Problems with ORCID, or 10 reasons why I don't have an ORCID number

Frank Ritter (frank.ritter@psu.edu), 16 jun 19, written while working with a journal that required ORCID-- it only took 4 hours to format a ready paper to submit to them.

 

I was reading about ORCID. I was required to have it to submit a paper, so I found a co-author to submit it. I've turned down being an editor in chief because it required me to get an ORCID number (from a for-profit publisher). I have been an associate editor at an IEEE and another journal based on a respected society without an ORCID number. I claim a religious exemption below after noting why.

from a web site: Dr M Barnish says: I am yet to be persuaded by this. It is another example of depersonalisation whereby we become a sequence of not very memorable numbers. With most names, if the name is written clearly and consistently within a field and with institutional affiliations, there is little risk of confusion. In the current climate of trying to combat guest and ghost authorship, I find it dishonest to allow people to publish under different surnames, as well as showing real issues about equality in our society. I think academia should require for the sake of transparency and integrity that academics publish under the name that is the same as on their degree (and ideally birth) certificates, so we can be sure they are not imposters. There is a lot of focus on plagiarism but little on impersonation.

I looked at "Ten things you need to know about ORCID right now"

In the preamble:

Have you ever tried to search for an author, only to discover that he shares a name with 113 other researchers? Or realized that Google Scholar stopped tracking citations to your work after you took your spouse’s surname a few years back?

No, I have not tried to search for an author only to discover that they share a name with 113 other researchers. I also use their affiliation. As for Google, I created an account and use that to link my publications. GoogleScholar would work perfectly if you managed your page with them (which you should do because it tends to get lost, and would still get lost if you 'accidently forgot to put your number on', or someone appeared to forget to put a number on, but, managing takes an hour a year or more).

 

"The ten things to know about ORCID" also sounded like they could be not just advantages, but disadvantages.

Levy (1970) noted that without discussion or dissent there is uncritical thinking. The proponents for ORCID appear to be provide only one-sided arguments for it, and no nuance. They appear to be mindless. This raises suspicions about why and how ORCID is needed and how it will be used. It looks like it will only complicate scholarly publication, and fix problems that can be solved by others with their own due diligence.

 

1. ORCIDs protects your unique scholarly identity

Generally, I'd like people to know where I am and who I am. and what I do. As the character Number 2 said, "I am not a number, I am a free man." People doing their job also protect my scholarly identity.

Brian Wilson and Martin Fenner (https://er.educause.edu/articles/2012/5/open-researcher--contributor-id-orcid-solving-the-name-ambiguity-problem) note:

Author name ambiguity creates problems for everyone involved in scholarly communication. For universities and colleges, it means that there is no easy way to identify the publications and other scholarly works of their faculty and students—information they need for their institutional repositories, for expert discovery, for research assessment, and for other reporting purposes. Universities and colleges have several options to obtain this information: they can use library and administrative staff to collect this information, they can ask their researchers to regularly report their publications and other scholarly works, and they can obtain this information from a commercial service. Most institutions use a mix of these strategies, but a lot of information will simply be unavailable because it would require too large an effort. This means institutional repositories that are incomplete, researchers who are unaware of potential collaborators in their institution, and scholarly activities that go unnoticed.

There are numerous incorrect statements in this statement. Name ambiguity does not create a problems for everyone involved -- unless I am not involved, and I am. It has not created problems for my students, who I would like to have included as part of the university. There is indeed no easy way to identify the publications and other scholarly works of a university's faculty and students. Period, full stop. You really have to talk with them, read the papers, and read their other papers to understand what scholarly work was done at a university and what was done by a collaborator, and what they were a major contributor to and which publications were not justified as their major work. This understanding does take effort, and takes some sense about who is involved and who is not. Will this movement also require ORCID id's for folks in the acknowledgements? For funders, for previous cited works? My institution does not keep an institutional repository, it has to have folks note what if they wish to be used or seen as experts in what fields, we have seen the problems and warping effects of resarch assesment, and other reporting purposes is too vague to take seriously. If the information is unavailable because it takes too large of an effort, perhaps it is not worthwhile to have? Or, it is too nuanced to automate? Institutional repositories are already noted as not existing (nor does it feel worthwhile), and researchers who would use an ORCID number to find collaborators are using a much much weaker tool than google and google scholar, which already exists. The amount of hyperbole in this paragraph suggests that there is something else driving this process, and I am thus skeptical of this process.

2. Creating an ORCID identifier takes 30 seconds

This reminds me of a social security number.

Going into this seems like it solves someone elses' problem, not mine. I know who I cite and I know who I work with.

Oh, and you get a password that you are supposed to protect. if you are protecting it, it is something that is valuable, but you did not pay for it. so, it must be your privacy that you are paying with, and time on the backend.

And, now you have yet another web platform to manage that you don't own. By manage, they mean keep your password safe and update your profile periodically.

So, while it takes 30 seconds to get (The Royal Society says, 1 min.), it looks like it takes 30 seconds to get and an 3600 seconds to maintain and 100 seconds/use, so this predicted time to obtain the ORCID number is not wrong, just deeply and deliberately misleading with respect to time. Also, the royal society in this case, is by someone who is also the Director of Community Engagement & Support for ORCID. [https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/01/07/why-some-publishers-are-requiring-orcid-ids-for-authors-an-interview-with-stuart-taylor-the-royal-society/]

They will want you to tie the number to your publications. I have over 100. If I don't, I won't be 'getting credit' for my publications. Oh, and my grants, and places of work.

