Managing Author Names

Partners responsible: Swinburne University, University of New South Wales and the University of Newcastle__

Project outcomes

  • A toolkit of guidelines and open source tools to manage author names in a repository for use in identifying, disambiguating, matching and displaying name variations
  • Identify interoperability requirements with other key name projects and services including the Australian Access Federation and People Australia, as well as commercial services such as Scopus, Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar.

!Project timelines
It is expected that the project will take seven months to complete commencing in September 2008.

End of October 2008 Report on existing practice, research and developments in the area
End of November 2008 Detailed requirements statement and project plan
End of January 2009 Release personal name schema and prototype for comment
End of March 2009 Delivery of personal name tool with documentation and Final Project Review Report

Project goals

The project will examine the effective management of the names of authors in an institutional repository. Specifically, the project will develop a practical toolkit to manage author names in a repository, which will assist the effective matching and disambiguation of names and interoperability with other services. The project will develop linkages with author services from research citation services to examine additional services and functionality.

Project description

Author names vary in different contexts and over time. The legal name of a person recorded in a university’s Human Resources or financial system may be different to the name they prefer to publish under, are known by in their research community or would like displayed in a repository. There are many university systems that record names with their own rules and variations that a repository may need to interact with. Different publishers use different conventions for names, and a publisher is not necessarily consistent. People’s names may change over time such as by marriage or deed poll. Their titles may change as well as their affiliation. Occasionally, even their field of research may change. Many of the services and systems include unique identifiers which enhance matching and discoverability. Existing standards or “rules”, such as AACR, where one form of name is authorised based on evidence in publications, produce high quality results but at considerable cost.

The development of repositories provides opportunities to test other ways to achieve the benefits of authority control. A repository needs to be able to take account of name variations and be able to match, interoperate and authorise with confidence. This may be to match a record imported from a citation service to an academic already in the repository, for example downloading citations from Scopus or Web of Knowledge. It may be displaying information from the repository as an historical or current record of the person’s research output. It may be feeding other services such as an author profile in a Find an Expert service or providing data to discipline-based repositories. It may be using other services to authenticate users to do particular tasks such as update records, provide access to hidden datastreams, or support users to interact easily with a private workspace in the repository. It may also be assisting other services to manage names for the institution’s academics.

No one name is necessarily the authority. Each variation belongs to a context and a time. For the purposes of inquiry and reporting from repositories, there needs to be ways of gathering the research data and outputs appearing under these name variations.

A key component of repositories is the ability to download and store citations from publishers, particularly Scopus and Web of Knowledge. This is a widely used practice in Australia and provides efficiencies for academics in pre-identifying their published research outputs and for building the content of the repository. Scopus and Web of Knowledge are actively working in the name disambiguation and matching areas for their impact factor services. Other services such as Google Scholar are also working on name disambiguation and matching. This project will work closely with these services to leverage their work, ensure these prime sources of information are more readily useable and, potentially, feed into the development of these services.

Initially the project will analyse the issues and existing practice with the management and display of author names in relevant communities, including developments in the repository community, local university practice, the Australian Access Federation and the National Library of Australia’s People Australia Project. It will work closely with the personal name data from Scopus, Web of Knowledge, and Google Scholar.

Building on this work, the project will develop a practical toolkit of guidelines and tools to manage author names in a repository. The toolkit will assist in the effective matching and disambiguation of names and interoperability with other services.

A tool to manage names will be developed as part of the toolkit. It will be open source and implemented at the three partner sites. The tool will be licensed under an appropriate GNU licence, either the GPL or LGPL (, and will be made available through Google Code (

Due to time constraints this tool will focus on functionality around managing names, and will most likely be a stand alone tool separate from the repository. The project will investigate how this tool will interoperate with name services from major research citation services including Scopus, Web of Knowledge, the ARROW National Discovery Service, Google Scholar and the People Australia Project, as well as how data collected by the repository can add value to improve these services.

We see the most value in the guidelines around how to manage author names, and the tool as a potential enabler of these.

The project will ensure privacy and policy issues are addressed. It will investigate and report on the contribution the outcomes can make to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and other platforms for collaboration.

Project tasks

  1. Investigate and analyse issues and existing practices, identifying key information sources and services.
  2. Develop a practical toolkit of guidelines and tools to manage author names in a repository.
  3. Test the use and interoperability of the toolkit with other name services such as HR and grant management systems.
  4. Examine and test the toolkit for interoperability with name services of major research citation services, particularly Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar and Libraries Australia.
  5. Release the toolkit to the ARROW community.
  6. Report on how the toolkit can be used to support ANDS and other platforms of collaboration.

Project documents

22 August 2008 Final proposal accepted by ARROW Management Committee

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