Thing 2: Identifiers

Tracking the citations that a research output generates can be a challenge. To track a research citation, we need to identify it. Persistent identifiers (PIDs) are widely used to do this. They enable connections and provide access to data and the resulting research. Identifiers also enable data, physical samples, and software to be a citable part of the scholarly record. This Thing describes how identifiers, such as ORCID and DOI, are used in research evaluation.  


Getting Started

Read this brief article Persistent Identifiers 101 by UCL Library to learn about the importance of PIDs.   

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier) provides researchers with a unique, 16-digit ID that they keep throughout their career to connect them with their research. ORCID iDs can be integrated in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, and support automated links between researchers and their professional activities ensuring their work is recognised.    

What is ORCID? by ORCID.org

Watch “What is ORCID” to learn how authors can distinguish themselves by connecting themselves and their works.  

Read about the benefits of ORCID iDs for researchers on the University College of Dublin’s ORCID page

Exercise: Go to your institution’s website and look for information regarding the use of ORCID iDs. What did you find? Are ORCID iDs mandated? If you did not find much information, how would you describe the advantages of ORCID iDs in relation to research impact? 

ResearcherID is an author identifier connected to the Web of Science database. Watch the video “Show your research impact with a Publons Profile” to get an idea of how it works. 

Consider: What are the benefits of using researcher identifiers and do the different identifiers have different benefits for researchers? Is an ORCID iD enough or should a researcher use several identifiers?  


Learn More

A wide range of persistent identifiers exist, not just for researchers but also for digital and physical objects, scientific instruments, projects, and activities. It is worth exploring the diversity of identifiers available, how they are used, and which groups use which identifiers.  

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is one of the most universally adopted identifiers.  

Read “The structure of a DOI” to find out how a DOI works. DOIs are not only assigned to journal articles, they can also be assigned to datasets, software, and other research outputs to enable linking between research outputs and related entities.  

Watch this video about Research Activity Identifiers (RAiD), which connects researchers, institutions, outputs, and tools. 

An International GeoSample Number (IGSN) can be used as a persistent identifier for physical objects and specimens. This is particularly useful for the disciplines of archaeology, biology, biomedicine and materials sciences. 

Consider: What are the benefits of object identifiers? How can they aid with discoverability and citation? Does your institution assign DOIs for theses or dissertations and what are the benefits? 


Challenge Me 

Read “Persistent identifiers: the building blocks of the research information infrastructure“.  

PIDapalooza, the Open Festival of Persistent Identifiers, explores challenges and issues in the area of PIDs.  

Exercise: Read through the following PID key themes from the 2019 festival, choose those of interest and consider the questions included in each theme.    

  • PIDs for emerging uses: Long-term identifiers are no longer just for digital objects. We have use cases for people, organisations, vocabulary terms, and more. Can you think of any additional use cases?     
  • Kinds of persistence: What are the frontiers of “persistence”? We hear lots about fraud prevention with identifiers for scientific reproducibility, but what about data papers promoting PIDs for long-term access to reliably improving objects (software, pre-prints, datasets) or live data feeds?   
  • PID myths: Are PIDs better in our minds than in reality? PID stands for Persistent IDentifier, but what does that mean and does such a thing exist?