Why ORCID and ResearcherID When We Have Google Scholar?


February 15, 2015

A while ago I and other researchers received an official recommendation from our university DTU to sign up for a so-called ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID), as explained in more detail by the DTU Provost in this video.


According to the ORCID homepage “Registration takes 30 seconds”, and I almost went on to register without thinking more about it – but then paused for a second to ask myself whether I actually need an ORCID. The aim of ORCID is to “create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers”, which in principle sounds appealing; I’d like for others to easily be able to get an overview of my scientific production, and this appears to be exactly what ORCID provides.

However, it sounds a lot like ResearcherID: “a solution to the author ambiguity problem within the scholarly research community. Each member is assigned a unique identifier to enable researchers to manage their publication lists, track their times cited counts and h-index, identify potential collaborators and avoid author misidentification”. And indeed it is possible to link ORCID with ResearcherID – as well as other researcher identifiers – to tie the information from various platforms together.

I have for a couple of years had a ResearcherID profile, but I never used it a lot – and never talked to other researchers who appeared to be using it actively (even though one group at my department seems to be using it consistently).

My ResearcherID list of publications isn’t fully up to date, and before writing this post I wanted to update it – since I don’t like for my public profiles to not be up to date. Therefore, I logged in on ResearcherID and chose “Add Publications”, which sent me to the page shown below.


Ideally, I would want to use Web of Science where I can search and find my publications and add them to my ResearcherID profile; tying the entries in my ResearcherID profile to the Web of Science database is convenient since it then automatically includes citations registered in that database.

However, as my “IP address is not in the Web of Science subscription database” (see red box in the above picture), this was not possible. I probably need to visit the site when I’m online at my university, and there might be ways to get access when I’m online elsewhere. But in a nutshell this is exactly why my ResearcherID profile is not up to date: It’s simply too tedious to update it manually, especially when I cannot enter Web of Science no matter where or when I want to do it. If I had a feeling it was important, because other researchers were using ResearcherID actively, I would probably dedicate more time and energy to it – but as mentioned previously that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In contrast to this, my Google Scholar profile stays up to date automatically, and if I want to make additions or changes to the profile, I can do it where or when it suits me. I’m well aware that Google Scholar citations can be gamed, and that Google Scholar citation numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. But nevertheless it provides a seamless system and a unique identifier for researchers that sign up for a profile. And, probably most importantly, it appears to be a tool that researchers use actively, to find publications on specific topics or from specific authors.

I didn’t sign up for an ORCID, and based on my experience with ResearcherID – that I find tedious and not particularly useful, especially in comparison with Google Scholar – I’m not convinced I will do so.

But please enlighten me on the things I might have misunderstood about how to use ORCID or ResearcherID, or why they are important and useful, in general or as compared to Google Scholar – in the comments below or by replying to the above tweet.

14 thoughts on “Why ORCID and ResearcherID When We Have Google Scholar?

  1. Lori K Brown

    You ask why one should have a ResearcherID or ORCiD account when an approximation of the same data can be accessed via Google Scholar. I can think of at least three reasons, two which are entirely self-interested and the last which is outward looking.

    1) Never forget that Google is in the business of selling ads & eyeballs. You will have access to Google Scholar for exactly as long as they deem it to be a profitable, or at least not excessively costly, part of their business model.
    2) As a free service, it gets exactly as much support, care, and curation as you are paying for. Where are you supposed to go when you find an error in the citations or data that it reports for an author or article? You are out of luck, and I constantly find errors in Google Scholar data, to the point that I don’t really find it sufficiently reliable. Whereas the underlying data for ResearcherID (Web of Knowledge) is wonderfully curated & any error I report is meticulously corrected.

    3) Because ORCiD is a public open-source project, it supports goals that are more public in nature, like transparency in the product of grant-funded research, and the very sensible desire of researchers to be able to accurately claim and report what work is theirs. You have a unique name, but for scholars with very common names, attribution and proper credit for their work is very difficult to maintain.

    You can quite easily overcome the inconvenience of not always being able to access the Web of Knowledge by looking up your works on CrossRef via their DOI and exporting to RIS or whatever citation format you need. While slightly tedious, I doubt that you are producing such a high volume of scholarly work that you would need to update your records more than a few times a year. You are fortunate to work in a technical field where DOIs are becoming nearly ubiquitous; if you were a philosopher or historian, DOIs are not as widely available.

