Passing on ResearcherID

Posted on 17 minute read

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This morning I got an invitation to join ResearcherID, a new author profile service from Thomson Scientific. The service sounds nice enough -- who doesn't want to take steps to avoid confusion between authors? -- and if you have access to other Thomson products (like ISI Web of Knowledge or Web of Science) it may be even nicer. I'm all for the establishment of unique identifiers so we can start to do some interesting things with co-citation analysis and mining the web of connections in journal articles, but I'm not signing up. At least not yet.

Snapshot of the E-mail Invitation to Join ReseacherID

"A Unique Identifier"

The e-mail invitation starts with this:

A unique identifier

When you register, you are assigned a unique ID number that expressly associates you with your published works, regardless of any possible nomenclature confusion or institutional affiliation changes. These unique identifiers allow everyone who accesses to easily find a specific author’s work, avoiding the common problem of author misidentification.

With the service, I can assert that particular citations are papers that I have written. (Interesting sidebar -- I wonder if the ResearcherID service attempts any sort of automated and/or manual verification of the claim that I was an author/co-author of a paper.) I do this either by uploading a list of citations (in Thomson's RIS format only) or selecting them from ISI Web of Knowledge or Web of Science (if I'm at a subscribing institution). Then I have a nicely formatted web page with all of my papers. Granted, it isn't the only way I can go about doing this, but the Thomson service does seem to make a point about distinguishing itself by assigning me a "ResearcherID" in the process.

There seems to be something more going on here, though. Why go through the effort of assigning me an alpha-numeric string and publicizing it if it isn't going to be used somewhere else?

But what about the other end of the use case?

The End User License Agreement (EULA) are pretty standard stuff, but buried in the middle is this:

5.3. Except as described in this Agreement, You may not use, copy, adapt, translate, modify, sell, distribute or otherwise create derivative databases, services or works of or based on the ResearcherID Service (including the Researcher Registry) or the materials accessible in the ResearcherID Service.

That would seem to effectively eliminate the ResearcherID(tm) as a useful identifier in other systems. Presumably without paying Thomson for the right to use the identifier. And without knowing the cost of using the identifier in other systems (there doesn't seem to be any information published on ways to use the identifier elsewhere, even though an earlier section of the EULA describes such usage for "Sponsored Services"), I'm not ready to sign onto (and therefore effectively promote) such a service.

The full End User License Agreement

You can't get to the EULA without receiving an invitation and putting your personal information into the website. It is only after you get the invitation and go through the first step of entering in your demographic information that you get to see the EULA. (The "Privacy Policy" and "Terms of Use" links on the ResearchID website do not contain this information. So, for the benefit of others in critiquing this post, I've copied the entire EULA below.

ResearcherID Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

This agreement (Agreement) is a legal agreement between you, the user, (You or Your) and Thomson Scientific Inc. having its principal place of business located at 3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (TS, We or Our) and describes the terms and conditions on which you may access and use and TS will provide the ResearcherID service described in Section 1 below (the ResearcherID Service), which includes the allocation to You of a unique Researcher ID (the ResearcherID).


We reserve the right to modify this Agreement at any time by posting amended terms in the ResearcherID website at the following URL: (the ResearcherID Website). Your continued use of the ResearcherID Service indicates your acceptance of the amended Agreement.


1.1. Once you have completed the registration process for the ResearcherID Service, TS will:

1.1.1. allocate a unique ResearcherID to You, which You can use to associate articles, theses, reports, speeches, or other materials that you have written or contributed to with Yourself and Your ResearcherID;

1.1.2. maintain a database (the Researcher Registry) in which it will store information or metadata (such as metadata relating to the articles that You have associated with Your ResearcherID or to institutions or organisation with which you have an affiliation, whether past or present) that: (i) You provide during the registration process or subsequently update; or (ii) You provide or we collect in connection with You using Your ResearcherID (such as when you publish articles and include Your ResearcherID as an additional identifier for You) (ResearcherID Data); and

1.1.3. publish certain information and data from the Researcher Registry on the ResearcherID Website and in other Sponsored Services (defined in Section 1.2 below).

