The Role of Persistent Identifiers in the Peer Review Process: Use of ORCID

Alice Meadows1


When widely adopted and embedded in the research infrastructure, persistent identifiers (PIDs) enable interoperability between systems, reducing errors caused by manual data entry and saving researchers time. This study presents initial results from 2 analyses of PID adoption and use of ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier). The first is an analysis by the Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research (THOR), a European Union–funded ORCID partner organization, of the uptake of ORCID identifiers. The second analysis reviews uptake of the peer review functionality associated with ORCID identifiers, which was introduced in October 2015.


The THOR study analyzes uptake of PIDs across 4 broad disciplines (20 subdisciplines) and 5 geographic regions to develop a baseline comparator using publicly available data on the location and journal publications of ORCID registrants and Science Metrix’s subject fields. The preliminary results of this analysis provided context for the study on uptake of ORCID’s peer review functionality. From October 2015 to the end of May 2017, 135,605 review activities were added to 9803 ORCID records by 9 organizations. Focusing on data from 3 early adopters (Publons, the American Geophysical Union, and F1000, collectively representing 99.59% of total use), use to date was assessed, including the number of reviewers whose ORCID records contain review activities, whether this information is publicly available, the number of review activities added (including number of DOIs where applicable), and number of participating journals. This information was supplemented by informal feedback from reviewers about the functionality and its benefits and drawbacks.


The discipline-only analysis of ORCID (487,471 ORCID records; 3,703,958 publications) showed the top share of ORCID in clinical medicine (507,230 publications [13.7%]), technology and other applied sciences (468,676 publications [12.7%]), and biology (454,468 publications [12.3%]). Built and environmental design had the least uptake (9800 publications [0.3%]). The regional-only analysis (785,020 ORCID records) showed the most uptake of ORCID in Europe (326,136 records [41.5%]) and the least uptake in the Middle East and Africa (36,768 records [4.7%]). In terms of ORCID’s peer review functionality, Publons is the top user. Of the 151,973 Publons users as of the end of May 2017, 10,471 (6.89%) have connected a total of 125,892 review activities to their ORCID records. This represents 92.8% of all review activities in ORCID. In addition, F1000 has connected 5714 reviews (4.21%) to ORCID records and the American Geophysical Union has connected 3455 reviews (2.55%). The number of participating journals from these 3 organizations was 8763. Initial feedback from participating reviewers indicates that they find the functionality of linking reviewer activity to ORCIDs valuable. However, there is a low level of knowledge and understanding of the option to connect review activities to ORCID records among reviewers, journals, and their organizations, indicating a need for increased outreach and education.


Use of PIDs—both in general and for peer review activity—varies by discipline and country. If widely adopted in a variety of peer review workflows in the future, ORCID could help address issues around recognition for peer review in all its forms.

1Community Engagement and Support, ORCID, Brookline, MA, USA, a.meadows@orcid.org


Ms Meadows is employed by ORCID and acknowledges the assistance of ORCID colleagues and from the THOR Project, as well as Brooks Hanson and Jeanette Panning of the American Geophysical Union, Rebecca Lawrence of F1000, and Tom Culley and Andrew Preston of Publons.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures:

None reported.