| ORCID was launched a little over a year ago to develop a consistent means of identifying authors of scholarly publications. This doesn't sound like a difficult problem until one considers how many "Smiths" there are in English-speaking countries. At a different level of ambiguity is the assignment of a unique identifier for the more than 30 different Mandarin characters that are assigned to the anglicized name "Wang" in Chinese. The founding participants hope to move ORCID from the demonstration phase early next year to a full-fledged international nonprofit organization that will serve the needs of the entire scholarly community.
Outlook is good for ORCID, because it is modeled after the successful launch of another community organization, CrossRef, which was founded 11 years ago, again by a group of scientific publishers meeting during the Frankfurt Book Fair. CrossRef is now a self-supporting consortium of more than 700 publishers, libraries, and research institutions that maintain a database of over 40 million publications. This database and the interchange rules associated with the database allow readers of journal articles to link smoothly from references in one article to the cited article in the reference. This simple service is a boon to researchers scanning the literature for desired information. See my AIP Matters article from December 13, 2010, "Crossroads and Connectivity" for more on CrossRef and its associated projects, CrossCheck, and CrossMark.
ORCID will most likely undergo a similar rapid transition from a founding group to a self-supporting consortium because it has already attracted member institutions that represent the entire spectrum of interested users—from libraries, research institutions, funding agencies, and standards organizations to publishers. AIP, APS, Wiley-Blackwell, Wellcome Trust, MIT Libraries, and Microsoft Research were among the founding sponsors of the demonstration phase. AIP was among 10 publishers who volunteered last week in Frankfurt to loan ORCID sufficient funding to move from a demonstration project to a viable organization that solves a longstanding problem in the scholarly publishing community.
This year's fair also gave us the chance to introduce Adriana Acosta, AIP's new chief marketing and sales officer for our Publishing Division. On board for only two weeks, Frankfurt provided an excellent opportunity for Acosta to meet with our sales agents and consortia clients from China, Japan, India, France, and a host of other countries.
The 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair proved successful on a number of fronts. In addition to benefiting from the ample networking opportunities, we significantly extended an agreement with a large national consortium and doubled our digital archive sales with another.
|Inside Science Minds, an ongoing series of guest columns and perspectives on science geared toward the general public, presented by scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and others in the science community.
During Nobel Prize week, former AIP staffer Phil Schewe kicked off Inside Science Minds with his perspectives on the 2011 Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. Phil noted the similarities between the two prize topics, even though they deal with two vastly different length scales—at the scale of the universe (physics) and the atomic (chemistry). Both prizes honor ideas that were wildly contrary to scientific thinking at the time: in the case of physics, the notion that the universe is not only expanding, but accelerating in its expansion (seemingly due to mysterious "dark energy" in the universe), and in the case of chemistry, the existence of a kind of crystal—known as a quasicrystal—that seemed to be forbidden according to standard crystallography textbooks.
"One thing that seems to be accelerating even faster than the expansion of the universe is the expansion of human culture, particularly the enterprise of science," Phil wrote in the piece. Already a swarm of thinkers are trying to explain or measure the mysterious dark energy. And as soon as they accomplish that goal, some other mystery will present itself and need explanation."
Inside Science plans to run one to two guest columns per month. Future topics include searching for alien life in the climate of limited federal science funding, forecasting and planning for the most promising research areas a decade in advance, and communicating geology to the general public. We welcome ideas for guest columns and topics. Please feel free to send them to Ben Stein, editorial manager of Inside Science.
Monday–Thursday, October 24–27
Wednesday, October 26
Thursday, October 27
October 30–November 4
October 31–November 1