CRediT grew from a practical realization that bibliographic conventions for describing and listing authors on scholarly outputs are increasingly outdated and fail to represent the range of contributions that researcher make to published output. Furthermore, there is growing interest among researchers, funding agencies, academic institutions, editors, and publishers in increasing both the transparency and accessibility of research contributions.
Most publishers require author and contribution disclosure statements upon article submission – some in structured form, some in free-text form – at the same time that funders are developing more scientifically rigorous ways to track the outputs and impact of their research investments.
In mid-2012 the Wellcome Trust and Harvard University co-hosted a workshop to bring together members of the academic, publishing, and funder communities interested in exploring alternative contributorship and attribution models. Following the workshop (see workshop report), and working initially with a group of mainly biomedical journal editors (and members of the ICMJE ( International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) ) a pilot project was established to develop a controlled vocabulary of contributor roles (taxonomy) that could be used to describe the typical range of ‘contributions’ to scholarly published output for biomedical and science more broadly. The aim was to develop a taxonomy that was both practical and easy to understand while minimizing the potential for misuse.
A draft taxonomy was tested with a sample of recent corresponding authors publishing across science and was relatively well received. The outcomes of the pilot test are described in Nature commentary (April 2014). Since 2014, the contributor taxonomy – otherwise known as CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) has been widely adopted across a range of publishers to improve accessibility and visibility of the range of contribution to published research outputs, bringing a number of important and practical benefits to the research ecosystem more broadly, including:
(i) Helping to reduce the potential for author disputes
(ii) Supporting adherence to authorship/contributorship processes and policies
(iii) Enabling visibility and recognition of the different contributions of researchers, particularly in multi-authored works – across all aspects of the research being reported (including data curation, statistical analysis, etc.)
(iv) Support identification of peer reviewers and specific expertise
(v) Support grant making by enabling funders to more easily identify those responsible for specific research products, developments or breakthroughs
(vi) Improving the ability to track the outputs and contributions of individual research specialists and grant recipients
(vii) Easy identification of potential collaborators and opportunities for research networking
(viii) Further developments in data management and nano-publication
(ix) Inform ‘science of science’ (‘meta-research) to help enhance scientific efficacy and effectiveness
(x) Enable new indicators of research value, use and re-use, credit and attribution
The roles given in the above taxonomy include, but are not limited to, traditional authorship roles. The roles are not intended to define what constitutes authorship, but instead to capture all the work that allows scholarly publications to be produced. Recommendations for applying the CRediT taxonomy are:
- LIST ALL CONTRIBUTIONS - All contributions should be listed, whether from those listed as authors or individuals named in acknowledgements;
- MULTIPLE ROLES POSSIBLE - Individual contributors can be assigned multiple roles, and a given role can be assigned to multiple contributors;
- DEGREE OF CONTRIBUTION OPTIONAL - Where multiple individuals serve in the same role, the degree of contribution can optionally be specified as ‘lead’, ‘equal’, or ‘supporting’;
- SHARED RESPONSIBILITY - Corresponding authors should assume responsibility for role assignment, and all contributors should be given the opportunity to review and confirm assigned roles.
The taxonomy has been refined by Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration (CASRAI) and National Information Standards Organization (NISO). It is in adoption by Cell Press, PLOS and many other publishers, and has been integrated into some submission and peer review systems including Aries’ Editorial Manager and River Valley’s ReView.
CRediT roles can be exported as part of JATS XML v. 1.2.