    I maintain ResearcherID accounts for over 100 atmospheric scientists, and have done so since 2010. It’s just not that difficult, and using properly curated data, which originates with either the journal publisher or with a research database like Web of Knowledge, is simply a small cost of doing business as a modern scholar who understands the necessity of curating an accurate digital presence. The supporting interfaces and APIs, which are evolving and not always as seamless as we might like, will improve and reduce the manual effort involved in doing this. For now, it does take a little effort, but it is ultimately in YOUR interest as a researcher to make that effort in order to be able to be confident that your colleagues, potential employers, publishers, and grantees will see accurate data about your work in your online digital research profile.

    Reply
    1. Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson Post author

      Dear Lori,

      Thanks for sharing your comments and feedback on the topic of my post. You have some good points, and I have today updated my ResearcherID profile after reading your comments.

      Some points and comments on what you wrote:

      1) Never forget that Google is in the business of selling ads & eyeballs. You will have access to Google Scholar for exactly as long as they deem it to be a profitable, or at least not excessively costly, part of their business model.

      That’s right, and if Google all of a sudden close Google Scholar, my Google Scholar profile will disappear. But that could also be the case for Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive, and nevertheless I rely on these services on a daily basis. I also used Google Reader that Google decided to close. At first, that seemed like a catastrophe, but another solution (for me Feedly) took over its place.
      I would be sad if Google Scholar closed, but because the service is so seamless and automated, my investment in it (in terms of time spent) is fairly small.

      2) As a free service, it gets exactly as much support, care, and curation as you are paying for. Where are you supposed to go when you find an error in the citations or data that it reports for an author or article? You are out of luck, and I constantly find errors in Google Scholar data, to the point that I don’t really find it sufficiently reliable. Whereas the underlying data for ResearcherID (Web of Knowledge) is wonderfully curated & any error I report is meticulously corrected.

      This is a good selling point for the commercial solutions (like Web of Knowledge) – because indeed there is nowhere to go when something is wrong in Google Scholar. On the other hand, I get a pretty efficient service that is SO much faster than Web of Knowledge in updating me on who has published new work or who has cited my work.

      Because ORCiD is a public open-source project, it supports goals that are more public in nature, like transparency in the product of grant-funded research, the very sensible desire of researchers to be able to accurately claim and report what work is theirs. You have a unique name, but for scholars with very common names, attribution and proper credit for their work is very difficult to maintain.

      I agree that it can be problematic for scholars that have generic names to receive credit for all of their work – but they can get a Google Scholar profile and claim it. In addition Google Scholar profiles are very likely to show up in Google searches before ORCID and ResearcherID profile pages. And I much prefer that people find my publication list page (of which ever service I use) on the first Google search page than that they have to look onto the subsequent search pages.

      You can quite easily overcome the inconvenience of not always being able to access the Web of Knowledge by looking up your works on CrossRef via their DOI and exporting to RIS or whatever citation format you need.

      I did that with one of my first papers – i.e. imported the reference manually with a BibTeX file – and it rightly appeared in my ResearcherID profile. However, it didn’t have any citation statistics attached to it. Is that always the case – or will the citation statistics (that is pulled from Web of Knowledge) eventually show up, also for manually imported references?
      If the citation statistics doesn’t show up upon manual import, I would find it of little value – since I would then need a Web of Knowledge subscription to keep my profile updated at all time. Or have a profile without citation statistics – which I already have on my personal homepage.

      While slightly tedious, I doubt that you are producing such a high volume of scholarly work that you would need to update your records more than a few times a year.

      You are right, it is not right now more work than that I can do it manually:-) But more senior researchers publish a lot of work – more than a few papers per year – and I can understand if they don’t feel like doing this manually, when Google Scholar can do it automatically. Why can’t ResearcherID profile update themselves manually and, for example like Google Scholar, send an e-mail when a change is made to the profile?

      Reply
      1. Lori Brown

        First thing, thanks for starting this conversation, it’s a valuable one, with the proliferation of tools for tracking and listing research publications.

        Yes, it is possible to update the citations on your ResearcherID account list when you are NOT at the university or on an IP address that gives you access to the Web of Knowledge. First, log in to your account, second, click the orange button on the middle / right of the page that says ‘Manage publications’, third, select all your articles (click the box that says ‘select page’), then click the yellow button just above the list that says “Update using Web of Science Core Collection”. This will update the displayed citation counts for all of your articles, if the articles you have added manually are ‘matched’ in the Web of Science database, and if there is any additional data (citations) to retrieve to your account. You will see either text saying something like ‘your publications have been updated’, or ‘no updates are available’.

