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ORCID: Encouraging Wits academics and PhD students to register

Ours is a complicated world with many moving parts. The internet has given us unbelievable access to information, but it has also contributed to this complexity and the speed at which things move.

The academy is not exempt from this complexity, but it probably is best placed to turn it to an advantage. However, it is important to ensure that the complexity does not interfere with the scholarly messages that need to be communicated. One question that arises in this context is how an author, who wants to communicate with his or her readers, can ensure that all his or her digital work is searchable and not lost in cyber space? The answer is ORCID.

ORCID, or the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, is a non-proprietary identifier that uniquely collates an author’s published works. This 16 bit identifier pulls together the array of personal names that get attached to your publications, e.g., R Drennan, Robin Drennan, Rob Drennan. This has particular value for authors that may change their names (possibly due to marriage) and have cultural differences in name order. “It provides a persistent identity for humans, similar to that created for content-related entities on digital networks by digital object identifiers (DOIs).” (

In the Wits strategy to help academics grow their scholarly profile, we have encouraged people to do four things using the internet. These include registering an ORCID and establishing a public Google Scholar profile. We also recommend that academics use one of the academic social platforms, like ResearchGate, to create an active presence on the web. Finally, we recommend that academics use the Wits repository to display their work. The Library will help you navigate the copyright issues related to the use of the Wits Repository.

The use of ORCIDs is growing in popularity. In April 2017 there were just more than 3 200 000 ORCID users, and more and more publisher, funders and universities are encouraging the use of identifier for various reasons. Wits University encourages it as it will be used to create a staff profile showing all published work of an author on the Wits webpage. The NRF requires applicants to use an ORCID that will ultimate assist in writing reports as it will pull together all the publications of the applicant into the report. Wits University Press encourage it as it helps them ensure their publications are searchable.

Please register for an ORCID. If you need assistance please contact the Research Office or the Library.

Additional information for researchers and staff is available on the Intranet.

Additional Resources and How-To Guides