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Free for Everyone, Always: The ORCID Public API and Data File

Fri, 11 Jan 2019 - 04:38 UTC

As part of our commitment to openness, we have a public API that is available for community use, and we also release an annual snapshot of publicly available data in the ORCID Registry. We’re always excited to learn about interesting ways these tools are being used by the community! Here are some that we know about; we’d love to learn about others! If you’re using the public API rather than the member one, please remember to still follow our best practices for authenticating and displaying iDs - this helps build a trusted PID infrastructure for everyone’s benefit!

Project THOR

As you may know, ORCID was one of the partners in this EU-funded project, which aimed to “establish seamless integration between articles, data, and researchers across the research lifecycle.” One of the outputs of this project was a Study of ORCID Adoption Across Disciplines and Locations, based on the 2016 ORCID public data file. Among the study’s key findings were:

  • There’s a higher representation of ORCID iDs in the natural, health and applied sciences than in arts, humanities, economic and social sciences
  • However, the proportion of humanists with ORCID iDs is disproportionately high compared with the number of researchers in this field overall (9.6% versus 4.1%)
  • The proportion of humanities users doubled between 2012-16 from 4.1% to 9.6%, but the number of works connected to their records only grew by about 50% during that period, from 3.8% to 5.5%
  • There are far more ORCID iD holders in Europe than in any other region

We’ll be updating this analysis as part of our Academia and Beyond project in 2019 - more on that soon!


OpenCitations is a scholarly infrastructure organization, directed by David Shotton and Silvio Peroni, which is dedicated to open scholarship and the publication of open bibliographic and citation data using Semantic Web (Linked Data) technologies. The organization is also engaged in advocacy for semantic publishing and open citations. One of its main outputs is the OpenCitations Corpus (OCC), an open database of downloadable bibliographic and citation data that conforms to the OpenCitations Data Model. It has been created and continuously expanded using a set of scripts, available in the OpenCitations GitHub repository, which gather metadata from external services -- including the ORCID Public API -- that describe both the citing and the cited articles involved in a citation. OCC routinely uses the ORCID Public API to try to retrieve ORCID iDs for all authors and editors named in the Crossref metadata for a given DOI. OpenCitations has also recently released BCite (sources available on GitHub), a web application that enables users such as journal editors to obtain 'clean' verified and enriched bibliographic reference text strings, for inclusion in the reference list of the citing article they have in hand. This ensures that accurate rather than erroneous references can be published in the version of record; the references are transformed into RDF data compliant with the OpenCitation Data Model, including ORCID iDs where available. 


Cobaltmetrics is an altmetrics provider, powered by a knowledge graph that contains billions of identifiers linked by billions of properties. Many different sources are combined to build the graph, mostly in the form of linked metadata shared by publishers, trusted repositories, and identifier registries (see their documentation on URI transmutation). They aim to make privacy and web-scale data mining compatible by using ORCID identifiers as the main contributor identifiers in Cobaltmetrics, and (as of October 2018) have added a total of 4,725,354 identifiers to the knowledge graph using our Public Data File. Cobaltmetrics is now working on contributor-level altmetrics aggregation, with the goal of showcasing what they know about any contributor from all the sources that they monitor. In future, if there’s interest from the community, they will consider a deeper integration with ORCID’s API to pull fresh data into their knowledge graph as often as possible. For more information, please see this Cobaltmetrics blog post.

Science article on migratory scientists

Science magazine journalist, John Bohannon, received the prestigious National Academics communication award for his analysis of scientists’ migration patterns using the ORCID public data file. Among his findings:

  • About one third of scientists who earned their PhD in the UK subsequently moved away, compared with only 15% of scientists in other EU countries
  • The annual influx of scientists to the US stagnated for several years after 2001 - possibly because of the World Trade Center attacks
  • Some researchers are “super-migrators” moving countries frequently for the sake of their career
  • Early career researchers (those who were more recently awarded their PhD) are overrepresented in the ORCID Registry indicating that they’re signing up for an iD faster than older researchers

While John noted the constraints of using ORCID data for this type of analysis, he also believes that: “As ORCID grows into a more comprehensive sample, policymakers will likely use it to track the impact of their efforts to entice research talent. Meanwhile, the data offer a unique glimpse into the migratory lives of the world's knowledge producers.”

