Names Project Blog


Posted in identifiers, meetings by Amanda Hill on 18 December, 2009

Park Street Church, Boston, MA

A Name Identifier Summit in Massachusetts in November brought together representatives of a variety of organisations with an interest in assigning unique identifiers to individuals involved in research. The impetus for the meeting came from Thomson Reuters and the Nature Publishing Group and from a growing realisation among publishers that the problems associated with unambiguous identification of people cannot be solved by individual commercial entities.

The new initiative, ORCID (which is very hard to type without an H, I find!) stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. The plan is to set up an independent, not-for-profit, organisation to oversee the development of a prototype system. This will be based on the ResearcherID technology and data that are going to be donated to the cause by Thomson Reuters. There is more information on the ORCID website (currently hosted by Thomson Reuters, but due to move to a separate domain shortly).

The Names project and the British Library are represented in the membership of this group and look forward to co-operating with the initiative in the coming months.


A flurry of author ID discussions

Posted in Discussions by Amanda Hill on 22 January, 2009

The issue of uniquely identifying researchers has been receiving a lot of attention in the past week. On Friday Chris Leonard described his vision for a unique author ID service at the PhysMath Central blog. On Tuesday Cameron Neylon posted about the possibility of having a specialist OpenID service for assigning unique identifiers to authors.* There is a lot of interesting follow-up discussion on this post at FriendFeed and a list of relevant resources on the OpenWetWare wiki. Both Andy Powell and Paul Walk have picked up on these items in recent posts. [Postscript: Thanks to Owen Stephens for pointing out that these discussions have been highlighted in a Times Higher Education article this week, too.]

Of course this discussion is all highly relevant and useful to us at the Names Project. We are currently developing a proposal for a continuation of the original Names Project, which would take the prototype we’ve been working on into a pilot authority system over the next two years. Funding permitting, this will allow us to investigate some of the suggestions that have been mooted in the discussions above.

*This was as a result of discussions following Björn Brembs’ presentation at the ScienceOnline09 conference on finding new ways of measuring the impact of researchers’ work.

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People Australia

Posted in meetings by Amanda Hill on 16 May, 2008

Mimas played host to Basil Dewhurst yesterday. Basil is the Resource Discovery Services manager for the National Library of Australia and is responsible for the People Australia project, which is operating in a similar sphere to the Names project. Basil hadn’t chosen the best day for a visit to Manchester, with inebriated and unhappy Rangers fans rampaging around the city centre on the night of his arrival. But Basil is from Sydney, where cricket fans are known to indulge in the occasional alcoholic beverage, so he took it all in his stride.

Aftermatch aftermath of the Rangers' fans' presence in Manchester

I joined Basil, Dan and Vic Lyte in a conference call yesterday to discuss areas of common interest. Basil was able to update us on the recent meeting in Bologna of the EAC Working Group, where the Encoded Archival Context name authority exchange standard was thoroughly analysed and re-written to bring it in line with ISAAR-CPF (the International Standard for Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families). People Australia’s core records will be held as EAC files, whereas for Names this is one of the output formats that the service would need to support, so the standard is an important one for both projects.

The issue of persistent identifiers was also discussed, as this is another area of significance to both projects. The National Library of Australia has its own persistent identifier resolver service and People Australia is also making use of UUIDs in the background. The Names project prototype is also using UUIDS as a quick (and free) way of generating unique identifiers for entities within the system, but this would be likely to be replaced in a production version of the service by another method: possibly the Handle system.

Picture from terry6082 Books on flickr

OR08 update

Posted in conferences by Amanda Hill on 3 April, 2008

OR08 Opening Session

The main conference tracks ended yesterday. It’s been an interesting conference for the Names project team. The issue of identifiers came up frequently, which was useful as this is something that we’re trying to decide upon right now. It’s also been useful to talk to repository managers and get to know how they see the name authority problem. Most of them expressed delight that we are working in this area, so expectations are high.

Last night I got to talk to Aarjen Hogeenaar and Wilko Steinhoff who work at KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), which was really useful as they’ve implemented Digital Author Identifiers for researchers in the Netherlands and have faced similar challenges to those we’re tackling. The NARCIS portal brings together information from Dutch universities and research institutes on individual researchers and on their research and publications.