1.2. TS may make interfaces to the Researcher Registry available for use in connection with products or services provided by TS, its Affiliates (such as ISI Web of Knowledge and Scholar One) or certain relevant authorised third parties (such as publishers and societies) (Sponsored Services) to:

1.2.1. enable such Sponsored Services to provide additional ResearcherID Data to the Researcher Registry, which You provide or which those Sponsored Services collect in connection with Your use of Your ResearcherID in connection with those Sponsored Services;

1.2.2. create new tools for use in connection with Sponsored Services (such as tools which help users more easily identify Your articles or which enable You to find collaborators or which allow other people to find You for collaborations); and

1.2.3. enhance existing Sponsored Services (such as providing more relevant search results to improve end user experience and to enhance performance measurement applications).

1.3. TS will not allow any of Your personally identifiable information stored in the Researcher Registry to be published (whether on the ResearcherID Website, Sponsored Services or otherwise generally to third parties) where you have indicated a preference to restrict its publication. For further details of how TS will process your personally identifiable information, please refer to Section 4 below.

1.4. You understand and agree that:

1.4.1. by using the ResearcherID Service and Your ResearcherID You will be providing ResearcherID Data to the Researcher Registry and You grant a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to:

(a) TS, its affiliates and applicable authorised third parties to use the ResearcherID Data in the course of providing or using the ResearcherID Service, Sponsored Services and the ResearcherID Website; and

(b) TS to reformat, extract, adapt or translate any ResearcherID Data;

1.4.2. all information publicly posted or privately transmitted by You through the ResearcherID Service or through any Sponsored Services or the ResearcherID Website is Your sole responsibility and TS will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the ResearcherID Data stored in the Researcher Registry.


2.1. You agree and undertake that You: (i) are over the age of 18; (ii) have not been removed or suspended from the ResearcherID Service at anytime; (iii) do not have more than one active ResearcherID account; and (iv) shall not sell, transfer, pledge or otherwise trade your ResearcherID to another person.


3.1. If You have not registered to use the ResearcherID Service and accepted the terms and conditions in this Agreement and/or if You do not comply with the Conditions of Use set out Section 2 above, You should not use the ResearcherID Service.

3.2. You agree and undertake that the information You provide during the registration process or which You subsequently update shall be accurate and up to date. You agree to regularly check Your profile in the Researcher Registry to ensure that it is accurate and up to date.

3.3. Your username and password are confidential to TS. You should not disclose Your login details to any third party or allow any such third parties to access the ResearcherID Service, whether on Your behalf or otherwise. You will be fully responsible for all use of Your ResearcherID account where the correct login details have been provided to access the account.

3.4. You will not:

3.4.1. falsely state, impersonate, or otherwise misrepresent your identity, including but not limited to the use of a pseudonym, or misrepresent your current or previous positions and qualifications, or your affiliations with a person or entity, past or present or falsely attribute work to Yourself where You are not the author of or You have not contributed to the work.

3.4.2. create a denial of service, hack into, make unauthorised modifications of or otherwise impede the ResearcherID Service, whether by the use of malware or otherwise, intercept the communications of others using the ResearcherID Service or falsify the origin of the Your communications or attempt to do any of these acts;

3.4.3. use the ResearcherID Services for any illegal or injurious purpose or to publish, post, distribute, receive or disseminate defamatory, infringing, confidential, obscene, or other unlawful material or to threaten, harass, stalk, spam, abuse, or otherwise violate the legal rights (including without limitation rights of privacy and publicity) of others.


4.1. In the course of using the ResearcherID Service, TS will collect, store and process ResearcherID Data as described in Section 1. Some of this ResearcherID Data will be personally identifiable information (personal information). If you choose not to provide any personal information where requested for the ResearcherID Service, TS may not be able to provide You with the ResearcherID Service.

