why is author ID taking so long?

March 22, 2011 at 11:13 am | | literature, science community

DOI is magical. Why is it taking so long for the same thing to happen with authors? Arguably, having unique author IDs is more important and helpful than document identifiers. Yet it’s 2011 and there’s no standard way to ID an author.

Thompson has it’s ResearcherID, but it hasn’t really seem to have caught on. And it’s certainly not a open or universal standard, given it’s based off of ISI. ORCID seems to be (slowly) working on a solution to that. NIH claims that it’s working on a Pubmed Author ID project, but what’s the holdup? Hasn’t the problem of multiple authors with the same or similar name been recognized for years?

There must be some technical and economic hurdles that I don’t quite understand. DOI seemed to arrive on the scene pretty early after the internet started becoming mainstream. That was a few years ago.


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  1. [Disclaimer: NPG has some involvement in ORCID, but I’m not part of the project at all, so I’m not speaking as bona fide author ID expert. Just someone in publishing.]

    Just a couple of points:

    I guess we don’t know how long DOI took to get off the ground – it might have been an equally painful birth! If you think it became a problem when journals first went online in say the early 1990s, and only DOIs only started in 2000, then it took ~10 years!

    I imagine one of the problems is that publishers ‘own’ DOIs – we assign DOIs to our papers and that’s the end of it. No-one else has any stake in it. There are only a few publishers out there (compared to the number of papers/authors) – say of the order of hundreds. But authors – phew! Think how many authors there are and have been in the history of scholarly publishing. And it’s not just tracking Professor Big Shot Smith/Jones and his 200+ publications. What about all the undergraduate Smiths who were 3rd author on one paper only?

    And publishers don’t ‘own’ that problem – the authorship and author ID problem is ‘owned’ by authors themselves and will require thousands upon thousands of people to sort out who they are. And many of those people are dead, out of the game or simply unaware of the problem.

    It’s a pretty mammoth problem.

    Comment by Neil — March 23, 2011 #

  2. It’s 2014 now, has any progress been made on this? I just found the 2010 Pubmed Author ID project notice doing a google search on how to find my Pubmed Author ID. Has anything changed or is this still in development?

    Comment by Chris — January 21, 2014 #

  3. No idea about Pubmed. Orcid exists now. So that’s progress?

    Comment by sam — January 24, 2014 #

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