In many countries around the world that use authorship and academic papers for career advancement and recognition, the accurate identity of participating authors is vital. ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID), an author disambiguation tool that was created in 2012, is being vociferously implemented across a wide swathe of journals, including by many leading publishers. In some countries, authors who publish in indexed journals, particularly in journals that carry a Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Impact Factor, are rewarded, sometimes even monetarily. A strong incentive to cheat and abuse the publication ethos thus exists. There has been a recent spike in the detection of papers apparently derived from paper mills that have multiple issues with figures. The use of such figures across many papers compromises the integrity of the content in all those papers, with widespread ramifications for the integrity of the biomedical literature and of journals that may be gamed by academics. The use of ORCID does not guarantee the authenticity of authors associated with a paper mill-derived paper, nor does it fortify the paper’s integrity. These weaknesses of ORCID may dampen trust in this tool, especially if the ORCID platform is being populated by “ghost” (empty) ORCID accounts of academics whose identities cannot be clearly verified, or disposable accounts (perhaps created by paper mill operators) that are used only once, exclusively to pass the paper submission step. Open-source forensic tools to assist academics, editors and publishers to detect problematic figures, and more stringent measures by ORCID to ensure robust author identity verification, are urgently required to protect themselves, and the wider biomedical literature.
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Conflict of interest
The author declares no conflicts of interest of relevance to this topic. The author has no ORCID due to the concerns expressed in Teixeira da Silva (2020b).
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Teixeira da Silva, J.A. Abuse of ORCID’s weaknesses by authors who use paper mills. Scientometrics 126, 6119–6125 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-03996-x
- Image integrity
- Name and identity disambiguation
- Third party services