I just learned about ORCID: the Open Researcher Contributor Identification initiative. Its goal is to provide a unique ID for every researcher, and in that way provide better traceability of all the work by a researcher. It should avoid ambiguity between authors with the same name and typos. They even intend to include not only ‘standard’ conference/journal publications, but also more ‘exotic’ research output like data sets, blog posts, etc. The initiative is supported by a large number of major publishers, like Springer, Elsevier and Nature.
A very nice initiative, which should get a few problems out of the world. However, I am not sure how that is supposed to work in practice. Does that mean that we should soon add an ORCID number (without typos) below the title and the author name? And cite works by citing the ORCID and the DOI (digital object identifier)? And will we write these numbers with less errors than the author names now?
It makes me indeed think of that other unique number: DOI, which was introduced to uniquely identify a document (publication, for as far as I have seen them). I’ve seen it for some time now when I look up articles, and I have no doubt it uniquely identifies those articles, but what is it used for? Maybe they have their use… but I haven’t seen it yet.
People who do know of practical cases where the DOI is used, feel free to comment! (others too, of course)