        How can you tell if articles in your ResearcherID profile are ‘matched’ ? When you ARE at your university, log in to your ResearcherID account. When you look at the list of articles, are the article titles hyperlinked? When you click on the hyperlinks, they should pop up the Web of Science listing for that article. That is the reason to do your searching / adding of articles for ResearcherID from a ‘logged in’ location, so you can be sure to retrieve the version of the article that will easily capture citation updates. (can you tell I’ve been doing this for a while?)

        If the articles in your ResearcherID account are NOT linked, I would recommend replacing them with versions you retrieve directly from Web of Science, so that they will get citation count updates. It’s the easiest way, trust me.

        The reason that Google Scholar is ‘faster’ is that it’s drawing on uncurated data. And really, the time difference between when an article is published and when it is available in a database (or exportable from the journal’s own website) is rarely more than a few weeks. Personally, I prefer a small wait time and good data over instantaneous access to crappy data. 🙂

        You say you don’t care if you are relying on a service that may cease to exist tomorrow, and that may be, but the point of research profiles is that you are going to share them with others — potential employers, current employers, funders, colleagues. If they attempt to use a link to a service that disappears, do you think they are going to scour the internet for whatever service you end up migrating to in its place? I wouldn’t want to have to count on that, myself. These profile tools need to be somewhat reliably available or they aren’t really good for much, and the person whose convenience you have to think of is not so much you, as those who are going to want to reference that information. And I can tell you, when it comes to the internet usage patterns of people 10-20 years older than you, they are NOT likely to scour Google to find your profile if the first link you gave them is no good. They will shrug and think you fatfingered the link, and will just not bother to get to your profile.

        Regarding the requirement at more and more institutions that researchers have ORCiD accounts, and their use by publishers: Here is a list of member organizations in ORCiD, a growing number of which are publishers: http://orcid.org/organizations/integrators/current. I am pretty sure that Wiley and other big publishers are starting to offer researchers a data field in their user profile that will accommodate their ORCiD identifier. This is really really really important, and here’s why. If authors submit articles for publication with an ORCiD identifier (and / or ResearcherID), when the article is published, that ORCiD identifier is associated with the article’s metadata ALREADY! So, it will (eventually) be automatically added to your ORCiD profile, thus achieving the instantaneity you crave and think you are getting from Google Scholar, with the data quality and reliability one can now only get from paid database subscriptions like Web of Science. ORCiD is the emerging international, open source standard identification key for researchers, institutions, scholarly works of all kinds (not just journal articles), even datasets eventually. So while in the near term ResearcherID offers usability advantages because it is a more mature interface and is hooked to a great (paid) database, the future belongs to ORCiD, and it will benefit you to get an ORCiD account (which you can do by clicking a button on your ResearcherID account and following the steps provided) and then to copy over your publications so that both lists are accurate. I should probably fess up and let you know that I am what’s called an ORCiD Ambassador, and participate regularly in activities to encourage and spread the use of them by scholars. There are over 1 million ORCiD accounts worldwide now, which far outstrips any of the proprietary account types.

        By they way, I tried to search for your ResearcherID account, and I could not find it. ????

        Reply
        1. Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson Post author

          First thing, thanks for starting this conversation, it’s a valuable one, with the proliferation of tools for tracking and listing research publications.

          You are welcome – it’s an interesting debate, and thanks also for sharing your views and comments. And, of course, feel free to share the link for my post when discussing this elsewhere.

          Yes, it is possible to update the citations on your ResearcherID account list when you are NOT at the university or on an IP address that gives you access to the Web of Knowledge. First, log in to your account, second, click the orange button on the middle / right of the page that says ‘Manage publications’, third, select all your articles (click the box that says ‘select page’), then click the yellow button just above the list that says “Update using Web of Science Core Collection”. This will update the displayed citation counts for all of your articles, if the articles you have added manually are ‘matched’ in the Web of Science database, and if there is any additional data (citations) to retrieve to your account. You will see either text saying something like ‘your publications have been updated’, or ‘no updates are available’.

          How can you tell if articles in your ResearcherID profile are ‘matched’ ? When you ARE at your university, log in to your ResearcherID account. When you look at the list of articles, are the article titles hyperlinked? When you click on the hyperlinks, they should pop up the Web of Science listing for that article. That is the reason to do your searching / adding of articles for ResearcherID from a ‘logged in’ location, so you can be sure to retrieve the version of the article that will easily capture citation updates. (can you tell I’ve been doing this for a while?)

