In recent years, the term ‘ORCiD’ has become increasingly common throughout the research publication disciplines. Here, we’ll discuss the purpose, utility, current state, and potential future problems of ORCiD numbers in medical research.
What is ORCiD?
ORCiD, standing for Open Researcher & Contributor ID, is an international cross-disciplinary registry that assigns authors a unique identifying number that can be connected to all of their research publications. ORCiD profiles act as a singular platform that lists all publications associated with a singular researcher, without the cross-posting and mistakes often seen when using names. In other words, an ORCiD is for authors what a DOI is for research articles: a persistent identifier that is associated with only one specific entity, reducing potential confusions or mix-ups. ORCiD is an especially useful tool for maintaining complete publication records for authors with common names, those who chose to use identifiers other than their given and family name (i.e., those who primarily use chosen or middle names), or those who change their name during their research career.
ORCiD numbers result in more comprehensive and accurate research bibliometrics and evaluation of an author’s presence and impact in their field; from a technical standpoint, unique identifying numbers are invaluable for simplifying data handling and cross-reference. From the journal’s perspective, ORCiD is becoming a critical tool for identifying research fraud and prevent problematic authors with a history of research misconduct from submitting their papers.
While ORCiD is most publicly known for associating authors with their published research articles, this identifier can be used across a range of purposes beyond publications. Clinical trial registries, grant funding records, patents, and datasets can also be associated with ORCiDs, creating a singular resource to connect disparate research activities with an individual. Because ORCiD is financially supported by a ~1300 network of member organizations, ORCiD registration is free for authors (even if the author’s institution is not a member organization).
Current State of ORCiD Implementation
ORCiD was not the research community’s first attempt to clarify research publication records or even to create unique ID numbers for authors. There are many discipline-, institution-, or country-specific unique author identifying systems, such as ResearcherID, DAI (digital author identifier), and Scopus Author Identifier numbers. However, ORCiD is unique in that it works with these other systems rather than in competition with them, acting as a centralized platform connecting separate persistent identifier systems with one another.
ORCiD has become a widespread presence throughout medical research journals. Almost all medical journals provide the option for authors to connect their ORCiD numbers to their publication, with ORCiD logon integrations commonly offered in lieu of journal submission platform login credentials or made available during the author listing section of a submission. In recent years, more journals are requiring ORCiD numbers for corresponding authors. With widespread adoption of ORCiD, some researchers are beginning to use the platform as a data source.
ORCiD as a Professional Networking Tool
The ORCiD website has grown from a landing page for the utility-based system to a professional networking platform. Like LinkedIn, ORCiD allows authors to create their own profiles that include associated websites and social links, biography, affiliated institutions/employment history, alternative names, and other unique author identifier numbers (as mentioned above). However, ORCiD is not a social networking platform—you can’t create connections with other researchers, send messages through the platform, or post status updates.
Though ORCiD has extensive promise as a metadata tool for bibliometrics and publication management, it is not without its drawbacks. There are several shortcomings and concerns that have been cited by researchers.
- Permanence of research publications affiliated with authors can damage an author’s CV if manuscripts are published in predatory journals or are retracted for reasons unrelated to the author’s involvement or control.
- The increasing requirement for ORCiD registration may oppose authors’ rights, freedom of choice, and right to privacy.
- There is an opportunity for potential misuse of ORCiD numbers. For for-profit publishers, ORCiD numbers may be used for data aggregation, sale, and purchase; for fraudulent researchers, empty or “ghost” ORCiD numbers can lend false legitimacy to illegitimate articles.
While there are multiple potential future issues with the ORCiD system, for now, it appears that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Regardless, the research community should remain mindful of the potential problems that may arise so that they can be handled swiftly and completely.
How to Create and Use an ORCiD
Creating an ORCiD is a free, quick, and easy process. Visit https://orcid.org/register to complete the three-step registration and verification process. Once your ORCiD number has been created, you can input as much or as little information as you would like to your profile and link prior research articles you’ve published to your new ID number. Once you have an ORCiD, you can link any future publications to your ID number. You can also include your ORCiD number on your professional social media platforms, resume/CV/biosketch, website, or institutional faculty page to enhance your research’s discoverability.