7: researcher identifiers

September 25, 2015 – 8:39 am

This week we explore the benefits of setting up Researcher Identifiers to create an accessible online presence for your research outputs. They can also help you to track and measure the impact of your scholarly research publications.

If you are an academic, you are likely to have an online university profile. However, there are a number of other researcher profile systems or researcher identifiers that can link your publications and create a unique scholarly identity. Some are open-access initiatives, others are linked to subscription citation databases, and increasingly the various systems are becoming interlinked.

Benefits of Researcher Identifiers

It’s well worth investing time to set up your researcher identifiers and online publication profile. They increase your online visibility and thus the chances of your research being read and being cited. Researcher profiles can be browsed by other researchers, prospective research collaborators, students, journalists, and funding bodies.

Researcher identifiers also distinguish you from other researchers via author disambiguation. When researchers have similar or identical names it can be difficult for others to easily identify or attribute your work. Some researchers change names during their careers and author names may be displayed in varying formats in different publications and indexes. Researcher identifiers can be used to group all name variations under which you may have published and your affiliations with different institutions.

You may be required to list your publishing ‘track record’ or ‘Top 10’ publications as evidence of scholarly impact for academic tenure,  promotion and funding applications. The gathering of this information can be time-consuming if done manually. Researcher profiles and identifiers assist with the easy compilation of research impact report. Also, it’s quick to check who has been citing your papers!

Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID)

ORCID is an open, non-profit, and internationally recognised registry of unique researcher identifiers. It provides a method for linking your research activities and outputs using a 16-digit number to identify individual researchers in much the same way that ISBNs and DOIs identify individual books and articles. ORCID is discipline- and corporate-neutral and also interlinks other identifier systems.

ORCID identifiers are increasingly being used by journal publishers, funding bodies and university repositories, to identify individual researchers. A number of journal submission systems now ask for ORCID identifiers. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and The Australian Research Council (ARC) encourage all researchers applying for funding to have an ORCID identifier. See NHMRC and ARC Statement on Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID).

ORCID itself does not track citations, but it can be used with citation indexes.

Try this

Set up an ORCID identifier if you don’t already have one. It’s a short and easy process and will save you time later. If you have more than one university email address, it is important that you make sure that your ORCID account has all your email addresses associated with it to avoid duplicate ORCIDs being created.

ResearcherID (Thomson Reuters)

Thomson Reuters, producer of Web of Science, provides the free ResearcherID service which can be used even if your publications are not indexed in Web of Science.

With a ResearcherID you can build a biographical profile and an online publication list, which is not restricted to journal articles but can also include patents, conference proceedings, grants and so on. The ResearcherID can provide citation counts for any of your Web of Science-indexed papers, and an ‘h-index’ is automatically calculated on these. ResearcherID profiles can be public or private and there is an option to assign an ORCID at the same time.

When used within the Web of Science database, ResearcherID simplifies the process of compiling Author Citation Reports, h-indexes and other publication metrics, and provides greater accuracy. This can be handy when you need to gather research impact metrics quickly for that looming application deadline.

For more information on ResearcherID, see the website and this factsheet.

Scopus Author Identifier (Elsevier)

Scopus, another of the large subscription citation indexes, provides citation counts for the articles and authors published within the Scopus journal set.

Publications indexed in the Scopus citation database are automatically assigned Scopus Author Identifiers. If your publications are indexed in Scopus you’ll be assigned an Identifier, which you can use to can create your Citation Overview, calculate your ‘h-index’ and view other metrics for publications from 1996 onwards. To view author level metrics use the Author Search, and from the results click on an author’s name. Your Scopus Author ID can also be linked to your ORCID identifier.

It’s a good idea to check the accuracy of your Scopus Author profile on a regular basis and ensure that you only have a single Identifier.

Learn more about Scopus Author Identifiers here.

Google Scholar Citations

Google Scholar Citations profiles assist in providing citation data from a variety of sources. Google Scholar indexes a broader range of publication types than the subscription citation databases; for example, it also includes working papers, government reports, theses, and book chapters. A Google Scholar Citations profile will help you to keep track of who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and calculate different citation metrics. We recommend that Google Scholar Citations profiles are made public (the default is private), so that they appear in Google Scholar results, which makes it easy for others to follow your work. As with other online identifiers, authors should check their Google Scholar Citations profile regularly to ensure correct assignment of publications.


  • You need to actively monitor your researcher profiles to keep them up-to-date and ensure that all your publications are included. A number of the publication lists are generated automatically and we’ve sometimes seen incorrect publications assigned to authors, which skews the accuracy of automatically generated metrics.
  • Citation counts alone are not an indication of excellent research. They should be used with other qualitative measures.
  • No single tool can provide a comprehensive measurement of research publication impact. Tools providing citation analysis can only track the journals indexed within the individual database. This means that results obtained from the different citation tools are not comparable since their coverage varies. Similarly, these tools are not comprehensive listings of all global research publications: i.e., not all researchers publish in journals indexed by Web of Science or Scopus, and not all publications are indexed in Google Scholar.

