Two years ago we published a groundbreaking Featured Collection, “Forest Hydrology in China.” The issue introduced our readers to many authors who had not previously published in the English language. What I remember most, however, is spending the weekend before publication trying to untangle all the Sun’s, Wang’s, Liu’s, etc. in the cross-references. The problem is, Chinese names don’t always transliterate uniquely into English. (We ultimately had to include initials, which, thank heavens, worked in this case.) The experience left me wondering how to ensure our authors with foreign names receive proper credit for their publications in JAWRA.
That’s why I’m so excited about a new initiative brought to my attention by our publisher. The Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) initiative is dedicated to solving the name ambiguity problem in scholarly research. The principle is simple: Every researcher receives a unique identifier, and journals publish the id’s of all authors of an article. If everybody does this, building a researcher’s bibliography would be a piece of cake!
Ok, so it’s not really that simple! Privacy and free-speech issues come into play. And, maintaining a registry of all authors in the world is not exactly the easiest task. Legacy publications are yet another matter. But this is a start, and I will go on record as supporting ORCID.