Scientific publications and digital identity

Scientific communication

The scientific communication has radically changed the last few years. Originally, the scientific reviews were available in paper format and now are massively (and often from the output exclusively) in digital format due to the spread Internet usage and changing traditional communication methods (open archives, personal and academic social network, etc.)

Historically, TSI (Technical and Scientfic Information -IST in French) was published by scientific editors (commercial or not, such as learned societies) signing contracts with the producers of this information. Over time, several of these editorial societies launched aggressive commercial strategies which have led these societyes to an oligopolistic situation: Reed Elsevier -became RELX Group in February 2015, Springer/MacMillan/Nature Publishing Group, Wiley Blackwell, Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer and Informa (Taylor&Francis) now share the major part of a lucrative TSI market.

These groups enforce unbalanced financial conditions on authors and public entities which subscribe to the scientific publications (mainly the university libraries). Moreover, these groups own the tools which made the bibliometric analysis that the research assessment tools use to determine the credits/grants (Web of Science: WoS, property of Thomson Reuteurs, or Scopus, property of Elsevier).

Scientific publications and also now research data are going to become commercial commodities. The commercial editors who do not participate and remunerate the academics who produce the material, earn substantial profits.


Bibliometric tools (based on statistic indicators on scientific publications) are imperfect but mostly used as science and researchers evaluation tools. Concerning the research financed by public funds, this sutation is paradoxal.

Simultaneously, the number of scientific review and editors increased and internationalized, making it impossible to know how many reviews existed exactly. Bibliometric tools are based on numerous corpuses (18000 titles in Scopus in 2014 and 12000 titles in WoS). But they are closed and limited so they do not reflect correctly the real leadership and impact of publishing articles.

Faced with that problem, new impact measurement tools have been developed such as Altmetrics.

The Cirad website  details the major notoriety indicators associated with current scientific publications.

Digital identity

New scientific production distribution methods result in a need for unique identification of authors and institutions to which they are attached to optimize the referencing of publications and to increase their visibility.

To remove any ambiguity regaring possible homonyms, and repatriate all scientific publications automatically onto different sites, it can be useful to create one ore more researcher identifiers and be attentive to their updates.

In Hal, the IDHal allows you to create an online dynamic CV which automatically enhances gradually as publications are deposited in Hal.
ORCID is "an open, participatory and non-profit company whose objective is to create and maintain a registry of researchers' unique identifiers and a transparent method for linking research activities and results to these identifiers". It is very easy to create a username, which should then be interoperable with different bibliographic databases and deposit platforms.

Other identifiers exist ; if you are looking for information on their advantages and objectives, please contact your librarian.

Researcher social networks

Since the advent of web 2.0, every type of social network has mutiplied. Researchers often have, in addition to their personal or institutional pages, an account on Facebook, Linkedin or Viadeo.

Some bibliographic management tooks, such as Zotero and Mendeley, also develop social functionalities.

More recently, attendance of platforms dedicated to researchers such as Academia (particularly for human and social sciences) or ResearchGate (for hard sciences) has increased. 

These two platforms, loading, and sometimes promotion, tools, belong to private companies with an economic business model which is difficult to read (current events around testifies to this).

Moreover, an important deficit of information and clarity defines a few services offered by these platforms, concerning metrics (RG Score) for example.

You need to be very careful before uploading onto these platforms for two main reasons linked to copyright. Firstly, you may not have the right to upload already published articles in any other way. Secondly, by publishing on these platforms, you give away rights over your work to the owners of these sites.

The social interest of these platforms is obvious, but you should use them in addition to Open Archives and not as an exclusive method of communication.
The URFIST (Regional Unity of Formation to STI) recently published a clear updated synthesis on this question.

Université de Poitiers - 15, rue de l'Hôtel Dieu - TSA 71117 - 86073 POITIERS Cedex 9 - France - Tél : (33) (0)5 49 45 30 00 - Fax : (33) (0)5 49 45 30 50 -