Comparison chart

  Researcher ID Google Scholar Citations Scopus Author Identifier ORCID ID
Owner Thomson Reuters Google Elsevier Open-source, non-profit
Citation counts  Yes Yes Yes No
h-index Yes Yes Yes No
User privacy controls  Yes Yes N/A Yes
Open, public profile  Yes Yes No Yes
Need to know Stand-alone webpage.Public or private.All publications can be added.Provides citation data for Web of Science-indexed publications.Can be used in Web of Science.Author reports can be downloaded from Web of Science.Can be linked to ORCID. Need to ensure no erroneous publications are assigned automatically.Make your profile public, so that it will appear in Scholar results when your name is searched. Scopus automatically generates an Author Identifier.Only offered to authors with papers published in journals indexed by Scopus.Cannot attach publications from other sources.Regularly check that your publications are linked under one author identifier. If not, request to merge authors.Can be linked to ORCID. Being used by publishers, citation databases, funders.Can link to your other identifiers e.g. Scopus, ResearcherID or LinkedIn

Need help with any of the above?

Further Reading

Jonathon O’Donnell, “Allow Me to Introduce Myself.” Research Whisperer, 6 May 2014.

Question for Thing 7:

Based on reading about Researcher Identifiers – what would be your advice to an ACU researcher about them?

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  1. 11 Responses to “7: researcher identifiers”

  2. My advice to ACU researchers about Researcher Identifiers is – get on board! Get one or two because they are great. Authority control speaks to my former life as a cataloguer. But aside from the neat and orderly aspect of Researcher IDs, most of the researchers I’ve liaised with have had an issue (or someone they know) that can be resolved by having an ID. Publishers make typos, people change their names etc and researcher IDs work around these issues. Despite having a rather unique name, I have all of the IDs listed on the comparison chart and my ORCID ID is the only accurate reflection of my research output. I’ve been fortunate to be able to use myself as a case study when promoting IDs to ACU researchers.

    By Tatum on Sep 27, 2015

  3. Like Tatum I also have all the IDs and that helps when showing researchers how they can set up their own IDs. It’s great to have the Library’s subject guide to summarise the ids and provide links.

    By Tracy Bruce on Oct 2, 2015

  4. I completely agree with Tatum, I have attended 2 of her webinars on research IDs and was convinced after the first. In education, there are a lot of really common names and I always advise to set up at least an ORCID.

    By Nica on Oct 2, 2015

  5. I think it is great idea.

    By Margery Barnes on Oct 2, 2015

  6. I agree with the everyone above.
    I dislike social media and don’t have a personal online life. However, if I were a researcher, I would want others to see what I have done, and I have no objections to having a professional online life. As someone with an unusual name I especially appreciate the ability to group all versions of my name together.
    My advice to an ACU researcher would be to go for it! And I’d probably show them the comparison table above. A possible addition to the ACU Researcher ID libguide?

    By Gertrud on Oct 5, 2015

  7. Excellent-the distinction is good and plainly put! – using social media as a researcher and having a “professional online life”.

    By ACULibrary on Oct 6, 2015

  8. I agree Gertrud. I have been to a presentation given on the Scopus tool and it looked to be a powerful way to produce activity reports of publications. I’m a big fan of bringing all formats of an author together (known in the cataloguing days of old as name authorities). These work well particularly for Corporate names if looking to gather together all research grants provided by a single agency in specific fields of any given research field to see if this might be other ways of undertaking collaborative research opportunities. Yes, I would definitely advise a researcher to take up this up as an additional tool to establish their research portfolio to be made available globally.

    By Helena on Oct 6, 2015

  9. I love the way author IDs allow you to pull everything together, regardless of typos, changes in names, affiliations and citation styles.

    As a researcher, adding them to your email signature sounds like a good idea too.

    By Colleen on Oct 15, 2015

  10. I like how Gertrud distinguishes between a personal online life and a professional online life.
    I like this guys post too – Further Reading

    Jonathon O’Donnell, “Allow Me to Introduce Myself.” Research Whisperer, 6 May 2014.

    By sally kudrna on Oct 15, 2015

  11. It’s a good post isn’t it?? https://theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/people-identifiers/

    By ACULibrary on Oct 16, 2015

  12. I think we are all in agreement here….regardless of how you feel personally about online presence. In a professional research capacity, get on board with researcher IDs!!

    By ACULibrary on Oct 16, 2015

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