Giving CRediT Where Credit is Due!

I recently attended the NISO Plus 2021 Conference. The virtual program was filled with rich and informative sessions with a few stand-outs to include one on the value and challenges of the CRediT Taxonomy.

CRediT, which stands for Contributor Roles Taxonomy, grew from the realization that authorship and how researchers are listed on scholarly outputs fails to represent the full range of contributions made by these researchers and often doesn’t paint the full picture of the work done by each of the listed authors on the research publication. In mid-2012, the Wellcome Trust and Harvard University co-hosted a workshop to bring individuals from the publishing world, funders, and academics together to discuss alternative models to recognize research contributions. After this workshop, a pilot project was conceived, focused on developing a draft taxonomy of contributor roles that could be used. The outcome of the pilot project is described in a Nature commentary.

The end result is CRediT, 14 high-level roles that can be used to demonstrate a researcher’s contributions to the scientific scholarly output. Moving from authorship to contributorship, the researcher could be assigned to one or more roles such as: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal Analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Software, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, and Writing – review & editing.

Two of the presenters at this session spoke of applications to support CRediT. Alex Holcombe, a professor of psychology at the University of Sydney, developed Tenzing with his colleagues to make it easier for authors to indicate who did what on their research projects, and provided a way to format this information so that it could be easily added to their manuscript when submitting to journals that use the CRediT standard. The second speaker, Richard Wynne, founder of Rescognito, developed a tool as a free service to help recognize and promote good research. The application is built on ORCIDs which identifies who did the work and Rescognito helps to answer the question, “what did the authors’ contribute?”

The list of publishers adopting CRediT is constantly evolving and include: Cell Press, eLife, Elsevier, Oxford University Press, PLOS, Springer Nature, Wiley, and Wolters Kluwer. These are all publishers that are familiar to the MSK research community.

In reflecting about the scholarly contributions by MSK researchers and this session, I am excited for the possibilities of leveraging the Contributor Roles Taxonomy to expand how we present our authors. By identifying their level of contributions, we would be able to provide transparency into what each author did. This information could be display and highlighted in their Synapse work records or on their Research Activity Dashboards.

Donna Gibson
Director of Library Services