October 24, 2022
edited October 25, 2022
What is the utility of an ORCID identifier? I'm not opposed to ORCID IDs being connected to author names in the Zotero database. However, linking a single author to a single ORCID ID has never been possible.
ORCID could be wonderful but there are a number of things that make it more problematic than helpful. I was early-on a member of ORCID working groups and my organization was an early supporter. Even within the Metadata Working Group there was great disagreement about the value of one-author-one-ID.
The problem I see is that there is no effort to have a one-author, one identifier policy.
I have a colleague who in 2014 had more than 5 different ORCID IDs under their name. This person submitted a new request for an identifier with each manuscript preparation. They provided no information about their university affiliation nor did they attach bibliographic information about their publications.
Because I am responsible for a bibliographic database that has a field for authors' ORCID IDs I know that there are umpteen authors that have published articles with different IDs.
We considered adding fields so that the author table would allow for more than one ORCID ID but couldn't decide on a limit. (We use the earliest publication's ID for the many times an author has multiple ORCID IDs. And, yes, sometimes that rule means that we change an author's ID when we find an earlier publication.)
I know of one author that publishes research under several versions of her name including the nicknames Betsy and Beth. Each of these different names has a different ORCID (but not VIAF) identifier. She publishes articles in her roles in more than one professional discipline and wants to keep the lists discrete. She also uses a slightly different name and different ORCID ID when she submits to conferences. She could do all of this under a single ORCID ID (because ORCID allows authors to list alternative names [e.g. before/after marriage]) but chooses not to unify.
Over the years, I've commented and made requests for some way to help with this issue but I've received replies that 1) ORCID was never intended as a disambiguation tool; and 2) EU privacy laws prohibit a rule that would compel an author to provide any uniquely identifying information.
If you have a relatively common name, do an ORCID search to see how many possible "you" listings there are without any affiliation listed. In my case, there are more than 15 (in addition to the 15 or so David Lawrences who have listed affiliations. In the case of the pseudonymous Adam Smith, there are about 50 unaffiliated names). You can find an author name from an ORCID ID with confidence. You cannot reliably obtain an ORCID ID with an author name search of the ORCID database.
As an indexer, this is quite frustrating. I try not to think about it lest I go a little crazy.
If the effort to include an ORCID ID with author names in Zotero is trivial, it makes sense to procede. However, this seems to make more complicated the practice of unifying multiple slightly different author names into the most complete name (to cope with APA, Chicago, etc.) name disambiguation rules.
edited to fix spelling and improve punctuation