What does a racecar have to do with disambiguation? I have no idea, but I do regret being talked into climbing into the racecar simulator at the Thomson Reuters stand. Luckily, it was very early and no one except a few Thomson Reuters staff witnessed my abysmal driving on the race track. Yes, I drove off the track several times, went into a spin, and generally embarrassed myself. No, there is no photo to accompany this blog post. The “adventure” made me want to change my name so no one would associate me with such poor driving skills.
Wait, maybe that was the tie-in with disambiguation of author names. It’s a big problem, trying to determine if authors with similar names are, in fact, the same person, particularly when they have changed institutional affiliations. Thomson Reuters and Nature Publishing Group convened the first Name Identifier Summit last month with a follow-up meeting occurring during Online Information. Accurate identification of researchers and their work is particularly important as we move to e-science. Thus far, there are 21 organizations participating in this initiative, including learned societies, libraries, open access publishers, and for-profit companies.
This collaboration, it is hoped, will create an open, independent identification system for scholarly authors.