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Identifiers are used in scholarship to connect a work with a specific individual, institution, funder, or location online. They are unique strings of letters or numbers that help with discoverability, credit, and assessment.
The benefits of identifiers in research can be understood by reflecting on authorship. An author identifier is "a unique 'symbol' for an author that can be used to distinguish that person’s work from all others, regardless of any similarities of name, institution, or discipline" (Clara Y. Tran and Jennifer A. Lyon, 2017). Authorship ambiguity can be a consequence of a number of factors. For example, a researcher might have a common name, might have previously published under a variation of a name (for example, used a middle initial), or might have a name change as a result of a life event. By associating a paper with an author identifier, there is less uncertainty as to whether that publication is written by the Jane Smith at a university in Wyoming or the Jane Smith at a university in Ohio.
This LibGuide looks overviews three types of identifiers: author identifiers (ORCID, ResearcherID, and ScopusID), institutional identifiers, and digital object identifiers.
(Credit to original guide writer Nora Mattern.)