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ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a nonproprietary alphanumeric code to uniquely identify scientific and other academic authors. This addresses the problem that a particular author's contributions to the scientific literature can be hard to electronically recognize as most personal names are not unique, they can change (such as with marriage), have cultural differences in name order, contain inconsistent use of first-name abbreviations and employ different writing systems. It would provide for humans a persistent identity, similar to that created for content-related entities on digital networks by digital object identifiers (DOIs).
The ORCID organization offers an open and independent registry intended to be the de facto standard for author identification in science and related academic publishing. On 16 October 2012, ORCID launched its registry services  and started issuing user identifiers.
Development and launch
ORCID was first organized as the "Open Researcher Contributor Identification Initiative". A prototype was developed on software adapted from that used by Thomson Reuters for its ResearcherID system. The registry is now an independent nonprofit organization. ORCID is freely usable and interoperable with other ID systems. ORCID launched its registry services and started issuing user identifiers on 16 October 2012. Formally, ORCID IDs are specified as URIs, for example, the ORCID for John Wilbanks is http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4510-0385. However, some publishers use the short form, e.g. "ORCID: 0000-0002-4510-0385".
ORCID is a subset of the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization and the two organizations are cooperating. ISNI will uniquely identify contributors to books, television programmes, and newspapers, and has reserved a block of identifiers for use by ORCID. Both ORCID and ISNI use 16-character identifiers.
It is hoped to aid "the transition from science to e-Science, wherein scholarly publications can be mined to spot links and ideas hidden in the ever-growing volume of scholarly literature". Another suggested use is to provide each researcher with "a constantly updated ‘digital curriculum vitae’ providing a picture of his or her contributions to science going far beyond the simple publication list." The idea is that other organizations will use the open-access ORCID database to build their own services.
It has been noted in an editorial in Nature that ORCID, in addition to tagging the contributions scientists make to papers, "could also be assigned to data sets they helped to generate, comments on their colleagues’ blog posts or unpublished draft papers, edits of Wikipedia entries and much else besides". Thomson Reuters have enabled data exchange between ORCID and its ResearcherID system, and vice versa.
ORCID members, sponsors and registrants
By the end of 2013 ORCID had 111 member organizations and over 460,000 registrants. The organizational members include many publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Nature Publishing Group. Others are research institutions (among them Caltech and Cornell University), commercial companies including Thomson Reuters, academic societies and a charitable foundation, the Wellcome Trust.
- Editorial (2009). "Credit where credit is due". Nature. 462: 825. doi:10.1038/462825a
- ORCID website
- News (30 May 2012) "Scientists: your number is up: ORCID scheme will give researchers unique identifiers to improve tracking of publications.", Declan Butler, "Nature". 485: 564 doi:10.1038/485564a
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