4.2. You understand and agree that TS may disclose ResearcherID Data (including Your personal information) if required to do so by law or where We believe (acting reasonably) that such disclosure is reasonably necessary to comply with any legal process or to protect the rights of TS, its Affiliates or applicable third parties.

What personal information We Collect using the ResearcherID Service

4.3. When you first register to use the ResearcherID Service, You will be asked to provide certain personal information such as name (including all names and pseudonyms under which you publish articles and other works), address, affiliated institutions and organisations (and your position within those institutions and organisations), email address and other biographical information. You may also be asked to submit additional personal information, or TS may collect additional information about You which will be linked to You and stored in the Researcher Registry, in the course of Your use of the ResearcherID Service (as described in Section 1 above), such as articles you have written or contributed to, keywords and subject areas which relate to your areas of specialisation or with which You want to be associated.

4.4. We may monitor and record e-mails and telephone calls to the Thomson Scientific helpdesk. We do this for training purposes and to make sure the problems and issues You bring to Our attention are resolved promptly and correctly. We may also monitor Your use of the Researcher Registry, Sponsored Services and the ResearcherID Website to ensure compliance with this Agreement and to ensure the security and availability of the ResearcherID Service.

What We Do With the Information We Collect

4.5. We will use and process Your personal information to provide the ResearcherID Service to You including, without limitation, maintaining the Researcher Registry, for account administration purpose and for communicating general information to You about the ResearcherID Service including maintenance updates and general changes to the ResearcherID Service. We may also communicate information concerning new features, services and tools including additional Sponsored Services where you have requested to receive this information.

4.6. We may aggregate personal information into demographic data about Our users to enable Thomson Scientific to provide the most relevant and valuable services to its user community.

4.7. We may engage third parties to provide some of the processing activities described in this Agreement on Our behalf. We may allow certain third parties to access the Researcher Registry and to provide ResearcherID Data to the Researcher Registry in the course of providing Sponsored Services. We may also provide Your information to law enforcement agencies and other authorities where We are required to do so by applicable laws. Otherwise TS does not make your information available to any third parties without Your express consent.

4.8. You understand and agree that third party providers of Sponsored Service may collect Your personal information in connection with Your use of the Sponsored Service. Those third parties may have different privacy policies and practices, which You should confirm with those third parties.

IP Address

4.9. Thomson Scientific may use your IP address to help diagnose problems with its servers. Your IP address may also be used to gather broad demographic information about Thomson Scientific's population, so we can make Our services more effective. We may also recognize Your IP address as an aid to presenting appropriate welcome messages and to authenticate Your access to the ResearcherID Services.


4.10. The ResearcherID Service has been designed with Your needs for privacy and security in mind. We follow stringent procedures to protect our servers from attack and use encryption techniques to protect You personal information from unauthorised disclosure, alteration and destruction.

4.11. We also implement stringent technical and organisational policies and procedures to protect Your personal information off-line. All information stored in the Researcher Registry is restricted so that only employees who need the information to perform specific tasks in relation to the Researcher Registry are granted access to personally information. Finally, the servers that we store personal information on are kept in a secure environment.

How You can correct or update Your personal information and preferences

4.12. You can change Your registration information and preferences at anytime in the Edit My Profile section for the ResearcherID Service on the ResearcherID Website or in any Sponsored Service or otherwise by contacting the Thomson Scientific helpdesk (details of which can be found at the following URL:

Complaints and Further information about Thomson Scientific's privacy policies

4.13. We are committed to working with you to resolve, quickly and fairly any complaints you may have about this Privacy Policy and/or Our processing of Your personally identifiable data. If you have any questions or comments or if you would like further information about TS's privacy policies, please refer to our Data Privacy team (


5.1. The ResearcherID Service contains proprietary technology and copyright material owned by Thomson Scientific, Inc. and/or its third party licensors. All use of the ResearcherID Service and the materials accessible in ResearcherID Service are restricted and subject to Thomson Scientific's prior written consent.

5.2. 'Thomson', the Thomson starburst logo and 'ResearcherID', are trade or service marks of The Thomson Corporation or its affiliated companies. All other product and service names cited are trademarks of their respective companies.

