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Author Profile Pages in the ACM Digital Library


Author Profile Pages in the ACM Digital Library - Overview


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  1. Description: The Author Profile Page initially collects all the professional information known about authors from the publications record as known by the ACM bibliographic database, the Guide. Coverage of ACM publications is comprehensive from the 1950's. Coverage of other publishers generally starts in the mid 1980's. The Author Profile Page supplies a quick snapshot of an author's contribution to the field and some rudimentary measures of influence upon it. Over time, the contents of the Author Profile page may expand at the direction of the community.

    Please see the following 2007 Turing Award winners’ profiles as examples:
    Edmund M Clarke
    E Allen Emerson
    Joseph Sifakis


  2. History: Disambiguation of author names is of course required for precise identification of all the works, and only those works, by a unique individual. Of equal importance to ACM, author name normalization is also one critical prerequisite to building accurate citation and download statistics. For the past several years, ACM has worked to normalize author names, expand reference capture, and gather detailed usage statistics, all intended to provide the community with a robust set of publication metrics. The Author Profile Pages reveal the first result of these efforts.


  3. Normalization: ACM uses normalization algorithms to weigh several types of evidence for merging and splitting names. These include:

    • co-authors: if we have two names and cannot disambiguate them based on name alone, then we see if they have a co-author in common. If so, this weighs towards the two names being the same person.
    • affiliations: names in common with same affiliation weighs toward the two names being the same person.
    • publication title: names in common whose works are published in same journal weighs toward the two names being the same person.
    • keywords: names in common whose works address the same subject matter as determined from title and keywords, weigh toward being the same person.

    The more conservative the merging algorithms, the more bits of evidence are required before a merge is made, resulting in greater precision but lower recall of works for a given Author Profile. Many bibliographic records have only author initials. Many names lack affiliations. With very common family names, typical in Asia, more liberal algorithms result in mistaken merges.

    Automatic normalization of author names is not exact. Hence it is clear that manual intervention based on human knowledge is required to perfect algorithmic results. ACM is meeting this challenge, continuing to work to improve the automated merges by tweaking the weighting of the evidence in light of experience.


  4. Bibliometrics: In 1926, Alfred Lotka formulated his power law (known as Lotka's Law) describing the frequency of publication by authors in a given field. According to this bibliometric law of scientific productivity, only a very small percentage (~6%) of authors in a field will produce more than 10 articles while the majority (perhaps 60%) will have but a single article published. With ACM's first cut at author name normalization in place, the distribution of our authors with 1, 2, 3..n publications does not match Lotka's Law precisely, but neither is the distribution curve far off.


  5. Future Direction: The initial release of the Author Edit Screen is open to anyone in the community with an ACM account, but it is limited to personal information. An author's photograph, a Home Page URL, and an email may be added, deleted or edited. Changes are reviewed before they are made available on the live site.

    ACM will expand this edit facility to accommodate more types of data and facilitate ease of community participation with appropriate safeguards. In particular, authors or members of the community will be able to indicate works in their profile that do not belong there and merge others that do belong but are currently missing.

    A direct search interface for Author Profiles will be built.

    An institutional view of works emerging from their faculty and researchers will be provided along with a relevant set of metrics.

    It is possible, too, that the Author Profile page may evolve to allow interested authors to upload unpublished professional materials to an area available for search and free educational use, but distinct from the ACM Digital Library proper. It is hard to predict what shape such an area for user-generated content may take, but it carries interesting potential for input from the community.