On Monday I was at the BioLINK Special Interest Group at the Intelligent Systems for Molecule Biology meeting in Stockholm. Amongst the many thought-provoking talks was one by Phil Bourne, he of the Protein Data Bank, SciVee and other goodies. Phil made a cogent plea for a system of unique identifiers for scientists.
Giving unique IDs to scientists is an idea that has recently moved quickly from being deep down wish-lists to being bang in the middle of many people’s navigation screens. It would, to give just one example, make it much easier for a researcher to aggregate their contributions to science through many channels – journal publications, publicly deposited datasets, blog posts, whatever. What surprised me is how comfortable Phil is, or at least would be, to be assigned a number. He’s right – being a number can be liberating.