ORCID launches live service

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In case anybody missed this piece of news on Twitter, the Open Researcher & Contributor ID initiative launched the first real, proper contributor ID service yesterday. Like several hundred (thousand?) others, I’ve already registered with the ORCID service and have my own persistent identifier, expressed as a clickable web URI:


So, what are you waiting for!!?  Go get your ID own here: http://orcid.org/register

Launching the live service is a huge, huge step for the ORCID organization which I’ve been involved in for some time now (NB blog post coming on this topic).

There’s certainly a lot of work still to be done, such as working out how to accommodate the numerous small-scale organizations & projects who want to integrate with ORCID but cannot afford full membership fees (the fee structure is far from ideal). But as far as steps go, this is a big one.

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Finally got around to tweak my website a bit

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About time. I’ve been thinking about this for ages: I really ought to translate as much of my site to Icelandic as I can. And now I’ve done something about it.

I wrote about translation some months ago, and since then I’ve installed the excellent qTranslate plugin on my site. It’s not perfect, but does the job well enough and seemed to be the best free, not-so-complex tool available for WordPress.

So, now there’s a pair of nice flags in the header bar for switching between Iceland and English for regular posts, and also for the other content on the site, including the little widgets in the sidebar on the front page and my Publications page:

Icelandic:  http://gthorisson.name/is/publications/
English: http://gthorisson.name/publications/

I also added some links to the main author profile services of relevance to me:

Mendeley gudmundur-thorisson 
Google Scholar yfQ_-aUAAAAJ
Microsoft Academic Search 29102892

If all goes as planned with ORCID development and summer launch of the service, I hope to be able to add a fourth logo & author identifier to this list.

Paper just out, on ORCID and collective action

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This paper came out earlier in the month. The piece was mainly authored by Martin Fenner who heads the ORCID Outreach Working Group that I am a member of, but I and another OWG member helped out a little. It’s nice and short, and open-access too, so just click the nice super-short DOI URL below to get it and start reading!:

Fenner, M., Gómez, C.G. & Thorisson, G.A. Key Issue Collective Action for the Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID). Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community 24, 277-279 (2011). http://doi.org/bc8cfv

[..] The success of ORCID depends on a critical num-ber of enabling services and users. It is the perfect example for a collective action problem, described in detail by economist Mancur Olson in 19653: without selective incentives for participation, collective action is unlikely to occur even with large groups of people with common interests. What this means for the forthcoming launch of the ORCID service is that ORCID has to focus on incentives for individual groups of stakeholders, and that the adoption will happen in stages, adding value for a particular group at each stage.[..]

If you’re really keen to read more about this important initiative, I can  also recommend Martin’s paper published earlier in the year:

Fenner, M. ORCID: Unique Identifiers for Authors And Contributors. Information Standards Quarterly 23 (2011). http://doi.org/gx4

In this article I want to describe some of the important decisions that were made in order to ensure widespread adoption, and therefore success, of the ORCID service.





Which language? Or both

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Now for a not-terribly-insightful post (sorry!): the question of whether to blog in English (the international language of science) or in my native Icelandic. Or perhaps both?

On the one hand, one might argue that it is my duty, of sorts (and matter of national pride) to write in Icelandic, since it is my native language and especially since I am now moving base from the UK to Reykjavik. I should take cue from some of my colleagues, like the recently-repatriated geneticist Arnar Palsson who blogs about various research topics and local scientific events. In addition to the communicative aspect, writing regularly in Icelandic ought to help me expand my scientific vocabulary and (re) learn to write after several years living and working abroad.

On the other hand, writing in Icelandic is damn hard! Also, not writing in English immediately cuts off a potentially big international audience, including all the nice folks I collaborate with at University of Leicester, in ORCID and elsewhere. After all, how many people working in science speak Icelandic?

So what’s a bloke to do? My conclusion is that I should, for now anyway, continue to write in English, and at the same time aim to provide a translated version in Icelandic for the occasional post that is likely to be of particular interest locally. Translating everything is too much work.

Ergo, enter my next challenge: figure out how to enable content translation in WordPress.

Why this new site? Practise my writing

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[This post is the first part of a multi-part series.]

A key motivation for setting up this site is that I feel the need to practice my writing. Of course, like many others I write stuff all the time but this tends to be mostly short E-mail messages. It’s  only the odd longer-than-usual, mini-essay sized E-mail that requires any kind of sustained effort and concentration, and I find myself up against a wall sometimes when needing to write a report or co-author an academic article.

One reason I can perhaps put my finger on is sheer exhaustion from spending the better part of the 2009-2010 academic year writing my ginormous ‘big book’ PhD thesis. That writing bout was almost immediately followed by three smaller writing tasks, during which I sometimes had huge difficulty putting even relatively simple things down in writing. I reckon my brain & fingers must have gone on some kind of strike and have been trying to recover ever since. To combat this, I want to simply try and write more often, as a means to keep my writing facilities in practice.  My inital aim to produce a decent-sized blog post every month or so.

Another aspect to this is that I hugely admire bloggers like Martin Fenner, Cameron Neylon and others, chaps who are very adept at putting together thoughtful, short (and sometimes not so short!) pieces on a range of topics. Though I can never hope to match them in wordsmithing and depth/range of subject, I’d like to emulate some of their style and approach and use this to help me become a better writer.

BRIF correspondence published in Nature Genetics

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A brief correspondence that I contributed to was finally published in Nature Genetics, reporting from the January BRIF workshop in Toulouse, France:

Cambon-Thomsen, A., Thorisson, G. A. et al. The role of a bioresource research impact factor as an incentive to share human bioresources. Nature Genet 43, 503-504 (2011). doi:10.1038/ng.831

BRIF is a one of several related projects undertaken by the GEN2PHEN Consortium which our group in Leicester is part of (and where my salary comes from!).  More info available on the community group pages:



Launched personal website – finally!

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After months and months of procrastinating, I finally got around to finish setting up this WordPress site. I intend http://www.gthorisson.name to be my permanent online home from here on, with the aim of blogging regularly about my research activities and interests.

As a general policy, I will use this blog as I do my  Twitter handle – namely for professional postings near-exclusively. I post personal status updates to Facebook and longer pieces to our family website, so please follow those outlets of you are a family member or friend from outside professional circles.

In my first few posts I will warm up the ‘typing fingers’ by writing about the various motivations for doing this, including practicing my writing and engaging with the online community. Stay tuned!