Their site requires certain browsers, so you should also do that.

So, while you can get it in 30 seconds, it will take hours for you to do their work for them of building their database connections.

3. ORCID is getting big fast

at the rate in 2014 "growing every day", it now has 500k/year. so now they have over 2.5M people with numbers.

Most academics do not have an ORCID id, and most that I talk to have not heard of it. For profit publishers do and people who work for for-profit publishers do.

4. ORCID lasts longer than your email address

The people pushing ORCID appear to be greatly supported (but not exclusively) by for-profit publishers. They want more manuscripts, and thus perhaps have created a problem for themselves.

Does it really last longer? who will I have to pay, or who will monitor my traffic? My SSN also lasts longer than an email, but I'm not trading it about.

5. ORCID supports 37 types of “works,” from articles to dance performances

There are more than that number of works, and there is thus some bean counter trying to find all types of work. This reminds me of Activity Insight which is crap, but Penn State wants to use it to count productivity rather than read and understand the ouput. It also reminds me of the ontololgy in Endnote, which is not bad but the ontology breaks down all the time and but can be worked around. With the mindset in this article, I suspect that the 37 kinds cannot be extended or worked around when necessary. I have on my CV an "invited product review mispublished as a letter to the editor". Is that one of the 37? Is there a "conference paper accepted but accidently left out of the proceedings"? (and I flew to Australia to give the paper!).

6. You control who views your ORCID information

I have done so already by not having one.

But, what if after publication I wish to advertise a paper less. Say I published a chapter with a for-profit publisher and found that the process left the paper much worse off. With ORCID, it looks like I'm stuck with that paper being euqal to all other papers. Currently, I just don't note it very often.

And, what if I do not want an ORCID id? it looks like that I do not control who views it if journals require it.

What if I would like to retire my number? Do I control that?

7. ORCID is glue for all your research services

"And new services are connecting to ORCID every day," so, taking a minimum approach, since 2014 there have been over 1200 services added. I suspect not. This type of hype seems to smell funny.

But, I don't see a need to glue my research services together. They seem quite fine as they are.

8. Journals, funders & institutions are moving to ORCID

This reminds me of the student ID I purchased when I was a student, and the faculty ID I was required to purchase when I was a Fulbright Scholar. It was sold by a "student travel" agency in Ireland. In the student case, the only people who required that student ID was the folks who sold it! All other groups took my university ID. For the faculty ID, which came from the same fine folks with my Fulbright and travel support, it came a as a make-your-own kit where you put a picture in it and used an iron to seal it. My airline literally laughed it. The journals moving to use ORCID seem like the predatory publishers who started it.

Get credit for your work! they note. I already do. the folks requiring it now are for profit publishers.

9. When everyone has an ORCID identifier, scholarship gets better

"How many hours have you wasted by filling in your address, employment history, collaborator names and affiliations, etc when applying for grants or submitting manuscripts?"

simply, none. I don't have to do this. A solution that advertises to fix a problem I don't have seems like snake oil. And, when I do apply for a grant, I choose what of my experience to note, which varies by proposal.

10. ORCID is open source, open data, and community-driven

"ORCID is a community-driven organization. You can help shape its development by adding and voting for ideas on ORCID’s feedback forum.

It’s also Open by design. ORCID is an open source web-app that allows other web-apps to use its open API and mine its open data. (We actually use ORCID’s open API to easily import information into your Impactstory profile.) Openness like ORCID’s supports innovation and transparency, and can keep us from focusing myopically on limited publication types or single indicators of impact.

While you can share, they also mention that their databases can be mined. As we learn repeated and dolefully, if you are not paying for it, you are part of the product.

And, it looks like your university has to pay to provide these. Not a large amount, just $5000. Across the US's 2000 colleage and universities this is only 10,000,000 (!) per year.or, over $5/number plus maintenance.

11. There are other solutions

If the problem is unique names, then the folks without unique names could make their own. Like David Cranfield Smith, or Yu April Apple Yan. Jon King Wong. Or, David Cranfield Smith@apple.com

Can I have two please?

12. Unintended consequences

ORCID is really an attempt to make a primary key for databases. This supports a wide range of activities, mostly benign. But, it will support a wide range of activities, and will obtain most of the ills that SSNs and driver license numbers lead to because they CAN be used, so why not use them? There is no protection from, as far as I can see, a US agency from using these numbers as a primary or secondary key, to, for example, track who publishes inappropriate literature. Or cite malcontents. Or create dossiers of your work, even work you no longer think is relevant for a particular position, diluting the work that is according to the author's perspective.

Also, you can get less credit with ORCID. Here's how: With ORCID the papers can be sorted by university. for example, https://koreauniv.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/... As you can see, the authors' names are not noted, but the university is. We can see where the authors are located from the URL, but not who the authors are.

Also, as I look at the use of this, the tie to ORCID helps for-profit publishers to find you and your papers on the net. And, then haul the papers down and put them behind pay walls. So, you will get less credit unless someone pays.

So, it is for publications (only)? Already on their web site is the use of ORCID for tracking other outputs and for other uses. It will not be used solely for publications.

 

At this point I would claim a religious, and personal privacy objection. It is an attempt to provide a universal identifier to support both appropriate and inappropriate tracking.

 

References

Levy, M. J. (1970). Levy's nine laws of the disillusionment of the true liberal. Sociological Inquiry, 40(Winter), 111.