05-28-2009 03:51 AM
ResearcherID is an excellent initiative and is to be welcomed. The need for a kind of "social security number" for publishing scientists is clear (try locating someone called Kim in Seoul!). I believe Elsevier's Scopus also has such an ID facility and there has been discussion about CrossRef being involved in such a system.
There are several stakeholders that have to be engaged in this: database providers, publishers, institutions, funding agencies. If a universal scientist ID is to be successful, all these groups must be involved and the ID must be free of any proprietary status.
What steps are Thomson Reuters taking to involve the necessary groups to make this a truly useful initiative in the global scientific community?
05-28-2009 04:05 PM
Thanks for your input and congratulations on being the first post on the new ResearcherID community forums. We fully agree that proper identification of researchers is an issue that effects all parties involved in the scholarly research workflow. Since the inception of ResearcherID in 2007, we have been working with a number of institutions and other organizations in creating an environment that is for the global scientific community. This is a practice that we will continue as the initiative evolves.
05-31-2009 06:24 AM
I fully agree with Martin: this is a great and needed initiative and there are a number of problems to solve. And I appreciate Ellens comments on the actions taken.
Actually, when I realized ResearcherID, I advertised it at my work place (in March 2007) and prophesied that everybody will have this unique number within five years and every journal will link directly your RID to your articles when publishing. Those five years are not over yet, but it seems to me that the development is not that fast.
06-03-2009 04:21 PM
06-06-2009 11:24 AM - edited 06-06-2009 11:31 AM
Knut - you are right that it seems slow taking off and I would be interested how many ResearcherID participants there are. I looked at the keyword "neuroscience" and it only returned 43 names. It could be that people aren't using the keyword feature, but this seems unlikely.
06-06-2009 11:44 AM
Ellen - thanks for the welcome. One thing that is not clear to me is how to search on a ResearcherID in the Web of Science. I input my RID as author and found nothing even though some of the articles are associated with my RID. Have I missed something?
06-08-2009 10:43 AM
Following are comments I posted to a mailing list a little while ago, after taking ResearcherID out for a test drive (and some alternatives). I'd be interested in further discussion or addressing of some of these issues - definitely along the lines of the open standards question. For context, I work for the research journals of the American Physical Society, where we're trying to address some of these issues in our internal database.
... An open public solution could be a big help. I don't think ResearcherID or AuthorClaim are there yet, and I haven't heard a lot of details on the CrossRef project.
There are at least two general issues:
(1) Identity of authors of previously published articles
- some sort of claim/validation process is needed. We are trying to simplify that as much as possible for our articles by some heuristics on names, contact information, subject areas, etc. - in particular, linking an author with an email address seems to be the most reliable identifier, though not perfect.
- However, this sort of simplification/automation is far easier for the corresponding author - for other authors we only have names (and some record of affiliation and subject) to go by, so there will definitely need to be a more complex "claims" process in that case
- All of this is complicated by authors changing affiliations, using several slightly different names or even changing names, changing corresponding authors on a paper or having a mismatch between the listed corresponding author and the contact information, occasionally sharing email addresses with others, etc.
We think we can get most of our records linked in this way to unique instances of authors, but we're inevitably going to have some percentage of erroneous relationships: some papers linked to the wrong author, and some authors listed two or more times as being different people.
ResearcherID in a sense doubles the problem - ISI makes no attempt to verify authorship claims, and it doesn't even seem to provide a way to uniquely list articles more than 10 years old (I uploaded all my 1995 and earlier publications there, and it doesn't seem to understand anything about them - no citation data etc.) At least CrossRef would solve the "what article are you talking about" problem by ensuring unique article identifiers in the first place. And then, how do we uniquely associate our author records with a ResearcherID number? ISI doesn't currently provide a protocol for an individual to prove to a third party that they own a particular ResearcherID, and the webservices they do provide are tied to WebOfScience subscriptions. An individual can acquire more than one ResearcherID, and list subsets of the same publications under multiple identities, if they chose (or if they just forgot they'd registered previously).