          If the articles in your ResearcherID account are NOT linked, I would recommend replacing them with versions you retrieve directly from Web of Science, so that they will get citation count updates. It’s the easiest way, trust me.

          Thanks for sharing the details of how this works. I had, as mentioned previously, one article that was added manually and that didn’t have citation statistics. As far as I remember, I ended up removing it and adding it via Web of Science when it appeared in there – but probably doing the above for the manually added version would have done the job, too.

          However, what if I work somewhere that doesn’t subscribe to Web of Science? You might not like Google Scholar because it is free and therefore only exists as long as Google deems it a valuable resource. I, on the other hand, don’t like to rely on paid services like Web of Science.

          The reason that Google Scholar is ‘faster’ is that it’s drawing on uncurated data. And really, the time difference between when an article is published and when it is available in a database (or exportable from the journal’s own website) is rarely more than a few weeks. Personally, I prefer a small wait time and good data over instantaneous access to crappy data.

          I don’t find that Google Scholar provides “crappy data” – quite the contrary; it is extremely useful for following what is happening in a field of research, including alerts for pre-prints on arXiv, and I get all of this essentially without any efforts. As mentioned previously, I’m well aware that citation statistics (h-indices etc.) on Google Scholar should be taken with a grain of salt, and that might bother you when the accuracy of these data is what you work with and focus on. However, you will have to take my word when I say that for someone who actually does research Google Scholar is a lot more useful than ResearcherID.

          You say you don’t care if you are relying on a service that may cease to exist tomorrow, and that may be, but the point of research profiles is that you are going to share them with others — potential employers, current employers, funders, colleagues. If they attempt to use a link to a service that disappears, do you think they are going to scour the internet for whatever service you end up migrating to in its place? I wouldn’t want to have to count on that, myself. These profile tools need to be somewhat reliably available or they aren’t really good for much, and the person whose convenience you have to think of is not so much you, as those who are going to want to reference that information. And I can tell you, when it comes to the internet usage patterns of people 10-20 years older than you, they are NOT likely to scour Google to find your profile if the first link you gave them is no good. They will shrug and think you fatfingered the link, and will just not bother to get to your profile.

          …But do you think that I would share the link for my Google Scholar profile with “potential employers, current employers, funders, colleagues” if the service didn’t exist? That is the premise in all of the above, and that is a flawed premise:-) Furthermore, have you taken a moment to look around on my homepage? As you can see, I – as well as more and more researchers – have an up-to-date overview of all my work and results here (including a link to my Google Scholar profile). So the whole discussion of me (and other researchers that use Google Scholar) as someone who forward links to sites that don’t provide accurate information on career track records doesn’t really make sense.

          By they way, I tried to search for your ResearcherID account, and I could not find it. ????

          What have you tried? It’s at the very top when I search for “Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson ResearcherID” on Google – but maybe you don’t use Google for searching on the internet either?;-) Also, I provide a link in the post above. And if none of it works, try here: http://www.researcherid.com/rid/I-2362-2012

          Reply
          1. Lori K Brown

            I searched ResearcherID for your name, from inside its interface. I find it odd that your name didn’t come up inside that search, and I didn’t bother to search Google at that point. Of course I use Google. The point I’m trying to make is one about persistence of services over TIME. You are presumably going to have career that could last for decades, and I am always being surprised how quickly the links that point to various resources break.

            The answer to the question of what to do if you are not employed someplace that supplies access to a paid database like Web of Knowledge is ORCiD. Get an ORCiD id. Start using it in all submissions, everyplace that takes them as part of the publication process. Within a couple of years, you will no longer need to search or add most publications (at least journal articles), because your ORCiD id will cause your articles to be automatically added to your profile. We aren’t there yet, but that is one of the promises of widespread implementation of ORCiD.

