How does Overton know about author affiliations?

Details how Overton links scholarly books and articles back to specific researchers and their institutions

Overton gets affiliation data from OpenAlex, an open database of scholarly metadata for books and papers.

OpenAlex in turn inherited historical affiliation data from Microsoft Academic, which is what Overton used before it closed in December 2021. OpenAlex now gets affiliation data from “both structured and unstructured sources” – a mix of publisher websites and affiliation metadata in databases like Crossref and ORCID.


The quantity and quality of metadata for papers varies – for newer papers publishers often make it easy to see who the authors are and what institutions they are affiliated with, but this isn’t the case with older books and papers.

Speaking very generally about 80% of the scholarly papers seen by Overton have affiliation data available.

We’re able to help customers improve this by automatically collecting data from their CRIS – though this is is a custom service and typically requires some development work.

It can also be improved in the medium/long term by asking authors to claim their work on their ORCID profiles.

What counts as a standalone institution?

Affiliations from both Microsoft Academic and OpenAlex are keyed to GRID IDs (GRID is a database of academic institutions) though OpenAlex primary uses ROR IDs as GRID has been discontinued.

This is important as it in turn determines the “level” of institution that Overton recognizes – if an affiliation has a top level GRID ID then Overton will recognize it as a standalone institution. This means that individual schools and departments aren’t recognized individually: the affiliation “rolls up” to the parent university.

A further nuance is that in GRID teaching hospitals attached to universities are typically treated as separate organizations, with their own GRID ID – this means that inside Overton searching for research from a given university won’t include research from any attached hospitals.

Updated on February 7, 2024

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