AuthorClaim seems to be based on an internal database of articles (most of mine were not there, though it found over 1000 matching my name!), so it controls the article side of things - doing this with the CrossRef database and DOI's as article identifiers would make sense. That doesn't seem to be what it's doing yet, but at least articles should be uniquely identified there, so it doesn't have the ResearcherID problem on that front. On the other hand it does seem to have similar issues with claims and potential for author duplication.
OpenID, generically, does not help either although it does provide that third-party proof-of-ownership piece that ResearcherID is missing right now. An individual can have many different OpenID's, just as they can have many different email addresses, and an OpenID associated with an individual is probably practically just about as useful as an email for uniquely identifying them. We already have email addresses for essentially all our (corresponding) authors of the last decade, and two decades for a good fraction, and it's still tough to figure out exactly who's who.
Unless there's some strong motive for researchers to stick to a unique non-shared ID in self-identifying, or other actors in the research system force such a unique ID somehow, this issue of duplicate records for older work is not going away.
(2) Identity of authors from the point of submission through publication/citation etc.
- this ensures the integrity of the links between author(s) and article by getting it in up front - we have this now based on email addresses (and names and affiliations), at least for corresponding authors, but those can change, so a more permanent unique ID would be useful.
- However, this doesn't completely solve the duplicate ID problem; an author can still acquire more than one ID. The advantage in a going-forward system is that the author would have some motive in uniting their records; otherwise their publications would split between the separate ID's.
- Co-authors (other than the corresponding author) would also need to have some way to prove their identities and authorship if we want the same reliable connection for other than the corresponding author. This has the advantage that all authors should be aware of a publication in progress. On the other hand, this could be quite a burden for large collaborations, and we'd need to make exceptions for papers where one of the authors becomes unavailable or deceased during the publication process.
The requirements for handling issue (2) are technically straightforward but perhaps practically difficult due to the need for cooperation:
* Provide every author with a unique permanent identifier (OpenID, ResearcherID, email address...)
* Provide a mechanism for third-party validation of that identifier (OpenID and email allow this - email just by having the third party send a validation email)
* Have publishers require authors go through that validation in the process of submitting articles for publication
* Record and preserve the unique permanent identifiers as part of the article record (associated with a given author of that article), and distribute as part of article metadata etc.
The requirements I'd suggest to get full authoring relationships for historical data, issue (1), are technically trickier but perhaps practically easier:
* Heuristically group author-article pairs by author name, affiliation, subject, email, and whatever other article-based data is available that could uniquely identify each author
* Use non-article data, if available (history of a particular person's affiliations or email addresses, for instance) to join these groups together into best-match single-author clusters
* For authors still working as researchers, apply the unique identifier used for current work (issue 2, above) to have them validate themselves and claim to be particular authors, and correct or approve the single-author cluster(s) belonging to them.
* Ensure that only one validated claim (one unique author identifier) is allowed per author of any article
* Update article metadata with the author identifiers
There's a lot of potential here, but it's going to be slow going without a widely used and agreed upon unique, validatable, permanent, author identifier.
I'd like to add to these earlier comments one additional thought - I believe such a system with its various validation flaws could be greatly strengthened by some sort of community assignment process, where outside people have an opportunity to indicate their agreement or disagreement with particular authorship claims.
06-08-2009 04:40 PM
Thanks for the conversation and posts. Over the past year and a half we have been releasing functionality around the registry. The user interface was the initially available followed by the labs functionality. Lately we have been focusing on upload services that make it possible for academic institution to create ResearcherIDs for their faculty and researchers. There will be more enhancements later this year. As Ellen noted earlier, we are continuing to work with users to drive enhancements to the system.
Our Technical Support staff can help with your Web of Science question – http://scientific.thomsonreuters.com/techsupport
06-08-2009 05:01 PM
Thanks for helping us get the dialog going. The development team is working on further integration between ResearcherID and the Web of Science. More information about this functionality should be available around October. Keywords are currently entered by the user, as we move forward we are looking to enhance this functionality. Currently there are about 40,000 registered users.