a new consortium membership operated by Jisc.

PS yes I do have an ORCID iD myself – http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7126-2954 – though like a lot of ORCID iD holders I still have a bit of work to do on my profile…