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Shake-up for system of credit in scholarly communication

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The Wellcome Trust and Digital Science have introduced a 'contributor role taxonomy' to provide a high-level classification of the roles performed by individuals in the work leading to published academic research. 

The organisations say the purpose of the CRediT Taxonomy is to provide transparency in contributions to scholarly published work.  Attribution and credit will be able to be assigned to researchers undertaking a wide range of roles 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 is aimed at improving accessibility and transparency around who did what to support peer reviewer selection and help researchers identify suitable potential collaborators.

Digital Science and the Wellcome Trust partnered with two information industry standards bodies, 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.

Amy Brand, VP for academic and research relations, North America, at 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.'

Liz Allen, head of evaluation at Wellcome Trust, added: 'It is great to see the project reach this stage. There has been so much support for having improved meta-data 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.'