Geology & Geophysics AGU News

AGU Opens Its Journals to Author Identifiers

The society is incorporating into its publications new identification codes akin to the digital object identifiers used for journal articles, but for field samples, funders, and more.


Openly shared identification codes, such as digital object identifiers (DOIs) for journal articles, have greatly eased accessibility of online scientific papers. Now other open community identifiers for funders, institutions, field samples, and researchers are garnering support, demonstrating similar benefits, and being adopted by many publishers.

These digital identifiers hold great usefulness for securing integrity in science, providing efficiency, enabling scholarly communication and discovery, and aiding researchers in their work. Consequently, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Publications is taking steps to help our community adopt them.

Today, AGU officially joins with seven other publishers in a commitment to include the ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) for authors of all papers published in 2016.


ORCID provides an important means for improving discoverability and recognition for researchers. They create their own ORCIDs through simple registration, and they fully control the privacy of their accounts. Authors and reviewers can easily create an ORCID or link to it in AGU’s editorial system, GEMS.

Having an ORCID enables several important processes. For one, it allows scholars to get credit for reviews. Once your ORCID is entered in our editorial system, AGU will, with your permission, officially add that you completed an AGU review to your ORCID record. AGU will only list the journal and year the review was completed, similar to the recognition we provide annually in our journals.

In addition, including the ORCID as part of published author information in papers will better enable linking of content and accurate discovery across individuals, similar to the way DOIs have enabled reference linking across journals. Given a specific scientist’s permission, AGU can also add published papers to his or her ORCID record.

Other Identifiers Also Encouraged

Although ORCIDs are spotlighted by today’s announcement, AGU Publications also strongly encourages use of other identifiers in our journal papers. International Geo Sample Numbers (IGSNs) uniquely identify items, such as a rock sample, a piece of coral, or a vial of water taken from the natural environment, and provide important, consistent information about these samples. Registering samples and including the IGSN in papers helps secure provenance information but most importantly connects common samples across multiple studies in the literature. IGSNs also will help you keep track of your samples. These identifiers can be reserved before a field season or assigned afterward.

Most publishers, including AGU, require that grant information be included in published papers. Now that CrossRef offers an open registry of funders known as FundRef, AGU collects this information in our editorial system as FundRef identifiers. This enables funders to accurately identify outcomes of grants. It also enables public access to published papers funded by participants registered through CHORUS. For the geosciences, participating funders include the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others.

Publishers Can’t Do It Alone This Time

Although the first generation of identifiers, such as DOIs, could be registered and administered entirely by publishers, we need your help to enable and empower newer identifiers, such as ORCID, IGSNs, and FundRef. We appreciate that creating and linking or entering more identifiers can represent additional work and effort by scholars, adding to an already complex process. In some cases, however, these open community identifiers can replace other information or can streamline entry, simplify processes, or eliminate work later.

The potential benefits from widespread adoption of all these identifiers, as seen already for DOIs, are great, including fostering discovery and management elsewhere. AGU is committed to using technology to simplify other parts of the submission and review process as much as possible.

Further details about these identifiers are available at the links above.

—Brooks Hanson, Director of Publications, AGU; email: [email protected]

Citation: Hanson, B. (2016), AGU opens its journals to author identifiers, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO043183. Published on 7 January 2016.

Text © 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0
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