Indian Journal of Rheumatology

: 2020  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 255--257

Introducing open researcher and contributor identifier and publons: The digital transformation

Sham Santhanam 
 Department of Rheumatology, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sham Santhanam
Glenegales Global Health City, Cheran Nagar, Perumbakkam, Sholinganallur, Chennai 600 100, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Santhanam S. Introducing open researcher and contributor identifier and publons: The digital transformation.Indian J Rheumatol 2020;15:255-257

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Santhanam S. Introducing open researcher and contributor identifier and publons: The digital transformation. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 20 ];15:255-257
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Scientific research and medical academic publishing has undergone a major transformation in the last couple of decades. It has evolved with digitization and open access model of publishing leading to wider accessibility and visibility of the scientific content and better dissemination of knowledge. In the last couple of decades, emergence of various online profiling platforms such as Research Gate, Scopus author identifiers (IDs), Academia. Edu and Google scholar citations have opened a new vista. Each of these have their own functionality, advantages, and disadvantages.[1] In this editorial, we have focused on two such scholarly profiling platforms, which has made a bigger impact, namely Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) and Publons.

ORCID was developed to address the author name ambiguity by creating a unique digital ID for individual authors. But now, due to its widespread acceptance and collaboration, ORCID serves like a “digital curriculum vitae” for a researcher.[1] Publons is a similar tool, which is directed toward recognizing and crediting the peer review activity. These online profiles are widely being used by the editors, academic institutions and funding agencies to keep a track of the scholarly information of the concerned researchers.[1]

ORCID, a not for profit, nonproprietary organization was launched in October, 2012. It works with various stakeholders around the globe, including funding agencies, research organizations, publishers, and others involved in scientific communication.[1] In academic publishing, one major source of confusion may be due to the fact that researchers come from various parts of the world with a variety of names. The names in western countries may have three parts (given name, middle name, and surname/family name) unlike in India where names usually have two parts (given name and family name). In North India, many authors share similar family names (e.g.,: Sharma, Aggarwal), unlike in South where people use only initials before their given names. ORCID resolves this by providing an unique digital ID for each author.[2]

An author's ORCID ID is in the form of a Uniform Record Locators (URLs) or in short as an unique 16 digit number.[3] For example, the ORCID ID of this author is (URL) or in short as 16 digit number (0000-0002-3672-9245). By using this ORCID id, all my scientific work is correctly attributed to me for life irrespective of my geographical location. This is similar to Digital Object IDs issued by Cross Ref for all scholarly articles, which has made retrieval of articles easier. With Cross Ref importing data from ORCID, the functionality of both has been enhanced.[3]

Creating an ORCID ID is free and done easily by visiting the ORCID website ( Then, the author has the option of updating all his scholarly work (publications, book chapters, abstract, images, and data sets). Other details such as employment, educational qualifications, invited positions, distinctions, funding, and membership can also be included.[4] By registering with ORCID, data can be manually added or can be imported and exported from various databases. As it is integrated with various other systems such as for manuscript submission and grant applications, it acts as an interface between editors– authors, referees– authors and funding agencies– researchers.[4]

The primary advantages of ORCID are, therefore, elimination of author name ambiguities, being free and user friendly, streamlining of submissions, getting integrated into various components of research workflow, and provision of an unique professional profile to connect with other researchers/editors. By integrating an updated ORCID profile with other research systems, one can avoid repeated data entry. However, there are some disadvantages including, inability to attach publications and datasets, challenge of updating the profile regularly, monopolization of manuscript submission (with mandatory ORCID id submission) and lack of citation metrics.[4],[5]

ORCID definitely lives up to its tag line– “connecting research and researchers.” As of June 2020, 8,958,653 live ORCID IDs and 1150 member organizations were registered. The ORCID initiative supports multiple languages and hence better international visibility for researchers even from non-English speaking countries.[4]

Peer review is currently the best method available for critical analysis of research data, though criticized for bias, abuse and slowness. Peer review is a specialized work which needs time and thorough knowledge about the subject, scientific writing, statistical analyses, and publication ethics.[6] Good reviewers act as “gatekeepers” of scientific publication and help out in publishing high-quality articles, which in turn improves the journal's impact. However, to identify and develop a pool of skilled reviewers is the challenging part for any journal or editor. There is no formal training available for being a reviewer. One has to learn the art by themselves or from their mentors and peers.[6] Usually, the reviewers do not get credits for their skilled and time consuming voluntary work, which is forgotten after acceptance and publication of a manuscript.

To make peer reviewing attractive to researchers existing reward systems are for the obvious reasons nonfinancial including certificates, certain privileges in publishing, getting included in the editorial team, providing access to journal's content or books at a concession rate or by providing Continuing Medical Education credits. In this background, Publons were launched in 2013 to register the activities of referees and to credit their work.[6],[7]

Publons are an automated profile which maintain a record of peer reviews, publications, citation metrics, and journal editing.[1] It has over 2,000,000 researchers currently ( and an unique Researcher ID is added to the publications (claimed from Web of Science). It can be linked to other platforms such as ORCID, Linkedin, Facebook, and Google accounts.[8] One can generate a Publons CV similar to ORCID, summarizing one's contributions and the resulting impact as a peer reviewer, author or editor. Peer review is no exception to misconducts. Some authors may suggest peer reviewer names with false E-mail addresses which can be manipulated by themselves. Publons potentially helps in curtailing the peer review malpractices by keeping a track of the reviewing records and citation data of reviewers.[6],[9]

After registering in Publon, details of the reviews (pre/post publication and name of the journal) and publications can be added manually or automatically. In many electronic manuscript processing systems (such as scholar one), once a reviewer accepts to review a manuscript he will be given the option to choose, for including the particular review in Publons. Those details will be displayed in Publons; however, accessibility to the review content is dependent on the journal's policy. Researchers are provided with unique IDs. Global peer review awards are given annually to top 1% of reviewers by Publons.[7],[9]

In addition, Publons Academy ( provides a free peer reviewing course for researchers who are in the initial stages of their career. On completing the modules, one need to submit 2 pre/post publication reviews which are evaluated by a mentor. On successful completion of the modules, one gets a Publon peer review academy certificate and will also have the option of volunteering to act as a reviewer for Publons linked journals.[9]

Indian Journal of Rheumatology (IJR) has an option of adding the ORCID ID during manuscript submission (Journal on web), though not mandatory as yet. In the IJR, we acknowledge the peer review activity by publishing the name list of reviewers annually. [Figure 1] depicts how ORCID and Publons helps in facilitating the scholarly networking between the main stakeholders involved in scientific publication.{Figure 1}

To conclude, both ORCID and Publons are great initiatives which have been accepted widely by the scientific community to tackle author name ambiguity and to recognize the contribution of peer reviewers. It is time for everyone as authors and researchers to have a ORCID and Publons account, which will enable them to get due recognition and credit for their scholarly activities.


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