It looks like another piece of the universal information infrastructure is falling into place with the Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID) author identifier service. Backed by a group of leading universities, publishers, and professional associations, the service aims to assign a unique number so that each author’s works and citations can be tracked accurately. Computer algorithms can distinguish one author from another using location, site, date, subject area, and coauthorship data, but they can still be wrong 5 – 10 percent of the time.
For organizations, especially those that reward scholars based on their publications, it means that there is no easy way to ensure the accuracy of institutional repositories, find experts, and assess research proposals. Existing author identification services have not gained wide support either because they are controlled by a commercial entity or because they lack the funding to build a sustainable service.
The ORCID service will not only issue unique author identifiers but will also enable linking to existing author identification services (e.g. ResearcherID, Scopus Author ID, RePEC, INSPIRE). For more information, see Open Researcher & Contributor ID.
On the other hand, author identifiers won’t protect from us from bad research and phony experts. See:
Lies, Damned lies, and Medical science (The Atlantic, November 2010)
To Err Is Human. And How! And Why. (The New York Times, June 10, 2010)