Clarification on acknowledgement v contribution with CRediT



Does or can CRediT define what is an acknowledgement v a contribution and when it it a role or not…e.g. sometimes an author acknowledges a contribution. It gets confusing and could be open to interpretation.


I copy @Liz.Allen @gabe-harp @helena @hfalk1 @AriesAlison for their views.

Thanks for the question!


Here’s an example: Cell Press, which has all adopted CRediT on a voluntary basis across all of its journals, put forward definitions of Authorship, Author Contributions, and Acknowledgements in its Information for Authors at


Our authorship policy accommodates diverse types of research, providing a framework that makes clear the contributions of each author.

Author Contributions Section: To make author contributions transparent, all research articles should include an Author Contributions section. Please describe the contributions concisely and use initials to indicate author identity. We encourage you to use the CRediT taxonomy, which offers standardized descriptions of author contributions. An Authors Contributions section is not required for front-matter articles.

Corresponding Author and Lead Contact: You must designate at least one corresponding author and only one lead contact.

Corresponding Author: We prefer that each paper have a single corresponding author because we think that the ownership and responsibility that are inherent in corresponding authorship will promote best practices in design and performance of experiments, analysis of results, organization and retention of original data, and preparation of figures and text.

That said, we understand that, for some studies, particularly for interdisciplinary ones, multiple authors may bear the responsibilities of a corresponding author. If you feel strongly and have compelling reasons, you may include additional corresponding authors. We may ask you to explain your rationale and to verify that all corresponding authors understand their responsibilities (listed below). We ask that you describe each corresponding author’s specific contributions in the Author Contributions section.

Lead Contact: The lead contact is the corresponding author who is also responsible for communicating with the journal (before and after publication) and accountable for fulfilling requests for reagents and resources and for arbitrating decisions and disputes. For research papers with multiple corresponding authors, please designate one (and only one) corresponding author as the lead contact. If there is only one corresponding author, then that author is automatically also the lead contact. You should denote the lead contact with a footnote in the author list (e.g., “5Lead Contact”).

Responsibilities of the Corresponding Author and Lead Contact: All corresponding authors bear responsibilities 1–8 below; the lead contact additionally bears responsibility 9.

  1. Supervising the work

  2. Being responsible for all data, figures, and text

  3. Ensuring that authorship is granted appropriately to contributors

  4. Ensuring that all authors approve the content and submission of the paper

  5. Ensuring adherence to all editorial and submission policies

  6. Identifying and declaring conflicts of interest on behalf of all authors

  7. Identifying and disclosing related work by any co-authors under consideration elsewhere

  8. Archiving unprocessed data and ensuring that figures accurately present the original data (see Data Archiving section)

  9. Communicating with the journal (before and after publication), being accountable for fulfilling requests for reagents and resources, and arbitrating decisions and disputes

Equal Contributions: The lead contact is the only designation that we strictly limit to one author. In addition to noting corresponding authors with an asterisk, you may use numbered footnotes to designate senior authors and otherwise equally contributing authors. The following footnote should be used for authors who have made equal contributions: “6These authors contributed equally”. Senior authors can be designated with a footnote, e.g., “6Senior author”. Please use the Author Contributions section of the manuscript to more fully describe each author’s specific contributions.

Authorship Disputes: All authors should discuss and agree on author order and authorship designations. We expect that everyone listed as an author contributed substantively to the paper.

We do not adjudicate authorship disputes. These disputes should be resolved by the researchers involved and/or their institutions. If we become aware of a dispute we will suspend consideration of the paper until the dispute is resolved. In this case (and when authors request changes to authorship) authorship should be approved in writing by all authors.

Author Contributions

This section is required for all papers. Please use it to concisely describe each author’s contributions, using initials to indicate each author’s identity. We encourage you to use the CRediT taxonomy, but you can also use a traditional format (e.g., “A.B. and C.D. conducted the experiments; E.F. designed the experiments and wrote the paper.”).


Use this section to acknowledge contributions from non-authors, list funding sources, and declare any conflicts of interest. As this section contains important information and many funding bodies require inclusion of grant numbers here, please check it carefully.



Thank you Holly. So yes wondering if CRediT will or could include something like this that spells out when to use each type - e.g. if I provide case study and the author includes that in the paper is that a contribution (what kind?) or acknowledgement. Is it length based e.g. if >10% of word count. What is the author amended it a little and the ‘contributor’ did not see the final paper to review it before it was submitted. It would be really good if we could clarify when to use contributor and when to acknowledgements in a standard way maybe with some examples.