5.3. Except as described in this Agreement, You may not use, copy, adapt, translate, modify, sell, distribute or otherwise create derivative databases, services or works of or based on the ResearcherID Service (including the Researcher Registry) or the materials accessible in the ResearcherID Service.

5.4. You may only reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any of the software or technology contained in the ResearcherID Service to the extent expressly permitted by law, where such rights cannot be modified by agreement.


6.1. TS, Its affilliates and third party suppliers make no warranty or representation as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any materials contained within the ResearcherID Service (including the Researcher Registry and the ResearcherID Website) or as to whether the provision of ResearcherID Service will be uninterrupted or error free nor that all errors in the rEsearcherID Service or the materials contained within ResearcherID Service will be corrected. In particular, TS, its affiliates and third Party Suppliers will not be liable for (i) any corruption, alteration, damage, loss or mistransmission (as applicable) of Your or any third party's data, software, hardware or systems; and (ii) loss or damage resulting from the inadequacy of security of data during transmission via public electronic communications networks or facilities.

6.2. The ResearcherID Service may Include Services or Internet Sites (including Sponsored Services) or contain links to Such services or Internet sites operated by third parties (other than TS or its affiliates). Where such links exist they are provided for the Your convenience only. TS does not control such third party services and Internet sites, and is not responsible for their contents or supply. TS's inclusion of links to such Internet sites or Services in connection with The ResearcherID Service does not imply any endorsement of such Services or Internet site or any information or material that is made available to you in connection with such Services or Internet sites or any association with their operators and TS makes no warranties in respect of such Services or Internet sites.

6.3. Neither TS nor ANY OF its Affiliates or Third Party Suppliers will be liable in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise for any indirect, special, punitive or consequential loss or damage arising out of or in connection with this Agreement or Your use of the ResearcherID Service, however such indirect loss or damage may arise.

6.4. THE MAXIMUM AGGREGATE LIABILITY OF TS, its Affiliates and third party suppliers HEREUNDER SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE FEE PAID BY YOU FOR receipt of the ResearcherID Service, WHICH IS ZERO DOLLARS ($0).


7.1. TS may terminate this Agreement at any time without prior notice for any or no reason.

7.2. You may terminate this Agreement at any time by providing at least thirty (30) days' prior written notice to the Thomson Scientific helpdesk.


8.1. Neither You nor TS will be liable to the other for any failure or delay in the performance of its obligations under this Agreement (except for payment of money) due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control.

8.2. Failure or delay by either party in exercising any right or power hereunder will not constitute a waiver of such right or power.

8.3. You shall not assign, sub-license or delegate any of Your rights or obligations under this Agreement without the prior written consent of TS. TS may sub-contract or transfer all or any or its rights or obligations under this Agreement to any third party, provided that in the case of sub-contracting, TS shall remain responsible for the performance by its sub-contractors of such obligations under this Agreement. Any assignment, sub-licensing or delegation in breach of this Section 8.3 shall be null and void.

8.4. Any notice given under this Agreement must be in English, in writing, signed by or on behalf of the party giving it and delivered personally or sent by pre-paid post to the address of the other party or by email to the email address of the other party. Any such notices will be treated as being received on the date that the notice is recorded as having been delivered.

8.5. This Agreement contains the entire agreement between You and TS as to its subject matter and supersedes any and all written or oral prior agreements and understandings in relation thereto. You acknowledge that in entering into this Agreement You have not relied on any representations made by TS that is not expressed in this Agreement. This Section 8.5 shall not be construed as excluding either party's liability in respect of any fraudulent statements.

8.6. If any provision of this Agreement is determined to be illegal or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction, it shall be deemed to have been deleted without affecting the remaining provisions.

8.7. This Agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and You irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal and state courts located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

8.8. Each Party intends that TS's Affiliates and Third Party Sponsors shall be third party beneficiaries of this Agreement and, thus, entitled to enforce this Agreement as if an original party hereto. There shall be no other third party beneficiaries.