By Christine Anne George
Names are funny things. You get them at birth and they stick with you for the rest of your life. Studies have indicated that certain names are associated with certain professions, but there’s still quite a bit of chance to it. At least I like to think so. It’s not as if you can be barred from using a particular name because it’s already in use when you enter a profession….well, unless you’re with the Screen Actors Guild. I will admit that I didn’t have a strong opinion about people with the same names (even though I experience sitcom-esque shenanigans due to confusion with a similarly named archivist) until I began working with citation metrics. Then I formed opinions quickly. What are the odds that two law faculty will have the same name and write on (almost) the same topic? Better than you might think. Maybe Hollywood has the right idea.
When I first heard about ORCID (Open Research and Contributor ID), it was the identifier aspect that spoke to me. ORCID creates an identifying number, along the lines of a Social Security number, for a researcher which allows a long-suffering law librarian to easily determine whether her Professor XYZ was the author of a publication or whether it was that other Professor XYZ. Huzzah! Confusion be gone!
Now that I’m working on registering my law faculty for ORCID IDs and populating their profiles, I can say definitively that ORCID is more than just a number. Forgive me if this turns into a bit of a rah-rah post for ORCID, but the more I work with it, the more I believe that there are significant benefits for legal scholars and those who track their scholarship. I would be remiss, however, if this statement comes with a pretty big caveat: the benefits for legal scholars are not as great as the benefits for scholars in other disciplines. This is a constant refrain when dealing with bibliometrics, but that is a topic for another post…
When a researcher registers with ORCID, they are given a unique identifier. Ideally, the researcher would include their ORCID ID when submitting a publication. The Royal Society in the UK made big news by requiring an ORICD ID for submission. Other publishers in the sciences are pushing for ORCID IDs too. There is no indication that law reviews will follow suit, but there is nothing barring a legal scholar from including an ORCID ID in their bio.
The ORCID benefit that was not obvious to me at first is the profile. Researchers can use their ORCID profile like a CV. It is also completely under the researcher’s control. Administrative access can be granted, but ORCID is for life. It travels with the researcher from institution to institution, publication to publication. In the shifting world of academic appointments, it is a constant. ORCID profiles can include educational and employment history, list funding awarded from grants, and spell out name variations.
The two areas of the ORCID profile that I think are the most important are the Works and Websites sections. With ORCID, Works doesn’t just mean publications. Potentially any scholarly activity can be included in ORCID’s supported work types. Why does that matter? It’s a way to show a complete picture of scholarship—presentations, posters, blog posts, editorial activity, and more. It can all be listed. It can also be found. There’s an Identifier field with each entry. Unfortunately, most law reviews do not provide DOIs for articles, but there is an identifier for SSRN which provides a link to the article abstract. Or, if all else fails, a link to a catalog record or institutional repository. It can also serve as a helpful reminder to preserve scholarship. I’ve been using perma.cc (mentioned a couple of weeks ago by fellow RIPS blogger Ashley Ahlbrand) to capture blog posts and other web publications that could potentially be lost in the world wide abyss.
The other section of the ORCID profile I find really important is Websites. I’ve been using this section to connect the ORCID profile to other scholarly profiles, such as the law school’s faculty profile, an SSRN author page, or the institutional repository. My goal is synergy. ORCID profiles do not appear in Google searches. You need to be on the ORCID site to run a search. But, more and more databases are recognizing ORCID. You can include your ORCID ID in both HeinOnline author profiles and SSRN author pages. ResearchGate had a place for it too. All of the information is linked, so a profile leads to ORCID, which then serves as a portal to all other profiles and works. Thus, the Works and Websites make ORCID a one-stop shop for scholarship and impact.
As we all know, every rose has its thorn, and ORCID does have its disappointments. As I mentioned before, law is at a bit of a disadvantage. Law is not well represented in database such as SCOPUS and Web of Science that can export works directly into ORCID. A lot of manual entry is necessary, which can be time consuming. While it’s possible to grant administrative access, each researcher must register for ORCID and then add an account delegate, who also must be registered for ORCID. ORCID does not produce any metrics, though it can link to databases that do, such as SCOPUS and HeinOnline, and can feed information into others.
Though this post has been far from brief—at least compared to my other ones—there’s so much I haven’t touched upon: being a member vs. nonmember, outreach, and collaborating with other university librarians interested in making ORCID work for their faculty. If you’re interested in discussing any of this further, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.