ORCID: The number that every academic needs

ORCID logo.

Do you have your ORCID identifier yet? You might not even know what that is. But if you’re a researcher or academic, or planning to become one, you’re going to need one.

The Open Researcher and Contributor identifier—or ORCID—easily connects a researcher to his or her research output and allows others to access and share that body of work. ORCID streamlines publication submission and enhances discoverability. And, increasingly, granting bodies are requiring the ORCID as part of their application process.

“I tell my students it’s the social security number for a scientist,” says Denis Fourches, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and a resident member of the Bioinformatics Research Center. “Then I show them an example of it that not only facilitates your life, but also the compilation of all the papers you reviewed, the compilation of all the papers you published, the compilation of all the presentations you gave at conferences.”

“‘Want that done automatically?’ I ask. And they say ‘Yeah, I like that.’”

ORCID itself is a nonprofit that draws upon a global community of researchers, students, publishers, funders, professional associations, and others in the research realm. Several ORCID ambassadors at the NCSU Libraries want to help faculty, students, and staff at NC State join that community and to ensure that their research and professional activities are better recognized.

The ORCID is a unique, 16-digit, ISO-compatible number. Once you register for free, you can then add information to your ORCID record (some of which will be automatically populated), and link your record to other identifier systems and profiles you might already have such as Scopus, ResearcherID, DataCite, or LinkedIn.

You can link to your ORCID on your website and use it to submit to publications and apply for grants. ORCID automatically connects to an academic’s other profiles and updates itself with each new publication. So instead of the tedium of duplicate entries, or having to maintain multiple profiles, ORCID saves researchers time and avoids inconsistencies by enabling that information to flow between different systems with minimal effort.

Currently adopted more widely across Europe, with over 4 million researchers listed worldwide, ORCID is quickly catching up in North American institutions. Although NC State is not yet an official “ORCID institution,” over 650 NCSU faculty, students, and staff have publications listed on ORCID. Campus ORCID users have tripled in the last year, and departments including Physics, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS), Chemistry, Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE), Libraries, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), and Nuclear Engineering have over 20 profiles listed. Also, 23% of the ORCID authors at NC State are staff, 32% are students, 45% are faculty. This speaks to the range and universality of the platform.

Even though ORCID automatically discovers a lot of your information, you still have to sign up to use it. Increasingly, academic libraries are advocating for signups across their campuses. “At my old university, we got quite a lot of emails from the library,” says Katharina Stapelmann, an Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering. “They wanted to connect our research from the university with the ORCID to make it easier to keep the scholarly repository up to date, so they connected it.”

“In the beginning, they just asked to do it, and then they were asking and asking and asking. I was one of the first who did it, and it’s really easy. So now, every time I have a new publication, my ORCID profile is updated automatically… It’s magic!”

Major academic publishers such as Wiley require an author’s ORCID as part of their submission process. This enables them to instantly update an author’s ORCID record upon the moment of publication of their work.

“It’s in every single paper I’ve submitted definitely in at least the last year,” says Chemistry professor Felix Castellano. “Every single publisher has asked for that information. So, it’s getting kind of universally adopted, I think.”

Publications are one thing; grant money is another. “With the funding agencies, you want to make sure all that information is accurate,” Castellano adds. “As long as you're submitting stuff to [governmental agencies like] DOE or to DOD—and I know that I’m not the only one around here doing that—the ORCID is required. And you don't ever want to give people reasons not to fund you.”

The NCSU Libraries is taking a lead in exploring and evaluating ORCID functionality at NC State. We would like to hear from the NC State community on how authors are using ORCID to improve their workflows.