UoL Library Blog

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Author identification

Posted by knockels on 6 April, 2009

If I had written a lot of papers, people wouldn’t have too much trouble disambiguating me.   There are not too many K. Nockels about.  Granted, I could appear in databases as Nockels K; Nockels KH; Nockels, Keith; Nockels, Keith H. but the problem is far greater if you want work by one specific Smith J, who might also appear as Smith JA. 

A recent piece in Science discusses this.   How can authors be disambiguated?   How can you tell that this Smith J is the same as that Smith JA?   Thomson Scientific’s ResearcherID is one solution, where you register and receive a number.     You then add references to your papers to your ResearcherID profile, by searching for them in Web of Science, or importing them as a file from EndNote or RefWorks (this was very good for me, as most of my publications are not in journals that are indexed in Web of Science).   You can register for ResearcherID if you have access to Web of Science or if someone invites you.    I am not clear that your ResearcherID information is fed into any other database, and if that is right, the only way to tell if a paper is by the person you are interested in is to search the ResearcherID database itself and hope that they have listed that paper as one of theirs.

Then there are disambiguation algorithms, as used by Web of Science.   Other schemes include a national ID scheme, as you find in the Netherlands, where there is a national network of repositories, the scheme being developed by people like the NIH, and the Scholar Universe Author Resolver (this links to RefWorks – thanks to my colleague Evelyn Cornell for mentioning this to me).

A possible problem is that one person will end up with multiple identifiers, or that something of theirs will not be linked to them because it depends on them to make the link.   

The problems of disambiguation are well known to any librarian and the Science piece discusses some of them.   Whether any of this will be a solution remains to be seen – I wonder if a partial solution is all we can hope for, and if so, how much of an advance this is on the present ambiguous situation.

2 Responses to “Author identification”

  1. I must say, having done some disambiguation work in my recent bibliometric study – it ain’t easy!

    • knockels said

      I agree absolutely – and then there are all the problems caused by the way that authors, journals and databases treat address information…

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