Press release

Shake-up of centuries-old system of credit in scholarly communication

The Wellcome Trust has been working with technology company Digital Science to introduce a new way of classifying the roles of individuals in work leading to published academic research.

The new Contributor Role Taxonomy, named CReditT Taxonomy, will provide transparency in contributions to published work. Researchers can now be assigned credit and attribution for the wide variety of roles they may undertake, such as data curation, visualisation and software programming.

Furthermore, the taxonomy will be published to the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information (CASRAI) Data Dictionary and will lay the foundation for appropriate credit where it is due, fewer author disputes and fewer disincentives to collaboration and the sharing of data and code. The project will help to improve accessibility and transparency around who did what to support peer reviewer selection and help researchers identify suitable potential collaborators.

Liz Allen, Head of Evaluation, Wellcome Trust, said: "It is great to see the project reach this stage. There has been so much support for having improved metadata around the contributions to published output - technology can now facilitate this and we are keen to explore how the taxonomy might work in practice and to minimise any unintended consequences, particularly for researchers. Publishing the terms in the CASRAI dictionary will enable a range of pilot projects to implement the taxonomy to start, allowing the concepts to be tested properly."

Digital Science and the Wellcome Trust partnered with two information industry standards organizations, CASRAI and the US-based National Information Standards Organization (NISO), to achieve broad community consultation in drafting the taxonomy and testing its fit with a range of scientific fields.

During the latter half of 2014, a 17-person multi-stakeholder group composed of representatives from several publishers, funders and universities met monthly under the auspices of CASRAI to review and refine each of the roles and role descriptions. This group adopted the name Project CRediT, and have made available the project overview and the taxonomy itself.

As the number of authors on scientific publications increases, ordered lists of author names are proving inadequate for the purposes of attribution and credit. A multi-stakeholder group produced the contributor role taxonomy for use in scientific publications.

Amy Brand, VP Academic & Research Relations, North America, Digital Science, said: "Publication to the CASRAI data dictionary is a major step forward for Project CRediT because it signifies that the taxonomy has undergone a thorough community consensus and standards building process and is now considered ready for use by publishers’ partners. We're proud to be entering the early adopter phase of the project."