Author: Martin Fenner

Disambiguation with ORCID at PLOS

Here at PLOS, linking authors and publications continues to be a persistent problem. Trying to find that one paper by “John Kim” that you wanted to reference? The prospect of wading through numerous “John Kim’s” can seem daunting. At PLOS ONE when searching for John Kim as an author you get four different results. Combing through search results and DOIs is not ideal. Throw ambiguous reviewer and academic editor identities into the mix and things only get worse.

Enter Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID). ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized. The ORCID service launched in October 2012, and to date more than half a million researchers have registered for an ORCID identifier. During that time, a number of integrations were launched that supported the visibility and adoption of ORCID identifiers by the community, and we at PLOS are proud to be a platinum sponsor of ORCID and one of the more than 100 organizations who have become ORCID members.


ORCID integration chart at

Integration with the ORCID service can happen in a variety of ways, and that of course depends on the type of organization, e.g. publisher, academic institution or funder. As a publisher, the following integrations are important at PLOS:

  1. allow authors to provide their ORCID identifier when they submit a manuscript;
  2. allow authors and other contributors to link their ORCID identifier to their PLOS profile page;
  3. include the ORCID identifiers for authors in the manuscript metadata sent to services such as CrossRef and PubMed;
  4. import and verify the authorship claims made by authors in their ORCID profile for already published PLOS papers (and again send this information to CrossRef and PubMed);
  5. import other information from the ORCID service into the PLOS profile such as affiliation, publications and other research outputs not published with PLOS, and grant information.

In September 2013 PLOS announced integration #1 allowing authors to include their ORCID identifier with manuscript submissions. Today we are happy to announce integration #2, allowing everyone with a PLOS account to link their account to their ORCID identifier. This is done via the OAuth protocol and works via a three-step authentication process:

  • First, we (PLOS) authenticate ourselves with ORCID
  • Second, you (the user) authenticate yourself with ORCID, and grant PLOS the authority to read data from your ORCID profile on your behalf.
  • Finally, PLOS queries ORCID for metadata about you (the user).


Authenticating with ORCID and allowing PLOS to read profile information. 

At any point in time our users will have the authority to revoke this access by de-linking their PLOS account from the ORCID service, again via OAuth.


PLOS account with linked ORCID identifier. 

Linking the PLOS account with the ORCID identifier is a very important integration step and we encourage all users to update their accounts. And if you don’t have an ORCID ID yet, you can easily create an ORCID ID in the process.

As you can see from the list of needed integrations above, there is still a lot of work to do. Not only do we have to encourage everyone to add their ORCID ID, but we also have to exchange this information with external services. It is not enough that PLOS knows what ORCID identifiers are associated with what PLOS publications, but this information has to be shared with external services such as CrossRef, PubMed, commercial indexing services such as Web of Science and Scopus, and of course ORCID. Additionally, PLOS wants to know about the authorship claims to PLOS papers made in other places, e.g. the ORCID registry.

As of last Friday, there were 551,203 live ORCID IDs, but ONLY 121,529 ORCID IDs with at least one linked work (e.g. publication). Do your part : The more works that are linked  to ORCID IDs, the more rich the ORCID profiles (associated publications, affiliation and (coming soon) grants) and assurance that you are recognized for your hard work and successful disambiguation.

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