DOI for papers; ORCID for authors
Impact factors, the h-index, and other measures of assessing research journals and researchers are all based on citations. The basic logic is simple: if other researchers have cited your paper, that paper must be worthwhile. Although this simple measure is supplemented and refined by taking into account other factors, such as how often, by whom, in which journal, and so on, for the system to work well, it must identify the authors correctly.
And that is not simple enough: women scientists may continue to publish using their maiden name or may start using the new name following marriage; the system of transliteration may change (it was this change that turned Mao Tse-tung into Mao Zedong); authors may invert their names to put the given name first, followed by the family name or surname, a common Western practice, instead of the system common in Korea and China of putting the family name ahead of the given name (Park, Kuen-Yong, for example, may start writing the name as Kuen-Yong Park).
ORCID (open researcher and contributor ID), launched in October 2012, is meant to address this concern. Just as each document can be uniquely identified by its DOI, the document object identifier, or a book can be uniquely identified by its ISBN (International Standard Book Number), so a researcher can be uniquely identified by her or his ORCID—more than 250 000 researchers already have their unique ORCID. All you need to do is to visit the registration webpage at <https://orcid.org/register>; enter your first name and the last name, supply your email address, and create a password; and then confirm the details by following the link sent to the email address.
Among others, the Nature Publishing Group, Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley are already members and several have incorporated the ORCID concept into the workflow that begins with the author submitting a paper.