Transparent Authorship: Giving CRediT Using the Contributor Roles Taxonomy

A research project that leads to a published article may involve many people who take on different roles to make that article successful. From designing the study, collecting the data, and writing the manuscript, how do you fairly give credit to everyone who was involved? The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) provides criteria for determining who qualifies to be an author, as well as guidance for acknowledging the work of others who contributed but don’t qualify for authorship. However, the ICMJE doesn’t provide a standardized way to do this, leading to inconsistencies in how authors describe the contributions from non-authors. Even for those who do qualify for authorship, but who aren’t listed as the first or last author, the contributions of middle authors may not be obvious or recognized.

The Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT), first developed in 2014 and now an ANSI/NISO standard, provides a structured way to formally and transparently recognize the work of all authors and non-authors on a paper. CRediT is made up of 14 roles that describe how someone contributed to a publication. A few examples of these roles include Data Curation, Funding Acquisition, Supervision, Visualization, and Writing – Review & Editing.

How does this work in practice? Publishers can adopt CRediT by providing an opportunity for the submitting author to list the contributions during the manuscript submission process. The American Chemical Society, SAGE, and Elsevier are just a few examples of publishers that have either implemented CRediT or are piloting it. If the journal you’re submitting to doesn’t ask you about CRediT, you can still use the CRediT terminology in your manuscript. Have a discussion with your co-authors about using CRediT in your paper before submitting to make sure that everyone agrees.

You’ll also find CRediT included in ORCID and publishing systems such as Crossref, which will help provide a mechanism for keeping track and storing information on CRediT and making these contributor roles even more visible. Looking forward, expect to see a push to apply CRediT to more types of research outputs to provide even greater transparency in support of open science principles.

~Stephen Gabrielson