Scholarly Communication: ORCID for Scholars and Librarians

Submitted by Andrew Keck, Chair, Task Force on Scholarly Communication in Religion and Theology

As librarians and scholarly communication professionals, many of us understand “authority issues” as not describing a political issue but rather issues with authorized headings and names. 

“Smith, James” or “Garcia, Jose” or other common names have always been a challenge to establish authorized names. Even with adding middle names (or initials) and birth dates, unique personal names are unlikely in every case. Plus, names are not always fixed in a single form — they can change over time and be expressed in multiple variations (e.g., initials, nicknames, translated, etc.). While some names might be identified further by association with particular subjects, there are polymaths like Isaac Asimov who famously published books gracing every Dewey classification.

Enter ORCID, originally an acronym for Open Researcher and Contributor ID, which assigns a non-proprietary, persistent, alphanumeric code to identify academic authors. Launched just over four years ago, the registry has over 3 million registered accounts and is being integrated into the work of research institutions, publishers, academic societies, and funding bodies.

Members include associations (Modern Language Association), publishers (Wiley, Sage, Elsevier), consortia and research institutions (Smithsonian, Lyrasis), and vendors (EBSCO, Proquest). Around 18 million individual works now have authors with integrated ORCID identifiers.

So what should we do?

Register for an ORCID ID – it’s free – and connect your existing education and publications as desired. As you work with faculty, scholars, and graduate students, encourage them to register as well.

While we are just beginning to see integration in the humanities, the day will soon arrive when ORCID IDs will be pretty standard when submitting journal articles or completing grant applications.

The Task Force on Scholarly Communication in Religion and Theology’s mission is to advance scholarly communication in theology and religious studies by providing librarians, archivists, and other information professionals with a disciplinary framework and by implementing strategic initiatives. Learn more.

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