Jumping in a little late...
David Lowe brought to my attention the recent discussion of ORCID and ISNI and VIAF on the CODE4LIB listserv. I wanted to toss into the discussion a few more pieces of information about ORCID.
ORCID is user-driven, and as posters have noted individuals may register (for free) or their employers can create an ORCID record on their behalf. In addition, ORCID identifiers are being integrated into "publishing" (really, making public) workflows such as manuscript submission, grant application, hiring/on-boarding, thesis completion, dataset deposits, peer review, and more--so that it becomes a component of the metadata in a variety of records. ORCID also supports linkages to name variants (across languages) and other person identifiers such as Scopus Author ID, ResearcherID, and ISNI.
As noted, there is some (limited) support for RDF. We should be able to do more with this next year. While ORCID does not have central library authority control, a consumer of ORCID information can obtain data provenance information. So, in addition to the linkages between the ORCID identifier and other identifiers (for people, research objects, and organizations), users may obtain the source of that linkage--whether the claim was made by the record holder, their employer, or a trusted third party such as a publisher. We are currently working on functionality to support third-party assertions (by ORCID member organizations) on the individual self-assertions (more here: http://orcid.org/blog/2014/06/02/working-group-recommendations-multiple-assertions).
ISNI, ORCID, and VIAF support different use cases, and power comes in working together to support interoperability between data systems. For example, ISNI incorporates library authority control, necessary for managing records for deceased or otherwise inactive researchers. Together, ISNI, ORCID, and VIAF provide the means for libraries, automated algorithms, and the researchers themselves to collaborate in managing the person disambiguation process. ORCID and ISNI have been working together to support interoperability between the two systems, most recently by providing a tool to link a person's ISNI with their ORCID record (more on this collaboration here: http://www.isni.org/content/isni-and-orcid-sign-memo-understanding).
Laurel L. Haak, PhD
Executive Director, ORCID
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