Name ambiguity. It's one of those problems that you're born with. If you're a Williams, Johnson, or Smith—the most common surnames in the United States—it can be tricky for people to find you on the Internet, especially if you also have a common first name, such as Michael, Mary, James, or Jennifer. For academic researchers, whose careers are measured largely by authorship on papers, name ambiguity is a killer. Wouldn't it be great if all scientists had a unique identifier that mapped to all of their papers, projects, and grants?
Wait no longer. The scientific community seems to be coalescing at last around a single researcher identification standard. In an open letter released online today, some of the largest academic publishers and scientific societies are announcing that they will not just encourage, but ultimately require, researchers to sign up with ORCID, a nonprofit organization that uniquely identifies people with a 16-digit number.