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Researcher #profilefatigue – what it is and why it’s exhausting!

Image credit: Arallyn, Flickr, CC BY
Image credit: Arallyn, Flickr, CC BY

Most of us, whether we are researchers or not, can intuitively grasp what “profile fatigue” is. For those who are thus afflicted, we don’t recommend the pictured Bromo Soda, even though it’s for brain fatigue. This is largely because it contained Bromide, which is chronically toxic and medications containing it were removed in the USA from 1975 (wow, fairly recent!).

Naturally, in the digital age, it’s important for researchers to have profiles and be associated with their work. Funding, citations and lots of other good career advancing benefits flow from this. And, it can be beneficial to showcase a broad range of output, so blogs, slide presentations, peer-reviewed publications, conference posters etc. are all fair game. It’s also best that a researcher’s work belongs uniquely to them, so profile systems need to solve for name disambiguation (no small undertaking!).

This is all well and good until you consider the number of profiles a researcher might have created at different sites already. To help us consider this, we put together this list.

Organization Status
ORCID Non-profit: independent, community driven
Google Scholar Search: Google
Researcher ID Publisher: Thomson Reuters
Scopus Author ID Publisher: Elsevier
Mendeley Publisher: Elsevier
Academia.edu Researcher Network: Academia.edu
ResearchGate Researcher Network: ResearchGate

The list shows that a researcher could have created (or have been assigned per SCOPUS) 7 “profiles” or more accurately, 7 online records of research contributions. That’s on top of those at their research institution and other organizations) and only one iD (helpfully shown in green at the top!) is run by an independent non-profit called ORCID.

Different from a profile, ORCID is a unique, persistent personal identifier a researcher uses as they publish, submit grants, upload datasets that connects them to information on other systems. But, not all other profile systems (sigh). Which leads us, once again, to the concept of “interoperability” which is one of the central arguments behind recent community disatissfaction over the new STM licenses which we have covered previously.

Put simply, if we all go off and do our own thing with licensing and profiling then we create more confusion and effort for researchers. Best to let organizations like Creative Commons and ORCID take care of making sure that everyone can play nicely in the sandbox (although they do appreciate community advocacy on these issues).

Interoperability is one good reason why ScienceOpen integrated our registration with ORCID and use their iD’s to provide researcher profiles on our site. We don’t do this because we think profiles are kinda neat, they are but they are also time consuming and tedious to prepare (especially 6 times!).

We did it because we are trying to improve peer-review which we believe should be done after publication by experts with at least 5 publications on their ORCID iD and we believe in minimizing researcher hassle. This is why our registration process is integrated with the creation of an ORCID iD, which could become pivotal for funders in the reaonably near future (so best for researchers to get on board with them now!).

So given that it seems likely that all researchers will need an ORCID iD (and boy it would be nice if they would get one by registering with us!), then what is also important is that all the sites listed in the above grid integrate with ORCID too and that hasn’t happened yet (you know who you are!). The others have done a nice job of integrating by all accounts.

In conclusion, publishers and other service providers need to remember that they serve the scientific community, not the other way around and this publisher would like to suggest that everyone in the grid please integrate with ORCID pronto!

14 thoughts on “Researcher #profilefatigue – what it is and why it’s exhausting!”

  1. Interoperability is a MUST, and that’s one thing that makes ORCID so great! It’s great that ScienceOpen, Thomson Reuters and Elsevier have made their profiles interoperable with ORCID to help with the fatigue (as we’ve also done at Impactstory).

    Good on you for calling out those who haven’t been very warm to the idea of opening up their data to help mitigate this problem! So many researchers have spent hours putting their pubs into RG and Academia.edu before ORCID came along; now it’s possible that they could auto-import data from publishers to their RG and Academia profiles via ORCID, but those platforms won’t allow it. It’s such a shame, and such a waste of researchers’ time!

  2. You forgot Google Scholar ID. For my money, ORCID has already won out against publisher IDs. I think that the researcher networks will come on board eventually. They have nothing to lose and a lot to gain if they do.

    Google Scholar is a different matter. It depends if Google wants to create a public ID for everyone and everything. At the moment, they haven’t gone down that path (and I am glad that they haven’t).

    On another matter, lets hear it for universities like Universidad Carlos III de Madrid who create an OpenID when they create a researcher ID for their staff. That’s great!

  3. I’m the Wikipedian in Residence at ORCID.

    Wikipedia has thousands of articles about researchers. It would be great to add their ORCIDs to those articles; we just need to know which they are.

    Any researchers who edit Wikipedia can add their ORCID to their user pages, too.

    1. Thanks Andy. Is there anything I can do to assist in this regard, or just want me to spread the word (your word)? Would I point researchers at this comment or something else?

      1. Thanks Elizabeth. Please spread the word, and point people to the page I linked to, which explains how to use ORCID in Wikipedia (in English and many other languages; and in its sister projects, such as Wikidata and Wikispecies) and which I’ll update when there’s news.

        If you need further information, or if anyone needs help, I can be contacted via that page, or my website, or as @Pigsonthewing on Twitter.

        1. No problem, it has been done. Just tweeted it now and linked it all up to you, ORCID and Wikipedia. Hopefully that will do some good!

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