05 December 2013

Identifying poster authors: conference organizers, ask for ORCIDs!

I’m lucky. I have an unusual name. The only other Faulkes I know in biology is Chris Faulkes, who does research on mole rats. While I paid the price for having an unusual name in elementary school, I am now reaping a benefit: it’s easy to find my research online.

I feel for K.L. Smith. She told this on Story Collider:

I had just published my master’s thesis under my maiden name, ‘Smith.’ And I was looking in Web of Science to try to find my publication, but there were over 90,000 papers by K.L. Smith. So I was just lost.

I’m not an old fashioned person, I hadn’t wanted to change my last name, but I have to admit, when I was a kid, I used to dream of having an exotic last name, because I was kind of tired of getting lost in the sea of Smiths.

Things started to go well, and we were talking on OK Cupid, and I remember asking Zach what his last name was, and I was already kind of like falling for him, ‘cause I thought he was great, and he wrote back, and he was like, “My last name is ‘Weiner.’”

And I was like, “This is not what I had in mind.”

But anyway, so then I checked Web of Science to check how many Weiners there were, right? Because if you’re going to take that name, you don’t want to take that hit for nothing. ... But it turns out there’s a lot of Weiners out there. So taking the name Weiner wasn’t really going to help me out that much. It would cut a couple of thousand off, but yeah, I’m not going to take that hit for nothing. But there’s no Weinersmith – all one word. And so, and I thought that was really hilarious, actually, because I’m 12 inside.

And we decided to call ourselves the Weinersmiths for the sake of my career, but I wasn’t going down alone, so I took him down with me. So at that point we became the Weinersmiths.

Kelly’s story is a great example of why we need ORCID. For those who don’t have one yet (and you should get one), ORCID is sort of an author’s serial number. Its goal is to distinguish which of the 90,000 papers by K.L. Smith were written by Kelly Weinersmith, formerly Smith, who told the story above.

I am thankful to Mike Taylor, tweeted:

Academic conference organisers. Nearly 400,000 ORCIDs have been created in a year. Collect them. Use them. Please.

So far, I have yet to see a single conference that asks for my ORCID, even for conferences that intend to publish the abstracts. Conference abstracts are increasing becoming archived rather than being ephemeral, so it would be valuable to start connecting them to specific authors in a systematic way.

P.S.—If you are interested in the forum that Kelly told her story, become a patron of Story Collider!

External links

Two nerds fall in love (Name story starts at about 8 minutes in)

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