In recent years, several organizations (publishers, arXiv, universities) started pushing for systems of a reliable author identification, gaining considerable traction with the recent launch of ORCID. This works by assigning IDs to persons. In some cases, the person itself can then connect his/her articles to the person ID. In other cases, publishers ask / want to ask for the ID upon manuscript submission.
- ORCID (supported among others by Spinger, Elsevier, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society, IEEE, Institute of Physics) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORCID
- ResearcherID by Thomson Reuters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ResearcherID
- Scopus Author ID http://www.info.sciverse.com/scopus/scopus-in-detail/tools/authoridentifier
There are some obvious advantages of a precise and machine-readable author identification. These pros are strongly advocated by the big organizations, which are of course very interested. But what about the cons? Before all researchers become obliged to using such IDs, we should discuss the cons and potential problems, and potentially voice our opinion on this issue.
I don't see a big killer-drawback right now, but somehow being tracked by some never-forgetting ID seems quite intrusive.
The biggest drawback might be a loss of privacy. Your research output could then be identified reliably and used for all sorts of data mining. Algorithmic rating of a researcher's output becomes very simple for anyone interested. People could study the "graph of your collaborators" etc.
Somehow I find it preferable to be able to "publish" my publication list myself, i.e., to keep this data in my control - at least to a certain extent. Persons are changing over time. Are you sure that you will still be proud of your last paper in 20 years time? In some extreme cases you might not want to include a certain article in your next grant/job application.
Perhaps this is a little paranoid, but still. What do you think and what are the biggest potential disadvantages?
Related texts: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2009/03/11/the-author-id-dilemma/ http://blogs.plos.org/mfenner/author-identifier-overview/