What is an ORCID iD and do you need one?

Once in a while researchers ask me: «what is my ORCID»? Or: «where do I find my ORCID id»? This has left me wondering whether an understanding is spreading that ORCID iD is something all researchers have, and that what you need to do is find it. Well, if only…

Cristin has tried to come up with a solution that would match Cristin ids with ORCID iDs, but not succeeded. So, I am afraid you have to put in an effort yourself to get an ORCID iD if you have not already done so. (But I think it will be worth it.)

Who is ORCID and what is an ORCID iD?

ORCID is an international, non-profit organization created by and for the research community. The expansion of the acronym is «Open Researcher and Contributor IDentifier».

ORCID provides ORCID iDs, which are unique, persistent, digital identifiers, comparable to DOI for research articles and datasets or ISBN for books. They consist of sixteen digits grouped in fours. You have probably seen them in the form of this green icon in author bylines in academic journals:

How do you get and maintain an ORCID iD?

Getting one is very easy. All you have to do is go to their website and register. Your name, published name, biography, and e-mailadress must be entered into your profile manually. Everything else can be imported from other systems. ORCID is not proprietary, and is designed to be used across databases.

Once you have your ORCID iD, you should start using it. Add it when you can or are asked to do so, to help ease the information flow. Actually, an increasing number of funders, journals and distributors of research output demand it from you now.

Older publications will not be added to your profile automatically, but they can easily be imported from different sources and databases, like Scopus or Web of Science. For detailed information on how to proceed, visit ORCID’s support page.

Yet another profile? Really?

You already have your Cristin profile and your institutional profile, and perhaps some project pages you need to update and maintain. Then there is the Google Scholar profile that someone convinced you was such a good idea, that proves to demand some attention from you, because Google keeps confusing you with a person with a similar name to yours. And ResearchGate – isn’t that what all your colleagues seem to be using? (Even to exchange articles ?!) And if any of your publications have been indexed by Scopus, they seem to have given you an id, or maybe even two, because you have changed your name, or your institution has merged with others, and Scopus hasn’t noticed. And is ResearcherID a separate thing? (Yes, and it is automatically assigned to you when your research output is indexed in Web of Science). And so on and so forth.

One short and some longer answers

The short answer to the question why you need an ORCID iD is likely to be: Because your publisher insists on it. However, there are other, more weighty reasons why it is a good idea to get one. For instance:

  • It allows you to gather information from many different suppliers in one place, and makes it easier for others to find it. (Yes, I know, Cristin was supposed to do that, but how many of your international peers know about Cristin, or can make use of it?)
  • The iD is permanently linked to you as a person, and not affected by changes in name, employment, ownership, mergers and the like.
  • It reduces the risk as well of confusion with other authors, as of errors due to misspellings, differing conventions etc. and helps ensure you get proper credit for your work.
  • It can save precious time if you let systems exchange information about you, rather than do it manually.

Still not convinced? Maybe watching this video will help?

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