Identifiers for registering research results

It is important for institutions to determine who produces research results, open access or otherwise, and what they are. This is determined by using persistent identifiers - unique labels that refer to a digital object. As part of this project, SURFmarket is conducting a pilot project to promote the implementation of the author identifier ORCID.

Identifiers for recording research information

It is vital for institutions to know exactly who has produced research results and what they are. Institutions usually record this type of ' research information’ in a Current Research Information System (CRIS).

To ensure that research information is accurately recorded in a system, for instance, it is important to ensure that a publication is attributed to the right department and the right person at an institution, both nationally and internationally. Even though this may sound easy, the opposite is true. To ensure that this is carried out in the correct manner, identifiers are used - unique labels that refer to a digital object.

Separate registration of author and institution names

The problem when registering research results is that author and institution names are neither unique nor permanent. This a problem for people's names, when creating a complete publication list for 'Sanne de Jong' for example (or Jan Jansen, or Yu Wang). Who, among the many Sanne de Jongs, is the right Sanne de Jong? This illustrates why author and institution names should be registered separately and why a standard is necessary.

The DAI as the national standard

In the Netherlands we have already found a national solution for the registration problem - the Digital Author Identifier ( the DAI). Individuals are assigned a unique number, which is similar to a Citizen Service Number for Researchers. A complete list of publications by one individual can therefore be found using a specific number. However, the DAI is only used in the Netherlands and research obviously is an international affair.

International standards, ORCID and ISNI

International developments have taken place in recent years. The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) and the Open Researchers and Contributor ID (ORCID) have been presented as two international alternatives for the DAI.

  • The ISNI has been designed for a wide group of people who produce 'works', which could be research, but also music, theatre and art. ISNI focuses mainly on integrating existing databases such as the NTA. This means that it has a strong affiliation with the world of libraries given that this sector originally managed high-quality source files of this nature.
  • ORCID focuses specifically on academic authors and is based on direct self-registration using what is known as an 'author claim'. ORCID enables authors to keep a public profile together with a summary of results. Due to the low-threshold application procedure, ORCID is popular among researchers.


ORCID pilot project

The DAI has been managed by the national DAI working group for several years. In 2015 the working group and SURFmarket jointly drew up a memorandum on the future of author identifiers in the Netherlands. The memorandum provides a detailed overview of the current status, recent developments and concludes with nine recommendations on how to proceed. The recommendations included launching a pilot project for the implementation and use of ORCID coordinated by SURFmarket. The pilot commenced at the end of 2015. The lessons learned from the pilot implementing ORCID will be made available in 2016. They include an outline scenario on how a potential national solution could be applied in the Netherlands.


Start date
01 Jan 2015
Latest modifications 20 Apr 2017