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Keeping track of the identity of individual researchers across global information systems presents many challenges, for example: 

  • a researcher may use different variations of their name
  • several researchers may have the same name
  • confusion may arise when a researcher moves from one institution to another
  • an institution may even have the same researcher listed more than once in their own records. 

Similar problems emerge with groups of researchers. To allow the discovery of research datasets that share a common researcher or research group, a common public identifier is needed for referencing.

An emerging practice is to let the URL system ensure global uniqueness by maintaining representative or definitive identifier information about the party (or other concept) as a URL. This 'definitive identifier URL' approach is known as linked data. Therefore, in modern information systems, best practice for encoding information about parties (people, groups, and organisations) includes the use of persistent identifiers. These identifiers are ideally unique within a global system or namespace.

There are many systems that maintain identifiers for people (such as every journal publisher, research organisation, funding body, and library) and several international systems. The major international initiatives covering the domains of innovation, research and the creative arts include:

So in practice, researchers actually have several public identifiers, which might have slightly different functions, domain coverage, and governance arrangements. Modern identity aware information systems need to potentially support several public identifiers for parties, enabling triangulation of identity and correspondence across several systems.

The National Library of Australia (NLA) maintains an identity service, Trove for Australian people and organisations. It aims to connect identifiers from different systems to a single identity. Existing ORCIDs for some researchers have already been matched to the NLA identity. Querying the Trove API with an NLA party identifier will in some cases return the ORCID, and vice-versa.

ANDS provides support for Australian research organisations integrating with these international name infrastructures. 

Webinar: ORCID: Linking People to their Research

ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based initiative to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.

During this webinar we heard from three speakers:

  • Dr Adrian Burton, Director Services, ANDS who provided an overview of identifiers for people with particular reference to ORCID identifiers.
  • Dr Laurel Haak, Executive Director, ORCID, will explain how the ORCID system works, who can use it and how, and the benefits to researchers of registering with ORCID.
  • Amir Aryani, Project Manager / eResearch Systems Analyst, ANDS discussed ANDS' role in supporting the use of ORCID identifiers by Australian researchers.