  2. Visvaldas Kairys

    Some publishers require for all co-authors to sign up for ORCID when you submit a manuscript… So it doesn’t matter what I think about it:)

    Reply
  3. Lori Brown

    I don’t know about publishers REQUIRING ORCiD, but as of today, here are the publishing companies that are in some stage of INTEGRATING ORCiD identifiers into their workflows, data, and publishing processes:

    AIP Publishing, Aries, Atlas, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, CABI, Cactus, Cambridge University Press, Copernicus, EDP Sciences, eJournal Press, eLife, Elsevier, Epistemio, F1000, Hindawi, IEEE, Infra-M Academic Publishing, IOP Publishing, Jnl Bone and Joint Surgery, Karger, Landes Bioscience, Nature, Oxford University Press, Peerage of Science, PLOS, PNAS, ProQuest, RNAi, Rockefeller University Press, ScienceOpen, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Wolters Kluwer

    Reply
  4. Mikael K. Elbæk

    Hi Jakob

    I think you raise an important problem with regards to ORCID – and that is how to communicated it to researchers. Disclosure I am the project coordinator of the national Danish ORCID consortium and the project manager of the implementation at DTU. Most researchers see ORCID as “yet another profile” – but it is really not. ORCID is part of the glue that will keep a research infrastructure that is Linked Open Data together. Today you articles have an unique ID (from arXiv or a DOI from the publishers) but the only thing that identify you as researcher is you name which isn’t particularly great at that (unless as it seems in your case you have a rather uncommon name 🙂 ). Google Scholar can only do what they does because they have enormous computing power and access to tons of data. However it is not transparent and it is proprietary – you can’t reuse their data or get access to the data below – do you really trust Googles citation counts? ResearcherID is likewise proprietary that is why it will never get a great uptake – because what competitor would be prepared to take up another competitors ID-scheme.

    What we are trying to promote is for researchers to get an ORCID that is open, non-profit, community-driven effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.

    If you use your ORCID when you submit your article we will automatically be informed at DTU when your article is published and the information about your article will automatically be updated in DTU Orbit – which will make your department happy, if not you 🙂

    Of course the benefits are not enormous for the single researcher right now. But we hope it eventual will have a great impact – that is why we promote it.

    And should someone in the future want to build up a service that could compete with Web of Science, Scopus and even Google Scholar the entry barrier would be mush lower than what is today – where all those service providers are proprietary and closed unless you have a big wallet.

    If that doesn’t convince you – probably research funders increasingly requiring ORCID in the application process will – like NNF in Denmark.

    Anyways it only takes you two minutes to get an ORCID – NB don’t spend time updating your ORCID profile yet unless you really feel like it – within this year we will present a service where you can automatically sync your ORCID profile with DTU Orbit. It is not suppose to be a profile that you update manually but a hub that integrates information from all sources that use ORCID.

    Hope you will give it a try – an get your ORCID! If so remember to register it in DTUBasen (either by getting your ORCID directly through your DTUBasen profile or by connecting your ORCID to your profile afterwards). Everything should be on this page http://www.dtu.dk/orcid – otherwise don’t hesitate to contact me – my twitter is @melbaek

    – Mikael K. Elbæk

    Reply
  5. Hans-Christian v. Bothmer

    I also like my Google Scholar Profile very much. Its not just less work, but also more fun…

    I think a good compromise would be for the OCRID account to collect the various other ID’s people might have, namely Google Scholar Profile number, MathSciNet Author identification, ArXiv identification, ResearcherID etc. This could be done without collaboration contracts and would really help to establish ORCID as a standard since one would be able to link the various databases by looking up the ORCID profile.

    For the moment I have approximated this by putting my Google Scholar and MathSciNet pages under “Webpages” on my OCRID page and have not uploaded my papers to OCRID.

    Reply
  6. Alex A

    When will ORCID feature citation tracking and when will it be possible to ‘rsync’ ORCID data [including citation data] to Scopus or RID [to hasten a painfully slow update of citations counts]. Currently, only the converse is possible. As far as customer service goes RID’s is excellent. Scopus’ customer service, on the other hand, is *Awful/Terrible* and utterly inefficient/incompetent. The majority of Scopus’ staff [the so called ‘content team’] is outsourced in India and the Philippines.

    Reply
  7. Craig

    This is a fascinating discussion, and some interesting points have been raised, but I would most like to know (speaking as a research administrator) what possible advantage there is for organisations to become members of ORCID? Individual ORCID numbers are free, but organisational membership is expensive. What is the advantage?

    Reply
  8. Zhenguang Cai

    One can always have a high moral aim but lousy technology – that is how I feel about ORCID. To be honest, I was forced to use it because my university required it and I have been quite happy with google scholar (and gmail and calendar and many many products to follow) whatever dirty cooperate motives it might eventually have (but so far so good!).

    Reply

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