AcWriMo: Researcher Identifiers and your Publication Profile

research idenif
[photo credit: PBednarz: CC BY-ND 2.0]

Nowadays, merely undertaking interesting research is not enough to build a successful career as a researcher; it’s also crucial in the competitive world of academia to be able to demonstrate the impact, influence and reach of your research. One way to do this is to publish your work and get it out to as many people as possible.

This post explores the benefits of setting up Researcher Identifiers to create an accessible online presence for your research outputs. They can also help you to track and measure the impact of your scholarly research publications.

If you are an academic, you are likely to have an online university profile. However, there are other researcher profile systems or researcher identifiers that can link your publications and create a unique scholarly identity. Some are open-access initiatives, others are linked to subscription citation databases, and increasingly the various systems are becoming interlinked.

Benefits of Researcher Identifiers
It’s well worth investing time to set up your researcher identifiers and online publication profile. They increase your online visibility and the chances of your research being read and cited. Researcher profiles can be browsed by other researchers, prospective research collaborators, students, journalists and funding bodies.

Researcher identifiers also distinguish you from other researchers through author disambiguation. When researchers have similar or identical names, it can be difficult for others to easily identify or attribute your work (see Melissa Terras’ blog post on the confusion of having someone else’s papers accidentally attributed to her). Some researchers change names during their careers, and author names may be displayed in varying formats in different publications and indexes. Researcher identifiers can be used to group all name variations that you may have published under and your affiliations with different institutions.

This isn’t just for the REF; you may be required to list your publishing ‘track record’ or ‘top 10’ publications as evidence of scholarly impact for academic tenure, promotion and funding applications. Gathering this information can be time-consuming if you do it manually. Researcher profiles and identifiers make it easy for you to compile a research impact report. It’s also quick to check who’s been citing your papers!

Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID)
ORCID is an open, non-profit and internationally recognised registry of unique researcher identifiers. It provides a method for linking your research activities and outputs using a 16-digit number to identify individual researchers in much the same way that ISBNs and DOIs identify individual books and articles. ORCID is discipline- and corporate-neutral and also interlinks other identifier systems.

ORCID identifiers are increasingly being used by journal publishers, funding bodies and university repositories to identify individual researchers. A number of journal submission systems now ask for ORCID identifiers. ORCID itself does not track citations, but it can be used with citation indexes.

ResearcherID (Thomson Reuters)
Thomson Reuters, producer of Web of Science, provides the free ResearcherID service which can be used even if your publications are not indexed in Web of Science.

With a ResearcherID you can build a biographical profile and an online publication list that’s not restricted to journal articles, but can also include patents, conference proceedings, grants and so on. The ResearcherID can provide citation counts for any of your Web of Science-indexed papers, and an ‘h-index’ is automatically calculated on these. ResearcherID profiles can be public or private, and there is an option to assign an ORCID at the same time.

When used within the Web of Science database, ResearcherID simplifies the process of compiling Author Citation Reports, h-indexes and other publication metrics, and provides greater accuracy. This can be handy when you need to gather research impact metrics quickly for that looming application deadline.

For more information on ResearcherID, see the website  (surrey login).

Scopus Author Identifier (Elsevier)
Scopus, (log in from Surrey library) another of the large subscription citation indexes, provides citation counts for the articles and authors published within the Scopus journal set.

Publications indexed in the Scopus citation database are automatically assigned Scopus Author Identifiers. If your publications are indexed in Scopus, you’ll be assigned an Identifier, which you can use to create your Citation Overview, calculate your ‘h-index’ and view other metrics for publications from 1996 onwards. To view author level metrics, use the Author Search, and from the results, click on an author’s name. Your Scopus Author ID can also be linked to your ORCID identifier.

It’s a good idea to check the accuracy of your Scopus Author profile on a regular basis, and ensure that you only have a single Identifier.

Learn more about Scopus Author Identifiers here.

Google Scholar Citations
Google Scholar Citations profiles assist in providing citation data from a variety of sources. Google Scholar indexes a broader range of publication types than the subscription citation databases; for example, it also includes working papers, government reports, theses and book chapters. A Google Scholar Citations profile will help you to keep track of who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and it will also calculate different citation metrics. We recommend that Google Scholar Citations profiles are made public (the default is private), so that they appear in Google Scholar results, which makes it easy for others to follow your work. As with other online identifiers, authors should check their Google Scholar Citations profile regularly to ensure correct assignment of publications.

For a great example, have a look at the Google Scholar Citations profile of Dr Dominique Hes from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture Building & Planning. Note the automatic compilation of Dominique’s publication metrics. We also like Dominique’s keywords for her areas of interest, which really help to increase findability.


  • You need to actively monitor your researcher profiles to keep them up-to-date and ensure that all your publications are included. A number of the publication lists are generated automatically, and we’ve sometimes seen incorrect publications assigned to authors, which skews the accuracy of automatically generated metrics.
  • Citation counts alone are not an indication of excellent research. They should be used with other qualitative measures.
  • No single tool can provide a comprehensive measurement of research publication impact. Tools providing citation analysis can only track the journals indexed within the individual database. This means that results obtained from the different citation tools are not comparable since their coverage varies. Similarly, these tools are not comprehensive listings of all global research publications: i.e., not all researchers publish in journals indexed by Web of Science or Scopus, and not all publications are indexed in Google Scholar.

 Further Reading