Have you ever noticed that as soon as people begin to publish papers in academic journals, their protectiveness over a thus far long forgotten middle initial suddenly assumes unprecedented significance? Personally, my middle name was primarily a source of embarrassment before I began to insist my name appeared as ‘James B Maurice’ on papers, however low the impact factor. This can give the impression of unnecessary hubris and delusions of grandeur, and perhaps at times it is, but often authors are principally concerned with maintaining a unique identity that is consistent across all work. It is hoped the addition of an initial serves as an additional discriminator, but it is clearly an imperfect system and it won’t just be the Tom Smiths out there that struggle to differentiate themselves in the PubMed search engines.
To address this problem the non-profit organisation ORCID was established with the vision to produce “a world where all who participate in research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders, and time.”
Many readers in established research positions may have been using ORCID for some time, perhaps through an institutional account. However, for those who are less familiar with the system it really is a very simple concept: sign up (free, takes just a few minutes), generate a unique ORCID ID, and tag this ID to all publications to which you are associated. This can be done retrospectively through building up a library of your papers in your online account, and prospectively as papers are submitted for publication.
Journals have long recognised the utility of this system and provided simple ways to add your ORCID ID to your personal details at the time of submission, usually through a click-through to an ORCID login page, which then automatically populates your ID in the requisite box (who can ever remember a 16- digit number?).
The BMJ formally acknowledges the importance of this process in its new ORCID policy, in which it recognises the unique ability of ORCID IDs to “(support authentication) across multiple platforms allowing researchers to link their professional activities and publications to their unique record; ensuring their scholarly contributions are properly attributed and permanently showcased.”
To that end, the BMJ will be making it mandatory for all submitting authors to include ORCID IDs as part of the submission process from 28th November 2018. Simple instructions will be provided on ScholarOne for authors during submission, but further information can also be found at the Authors Hub (https://authors.bmj.com/).
The possibility of a simple, unique, universally recognised ID recognised across multiple research platforms presents a fantastic opportunity for all researchers, and through this new policy the BMJ is continuing its fine tradition in being in the vanguard of research quality and innovation.
Perhaps those embarrassing middle names may return to the back page of the passport…No bad thing!