Taxonomists on ORCID

You may remember that earlier this year, David Shorthouse wrote about how he’s creating a compendium of taxonomists using a combination of Twitter plus our public API. At the time he had around 1,500 taxonomists on his list; that has now grown to a whopping 5,640 (at time of writing)! For those who don’t already have an iD he’s included a handy link on the home page, to make signing up - or signing in - super easy. As he commented in his original post: “Active campaigns like this engage communities of researchers with the ORCID ecosystem. Its well-constructed public API permits very rapid production of value-added products of benefit to those same communities. There’s potential here for other interesting ways to capitalize on positive feedback-driven network effects.” We agree!

Thanks to all of the above for sharing their use of our public API and data file -- we are proud to be open in name and practice!


Diving Right In: ORCID Plans for 2019

Wed, 09 Jan 2019 - 13:26 UTC

It is always wonderful to end the year with a bang.  Just in time for the New Year fireworks, we reached a major milestone: 1000 members!  In addition, about 1000 researchers create an iD every day, and our API is now used about 100m times a month!

Researchers are central to everything we do at ORCID and, over the past few years, we’ve spent time working with key communities -- publishers, research institutions, and funders -- to support them as they implement ORCID in their researcher workflows. In 2019, we’re turning our attention to researchers themselves!

2019 - The Year of the Researcher

In 2019 roadmap, we are focusing the four core strategies from our strategic plan on researchers.  You can follow our progress on our 2019 Roadmap webpage.  

Strategy 1: Researcher. Establish compelling reasons and methods for researchers to use ORCID to share verified information about themselves.  Our Academia & Beyond project will expand our understanding of the needs of researchers in the Arts & Humanities and Life Science/Clinical Medicine communities.  In Improving the User Experience, we are going in deep to ensure the ORCID Registry is broadly accessible and that researchers have a positive and consistent experience when using their iD. Look for us at workshops and other events, where we’ll be carrying out focus groups!

Strategy 2: Infrastructure. Establish ORCID’s role as a trusted and neutral actor in sharing information. We want researchers to have confidence that ORCID services will be there when they are submitting a paper or applying for funding! So, we are starting a multi-year scalability and resiliency project -- Data Infrastructure --  including work to enhance API service levels and ensure continuity of service for the increasing number of systems using ORCID as a login. In parallel, in our Operations project, we are working to improve our back-office services in areas that have a direct impact on the research community, such as member self-service and badging.   

Strategy 3: Trusted assertions. Establish ORCID as a credible hub for asserting and re- using researcher information.  Three of our 2019 projects are focused on helping researchers make the most out of iD-ID connections.  PID Power will extend our assertion assurance work - our goal is to finally explain this in a way that everyone understands (look for our multi-modal presentation at PIDapalooza!) including by demonstrating practicality and utility in the ORCID Registry.  Alongside this work, our Person Citations thought leadership project will explore the notion of “contribution” to include a corpus of a person’s activities. And we will be extending our 2018 project on collecting evidence of impact, to document and Share our Successes and outcomes and identify gaps, starting with this new infographic!

Srategy 4: Strategic relationships. Increase engagement with our global community.  This year we will continue our work on the ORBIT project, with funder demonstration projects and a new working group focused on harmonizing the researcher experience for data exchange in funding application and reporting workflows.  We are also launching RIPEN (Research Information Platform ENgagement), a community pilot, to make ORCID easier to use in a variety of research workflows.  

Calling all researchers!

Interested in helping ORCID meet your needs?  We are looking for working group participants, people to help us set up focus groups, and your feedback!  If you are an arts and humanities researcher or a life sciences/clinical sciences researcher, we invite you to consider participating in our Academia and Beyond project.  If you are interested in brainstorming what it means to cite a person (and how to do it), we invite you to consider participating in our Person Citations project.  And if you are interested in helping to improve our user interface and user experience, please consider participating in our focus groups - and in suggesting venues to engage with your colleagues.  More information on working groups is available on our Community webpage.  To volunteer, please contact community@orcid.org.  To provide feedback, please use our iDeas Forum.


Our plan from the beginning has been persistence through adherence to openness, researcher-centric principles, and fiscal responsibility.  We have been making steady progress toward financial sustainability, with help from grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, National Science Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust as we built our services and membership base.  We thank our funders, our members, and everyone who has supported us financially since our launch. 2019 will be our first year without grant support, and we are also projecting it will be our first year of positive cash flow. You’ll hear more when we reach this important milestone.

We thank everyone in our community for your continued support and look forward to working with you this year and into the future!