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ISNI code, IdHal, researcherID, IdRef… You have certainly come across these different identifiers in databases and library catalogues. These are researcher identifiers or author identifiers, i.e. permanent alphanumeric codes assigned to an author. This code can be created automatically by a database, but the researcher can also, in some cases, create it himself and manage its different identifiers.

Why use a researcher ID?

A researcher ID allows you to :

  • Differentiating from homonyms: unambiguous identification of an author in a given digital environment. The BnF gives the example of Jacques Martin: « L’ISNI se révèle particulièrement utile pour différencier les homonymes. Ainsi en est-il pour l’animateur de télévision Jacques Martin (ISNI 0000 0000 7359 228X) et l’auteur de bande dessinée du même nom (ISNI 0000 0001 2033 0240) »
  • Bringing together different identities under a single one: the identifier makes it possible to unify the different forms of the same name (married name, transliteration, etc.). For example, Joseph Fourier’s IdRef lists four different forms for one and the same person.
  • Assuring the researcher that their outputs will be attributed to him. Thus, thanks to his IdHAL, Philippe Garnier, architect, will not be able to be attributed the work of Philippe Garnier, lecturer in education sciences.
  • Avoid re-entering the same information in several databases. As the CoopIST website points out in its article Use a researcher ID to manage your publications: « il évite au chercheur de ressaisir les informations le concernant (comme les références de ses publications) dans ses profils créés dans les différentes bases de données qu’il utilise, en lui permettant d’exporter et d’importer les références d’une base à l’autre si elles sont interconnectées »
  • Facilitate the search for information: the identifier constitutes a unique access key to an author and his works.

Different identifiers

There are many researcher identifiers, each associated with a database. Some are created automatically, others are created by the researchers themselves.

Automatic creation


IdRef is used by the catalogues Calames, Sudoc, and Persée. It is managed by Abes, Agence Bibliographique de l’Enseignement supérieur. On its page entitled Production et enrichissement des notices d’autorité, the Abes underlines : « IdRef est interopérable avec les principaux identifiants internationaux (ISNI, VIAF, ORCID, wikidata). A l’échelle nationale, IdRef est relié à l’identifiant ARK utilisé par la Bibliothèque nationale de France ». For each new authority record, Abes automatically creates a new identifier.


VIAF stands for Virtual International Authority File. It is a collaborative project of several national libraries that aims to establish correspondences between authorities in different national files in order to simplify the management of authorities and improve access to information.


ISNI is an international ISO code that uniquely identifies people and organisations. BnF is the registration agency for ISNI identifiers in France, but it is the International ISNI Attribution Agency (ISNI-AA) that centralises the management of identifiers. The ORCID format is compatible with ISNI.


The Scopus ID is created by Elsevier when an author publishes an article in one of the journals indexed in their database. The Scopus Id author profile shows the Orcid Id: indeed, the two Ids are interoperable. It is thus possible to automatically add publications from the Scopus database to your Orcid profile.

Creation by the author


The HAL platform allows you to create an IdHAL identifier, unique identifier allowing an author to group all his publications under a single main form. In your IdHAL profile, you can fill in your different researcher IDs: ArXiv, IdRef, Researcher ID, VIAF, ISNI, Orcid, IDP INRA.


The ResearcherID is an identifier created by Thomson Reuters. It is associated with the Web of Science. It allows immediate updating of publications and indicators from the WoS or Endnote web. To obtain a ResearcherID, you must have at least one publication indexed on the Web of Science and create an account on Publons. It is possible to import your publications into your Publons profile via the Orcid login.


The Orcid system works as a bridge between the different identifiers. It is presented as a central entry point that links all the other systems: ScopusID, IdHAL, ResearcherID, VIAF, ISNI, ArXiv, ISNI… It allows to collect all the publications of a researcher in one point. It can also be used to import all the publications of a researcher into the researcher profile of Scopus or the Web of Science for example.

Linking identifiers

Each database has its own identifier, independent of other databases. This means that your ResearcherID profile, for example, will only show your publications in the Web of Science. However, it is possible to link your identifiers to each other, in order to centralise all publications under a single identifier.

ORCID allows you to add to your list of publications data from different organisations: HAL, Scopus, Crossref, ResearcherID (WoS), Europe PubMed Central, ISNI, BASE… It is also possible to indicate your ORCID number in your different profiles (ResearcherID, Scopus, HAL…) so that your ORCID profile is automatically updated with the publications published in these databases

Gianna Sergi, on the research notebook of the libraries and archives of the Collège de France Colligere, has written a relatively complete tutorial to link all the researcher identifiers together.