ORCID 2016 Hong Kong Workshop

Text by: Chris

On 24 June the 2016 ORCID Hong Kong Workshop was held at Hong Kong Baptist University, bringing together over 50 librarians and other professionals interested in this important innovation in scholarly communication. Several HKLC contributors were able to attend.

What is ORCID and why should librarians care?

For a full answer to this question, I highly recommend reading this useful primer by Akers et al., but in a nutshell ORCID is a solution to a long-standing problem in scholarly communication - name disambiguation. Shared or similar names often mean it is a nightmare for researchers and librarians to conduct accurate searches when compiling a comprehensive bibliography for a particular author. ORCID solves this by empowering researchers to identify themselves via a unique 16-digit number, referred to as the ORCID iD. By providing their iD when submitting a manuscript, applying for a grant, or making available a dataset, authors can ensure that they are given credit for their work and avoid misattribution.

Librarians, in their publishing and research assistance role, can support ORCID in a number of ways. Akers et al. identify the following:

  • Raise awareness of ORCID
  • Help researchers register for an ORCID iD and populate their ORCID profile
  • Integrate ORCID iDs into Institutional Repositories and other university systems
  • Teach researchers how to use their ORCID iD effectively

ORCID in Hong Kong

Present at the workshop were Douglas Wright, ORCID’s Membership Director, and Nobuko Miyairi, ORCID’s Regional Director for Asia-Pacific. Their presentations kicked things off on the day, and we learned that Hong Kong has been very supportive of ORCID’s vision. Seven institutions in the territory are already ORCID Members, which is more than Mainland China (there are currently three members there).

We heard from representatives of three of those institutions in an interesting panel session. First, Sheila Cheung from Lingnan University talked us through their recent implementation, which had only just been launched. Despite their eventual success, she noted that the lack of support for ORCID from the vendor of Lingnan’s institutional repository provider (BePress) made things difficult (coincidentally, BePress announced a few days later that they would be working to integrate ORCID into their institutional repository platform).

Next was Janice Chia of Polytechnic University. She described their roll-out, where the library implemented a top-down, departmental-focused approach. I thought the speed with which they achieved this was quite astonishing. In just a few months, the vast majority of PolyU researchers had been equipped with ORCID iDs!

Last to speak on the panel was Gabrielle Wong of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She reminded the audience that each institution has a unique culture, and that library support for ORCID adoption must be attuned to this. At HKUST there was no top-down mandate, so their approach was naturally different, focusing more on convincing faculty of the benefits, and providing them with reminders when appropriate. One point that I thought very important is that the library only has a certain amount of “brownie points” with the faculty, and that we need their support for other things besides ORCID. Pushing one project too hard could have negative repercussions down the road.

Although not officially on the panel, Nicole Ng from City University of Hong Kong shared the interesting experience of CityU colleagues during the Q&A session. To help promote ORCID, student helpers were trained not only to help faculty set up their ORCID iDs, but to link them to Scopus (a major citation database) as well. This appears to have worked well, and is certainly another possible approach to consider.

It's not a profile system!

I had the opportunity to make a brief presentation on a survey of HKBU faculty conducted a couple of months ago. There were quite a few interesting findings, but for me the most important was the seemingly widespread confusion between ORCID and research profile systems. Many researchers believe that ORCID is similar to platforms such as Academia.edu and ResearchGate, but in actual fact ORCID’s main purpose is to serve as the plumbing connecting various different research systems. More needs to be done to communicate this effectively to researchers, at least at HKBU.

How can we collaborate?

While listening to and speaking with colleagues at the workshop, I realised that there were many things - big and small - that we could do to support ORCID adoption. One possibility would be to form a Hong Kong ORCID consortium to lower costs and attract more members. Lobbying local research funders to require ORCID iDs from grant applicants could also have a major impact. Perhaps the most important thing is to keep doing what we did at the workshop: share ideas and experience, and hopefully inspire each other to do more.

ORCID still has a long way to go before it is fully integrated into all research systems, and it is only then that researchers, librarians, and our institutions will fully realize the potential benefits. This vision will surely be achieved sooner if we work together, and coming away from this workshop I believe that there is great deal of potential for librarians in Hong Kong to do just that.

Are you supporting ORCID at your institution? Ideas about how librarians in Hong Kong can work together to spread the ORCID word? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!


Akers, G., Sarkozy, A., Wu, W., & Slyman, A. (2016). ORCID Author Identifiers: A Primer for Librarians. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 35(2), 135–144, doi:10.1080/02763869.2016.1152139