Hi, I'm A-5661-2009

Today in Science1 I was intrigued by this article: Are You Ready to Become a Number?

It is about an effort to create a type of digital object identifier for unique scientists.  It is both creepy and intriguing to me.  I understand the problem, of course.  Although my name isn’t among the most common, I’ve met several others with this name.  And the rate of scientific publishing these days is making it harder and harder to locate the authors that you want.  Disambiguation by software is not in place at this time, and is a tough problem.

The forerunner according to this article is ResearcherID.  But several others are under discussion or development–including NCBI and CrossRef.

The article addresses both the pros and cons around this.

Pros include:

  • identifying the right researchers
  • grant agencies tracking outcomes
  • universities following productivity
  • finding people for collaborations, networking, etc
  • language and character conversion issues

Cons include:

  • who wants to be a number, of course
  • run by a publisher, does this hold proprietary access and information issues?
  • voluntary…another wikification that I need to manage for myself…
  • who checks?
  • if open access, who funds and maintains this?
  • security and identity theft…?  In science your reputation is everything–you don’t want anyone else messing with that or claiming that.

I’m just remembering some fun stories in gene nomenclature.  Will there have to be a committee?  Will anyone threaten lawsuits if the name controversy heats up?  Will they make you change your name to conform to nomenclature guidelines???!!!@@  AAARRRGGHHHH….

So far it looks popular with bioinformatics folks.  I looked at the keyword cloud at ResearcherID and the biggest one was us.  That doesn’t surprise me.  But it did make me laugh.


1. Science 27 March 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5922, pp. 1662 – 1664 DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5922.1662

4 thoughts on “Hi, I'm A-5661-2009

  1. Paul Gardner

    Excellent. I’ve heard of researchers that have invented middle names to distinguish themselves from other productive researchers.

  2. Mary

    Yeah, actually, I have even had my own initial wrong on a paper I was on. We caught it in time, but would have been a nuisance later. And some papers that I contributed to the lead authors didn’t include the initial.

    I just tried to add my publications to the ResearcherID and it requires formats I don’t have. Sigh….Or it offers searches but doesn’t provide the links and I’m not sure I have access to the tools. Ah, the joys of curating for yourself….

  3. Rich Osborne

    What, is it April the 1st already?

    Seriously, this reductionism needs to be reigned in. This is life driven by the operation of computer architecture, rather than the other way around.

  4. Pingback: DNA robots? | The OpenHelix Blog

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