May 16, 2022

Research Preprint: “Faculty Use of Author Identifiers and Researcher Networking Tools”

The following article (accepted for publication, preprint) will be published in the July 2017 issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL).


Faculty Use of Author Identifiers and Researcher Networking Tools


Clara Y. Tran
Stony Brook University

Jennifer A. Lyon
Stony Brook University


via C&RL Website

From the Introduction

One of the challenges for tracking scholars’ publications is name ambiguity. In recent years, scholarly productivity has grown tremendously, making it difficult to distinguish who the author of a particular document may be due to identical or similar names, name changes over time, the use of aliases, or writing as ‘anonymous’ . This fundamental problem of name ambiguity has been extensively discussed in the literature, as it causes multiple problems such as creating metadata in a repository system and tracking authors in the publishing world. As in the case of Journal of Applied Polymer Science, “J. Zhang” was ‘the most prolific author’ in 2012, which actually represented multiple, indistinguishable authors . A Nature article reported that China’s Ministry of Public Security estimates that 1.1 billion people, that is, roughly 85% of China’s population, share just 129 surnames


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. Recently, organizations and publishers have been developing tools and author registration systems to assist scholars in tracking their publications and receiving recognition for their works.


The survey was disseminated through various media during the month of April 2015, including all-faculty emails (April 13 and 24), the SBU [Stonybrook Unversity] Libraries’ websites, weekly campus announcements (April 6 and 13), and ‘hand-out’ bookmarks at all library circulation desks. Additionally, individual library faculty advertised the survey to their specific liaison departments to encourage participation.

From the Results Section

Overall, 32% (n=95) of 300 responders expressed familiarity with the idea of author identifiers used to distinguish publications. Interestingly, the Physical Sciences faculty demonstrated a dramatically higher percentage of familiarity at 61%, compared to Biological Sciences (35%), Health Sciences (29%), and Social Sciences & Engineering (24% each). The lowest recognition was found in the Arts & Humanities (8%) and Mathematics (7%). This is despite the Physical Sciences only having 41 responses compared to 76 in the Health Sciences, 46 in the Biological Sciences, and 38 in Arts & Humanities for example. Therefore, the high preponderance of recognition in the Physical Sciences is not due to a higher response rate.

Direct to Full Text Article
17 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.