Increasingly, ORCID, DOIs and other identifier systems that are open and community-governed are embedded in scholarly works and information systems, such as papers and citation indices. They could benefit research in many more ways than their current use in unambiguously tracking authors and published output.
Take, for example, the manuscript-submission process. Authors must create a journal account, review submission requirements and upload their manuscript, which probably contains links to other important information. Journals need to find unconflicted reviewers. Payment contacts for open access might be required. By using persistent identifiers, most of the manual processes in this workflow can be semi-automated (see go.nature.com/2lnqibu). Expertise should not be wasted on mundane administrative tasks.
Identifiers can also act as signposts and coordinates, guiding us to information sources and showing connections between research and researchers. They can increase the visibility of a study, its origins and its impact, and indicate where it is hosted and who to ask for access. Contributors, peer reviewers and supporting materials can all be linked to the published article.
An important feature of identifiers is that they afford a wider understanding of the research landscape that does not compromise privacy or ‘ownership’ of the research itself — pertinent, for example, when the work is ongoing, personal or competitive.
Nature 558, 372 (2018)
Competing Financial Interests
Alice Meadows, Josh Brown and Laure Haak work for ORCID, one of the persistent identifiers mentioned in the Correspondence.