Researcher Identification Primer
A number of ostensibly separate initiatives, with diverse objectives, have begun considering the risks, benefits, and practicalities of unambiguously identifying researchers as they use and contribute to biomedical data sources on the Internet. The GEN2PHEN project is one such initiative, given its general aim of helping to unify human and model organism genetic variation databases towards increasingly holistic views into Genotype-To-Phenotype (G2P) data. More specifically, the GEN2PHEN project considers researcher identification to be an absolutely central part of how biomedical databasing, and scientific reporting in general, needs to be developed.
At the heart of this lies the concept of a user-centric system for researcher identification – in simple terms, one or more ‘ID systems’ by which individuals can be unambiguously identified along with various types of information that is associated with them, and where the individual controls his/her online identity and how/where it is used. Key examples of research-related activities and services that would benefit from such a system would include:
- Practical options for the global management of access privileges to sensitive datasets. Read more.
- Disambiguation of author names in the scientific literature and establishing/validating relationships between authors and publications. Read more.
- A solid foundation for permitting and tracking online scientific contributions, such as database submissions, scientific blogging, and community curation efforts. Read more.
- Security in Semantic Web applications.
- Biobanking applications, including services enabling individuals to track how data from studies they have participated in are used.
- Knowledge discovery applications using some or all of the above components.
At present, key Web 2.0 Internet technologies which can underpin such a system (e.g., OpenID - a decentralized, open authentication protocol, further described on this page), are being widely adopted. To advance this field, a community of key stakeholders (e.g., GEN2PHEN, P3G, HUGO, HVP) has been assembled and is continually growing. This group is exploring innovative ways to exploit this new Internet ecosystem to support research-related activities and services.
Please feel free to peruse the information in this primer, presented as a series of mini-essays listed on the menu to the left. Hopefully this information will help you become more aware of allied projects in the field, and the latest relevant technologies.
Note: These pages are an expanded version of the original whitepaper, initially put together by members of the GEN2PHEN project and circulated via E-mail in February-March 2009. We hope the ideas and issues raised stimulate debate and we would welcome contributions/corrections. Feel free to contact us directly, or participate in the discussion by posting comments on these pages, or joining our discussion forums.