LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Researcher Identifiers: a Personal Perspective
Professor Abdulsalam Y. Taha *
When God created Adam, He taught him all the names. [And He Taught Adam all the Names (Surat 2-Al-Baqarah 31)] . Since then, names were used to identify all creatures including human beings, animals, plants and places. Nevertheless, there are places in the world with similar names such as Plymouth of the United Kingdom and Plymouth of the United States of America, Tripoli of Lebanon and Tripoli of Libya, Alexandria of Iraq and Alexandria of Egypt  and so on. Likewise, many people have similar given names. Among different cultures, there are common names. For instance, among Arabs, the names of Mohammed, Ali, Hussain, Jasim, Ahmed, Yusuf and Jacob are very common. Therefore, a triple name, surname and/or mother’s name might be needed to identify a particular person correctly.
In a field like academic research, identification of researchers is an obvious necessity.
A brief personal story may worth mentioning in this context. The author of this article began the process of academic publishing in 1996. At that time, medical journals in a printed version were the common publishing medium as the internet facility wasn’t widely available. In different occasions, the author used different names such as ‘Al-Museilih’  and ‘Taha’  without realizing the importance of the continuity of the same name in the future. Later on, as the internet became accessible, searches on the net failed to retrieve all author’s publications. Having 2 author names meant that only publications carrying a particular name would be displayed while the remainder required entry of the other name. Moreover, these journals may not have been listed in the Index Medicus or some of their issues haven’t been uploaded to the net.
Index Medicus is a printed book used since 1879 to index the medical journals. This index was very useful in medical care, education and research. However, the use of Index Medicus declined slowly and nowadays completely replaced by online databases such as Medline, Embase and others. The last issue of Index Medicus was released in 2004 . Unfortunately, the vast majority of health and biomedical journals in the Middle East Region and (Third World) lack international indexing and abstracting services such as MEDLINE. This fact urged the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) to initiate the project of Index Medicus for the Eastern Mediterranean Region (IMEMR) to fill this gap. In 2008, the IMEMR database covered 408 journals from 19 Middle East countries .
Seeking a solution for the research and researcher identities, people began using new tools which proved very useful and simple to create. Digital Object Identifier (DOI), for instance, is a code assigned to an online publication to permit its easy retrieval  and an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit serial number used to uniquely identify a serial publication . New researcher identifiers continued to emerge like the ORCID and Researcherid. ORCID stands to Open Researcher and Contributor ID. This is a free website that enables any researcher to register and get a unique code by providing personal information and a valid e mail .
To summarize, as people in many cultures share common names; a given name may not be a good identifier of an academic researcher. Therefore, every researcher is urged to get a digital personal identifier such as ORCID so that he/she can be precisely distinguished and his/her publications can be accessed easily by readers, peers and funding organizations.
* Professor Abdulsalam Y Taha MB, ChB FIBMS (CTVS)
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Sulaimaniyah Teaching Hospital and College of Medicine, University of Sulaimani.
E mails: email@example.com
P. O. Box: 1155/64
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