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Authorship Matters – Using CRediT for Credit

This week we introduce the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT), a set of vocabularies for authors to describe their contribution to a research output accurately and in detail.

Inadequacy of Using Author List to Track Contribution

Authorship is always important for researchers. Listed as an author of a research output means the researchers have significantly contributed to and are accountable for it. Hence, authorship is usually an indicator of researchers’ accomplishment.

The most obvious way to denote authorship is the author list. However, the author list informs very little about the proportion and in what ways an author has contributed to the work, as the convention of the author list varies across and even within disciplines. Some disciplines prefer using the order of author list to reflect the extent of contribution of each author; other disciplines may list the author according to alphabetical order.

The increasing types of contributions to research output other than “writing” itself further complicate the situation. Authors could contribute to a research output by, for example, validating results, managing projects, or curating data. Recognizing each author’s contribution could help reviewers and readers facilitate assessment, evaluation, and collaboration. Therefore, there is a need to call for the practice of the author contribution statement and a set of consistent and transparent terminology across publishers and disciplines to address different types of authors’ contributions.

CRediT for Classifying Facets of Author Contribution

One of the vocabulary sets responding to such a need is CRediT. CRediT was developed collaboratively by a small group of journal editors, funders, and university administrators starting in 2012, and the results of which, after testing and refinements through broad community consultation, were reported in 2014 in Nature Communications.

This clear set of terminology captures the range and nature of contributions to a research output across disciplines into 14 roles: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Software, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, and Writing – review & editing.

In preparing the author contribution statement for their research output, authors could select the appropriate terms from these 14 roles to represent their contributions. The Cell Press provides an example of re-writing the Authors’ Contribution statement using the CRediT taxonomy.

Original:

S.C.P. and S.Y.W. conceived and performed experiments, wrote the manuscript, and secured funding. M.E., A.N.V., and N.A.V. performed experiments. M.E.V and C.K.B. provided reagents. A.B., N.L.W., and A.A.D. provided expertise and feedback.

Revised:

Conceptualization, S.C.P. and S.Y.W.; Methodology, A.B., S.C.P., and S.Y.W.; Investigation, M.E., A.N.V., N.A.V., S.C.P., and S.Y.W.; Writing – Original Draft, S.C.P. and S.Y.W.; Writing – Review & Editing, S.C.P. and S.Y.W.; Funding Acquisition, S.C.P. and S.Y.W.; Resources, M.E.V and C.K.B.; Supervision, A.B., N.L.W., and A.A.D.

As the example shows, authors could summarize their contribution into these 14 roles instead of providing a detailed account for the task(s) each author had done (e.g., performed experiments; wrote the manuscript; provided expertise). In using the taxonomy:

  1. Authors should select only the roles that accurately describe their contribution. It is not necessary to fill in all 14 roles because not all roles apply to every research output.
  2. Authors could select multiple roles if they contribute to the output in distinct roles.
  3. Authors could use specifications such as “lead,” “equal contribution,” or “supporting” to address their degree of contribution if several authors contribute to the same role.
  4. The corresponding author should ensure the description is accurate and agreed upon by all authors.

 

Over the years, CRediT has been widely adopted by more than 50 organizations, including publishers (e.g., Elsevier, Wiley, and SAGE Publishing), university presses (e.g., Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press), and open-access publishing platforms (e.g., F1000 Research, and PLOS One). Earlier in 2021, ORCID began to support the integration of CRediT roles alongside its existing contributor roles in the API. In February 2022, The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announced the formalization of CRediT as an ANSI/NISO standard.

As these organizations have adopted CRediT, authors using CRediT for writing author contribution statements could have their contributions to the research output recognized in their publications and personal profiles. In addition to reducing authorship misconduct, it also enhances the visibility and recognition of the contribution of researchers, especially those in their early career, in multi-authored work. The expertise and contribution ascribed to the researchers enable them to be more easily discovered as potential collaborators and peer reviewers.

More details about the taxonomy can be found here.

– By Lester Chan, Library

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published November 10, 2022