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CRediT where it is due: the Contributor Role Taxonomy for research journals Grant Jacobs Mar 19

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Five years ago I wrote a piece titled Retrospective: Credits, Dis-credits and mis-credits, recycling an article I wrote for my consulting website in 2002 triggered by an article written earlier that year by Peter Lawrence about credits for research work, Rank Injustice.

Yesterday the Wellcome Trust and Digital Science announced an updated “Contributor Role Taxonomy to provide a high-level classification of the diverse roles performed by individuals in the work leading to published academic research.”

My suggestion in 2002 was a simple two-level credit idea: authors and administrators. I was concerned that too complex a collection of roles might work against a scheme identifying being taken up. (I did touch on some other forms of credit, including a colleague’s forward-looking suggestion that ‘big data’ might impact on authorship credit.)

The announcement by the Wellcome Trust and Digital Science presents the work of Project CRediT, defining 14 categories of credit covering -

Conceptualization Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
Methodology Development or design of methodology; creation of models.
Software Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
Validation Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
Formal Analysis Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyse or synthesize study data.
Investigation Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.
Resources Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.
Data Curation Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later re-use.
Writing – Original Draft Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).
Writing – Review & Editing Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision – including pre- or post-publication stages.
Visualization Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/data presentation.
Supervision Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.
Project Administration Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.
Funding Acquisition Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.

The back-story of the project can be read on their website. A list of possible benefits is given on the project’s history pageThose involved in the project include several major scientific publishers. Publications and other activities can be found on the ‘Connections’ page.

What do researchers think? Or administrators of grant applications, potential employers, journal editors, …

Would widespread use of a scheme like this have an impact on Peter Lawrence’s and my original concerns, missed credit and ‘credit grabbing’? What about job and grant applications?


Other articles on Code for life:

Retrospective: Credits, Dis-credits and mis-credits.

External (bioinformatics) specialists: best on the grant from the onset

Developing bioinformatics methods: by who and how

Peter Lawrence’s Kafka tale of research grant funding

Retrospective–The mythology of bioinformatics

Independent top-tier open-access biomedical and life sciences journal Grant Jacobs Jun 30

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Over at Occam’s Typewriter[1] Frank has written introducing an initiative by The Wellcome Trust, the Max Planck Society and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to launch a new top-tier open access journal for biomedical and life sciences research.

Frank has most of the news, so I won’t repeat it, but to add that there is a lot to like about this initiative. Here’s a quick bullet-point list of points and thought gathered from Frank’s article and the Wellcome News press release and some of the commentary Frank’s article links to:

  • To open in northern hemisphere summer, 2012.
  • Edited by leading actively-working research scientists
  • Only one round of revisions – reduce need for modifications or additional experiments.
  • On-line only – opportunity to explore/exploit new formats and tools to present content.
  • No author charges.
  • No page limits. (But limited supplementary figures.)
  • Frank notes that the reviewers’ comments will be published anonymously and they are considering paying reviewers.
  • Open access: ’the entire content will be freely available for all to read, to reproduce and for unrestricted use.’
  • [own thought] Directly funded by research funders. In a sense research funding already funds journals, just via a chain of hands: research grant, levy to library, then library to publisher; also direct publication costs are taken from research grants. Here three of the bigger funders are directly putting funds into the publication for wider benefit. Intuitively feels good – at first glance, anyway.

Frank’s article has a links and quote to number of responses to this announcement, e.g. how this model is to be made sustainable. In particular, Declan Butler, from Nature, has a lot to say (see also the comments that follow his opinion piece).

On the mix of no author charges and open access: what not to like? I imagine this alone would attract submissions, and with it competition amongst submitters. It will particularly appeal to those outside academic institutions or institutions with limited budgets.

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