Enabling the Contributor Roles Taxonomy for author contributions

We are pleased to announce the introduction of the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) for author contributions at eLife.

The average number of authors per paper in scientific and medical publishing has increased significantly over the last 80 years, and it has become increasingly problematic to use author order as a proxy for someone’s contributions to a research project (Brand et al., Beyond authorship: attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit, Learned Publishing, 28: 151–155 doi:10.1087/20150211).

Coordinated by the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information (CASRAI), the CRediT taxonomy “aims to provide transparency to the contributions of researchers to scholarly published work, to enable discoverability and to improve attribution, credit, and accountability” (CRediT fact sheet).

eLife will continue to follow the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) for authorship and contributorship and we will continue to contact co-authors as papers are sent for peer review to approve of the submission of the manuscript, its content, authorship, and the order of authorship.

Previously the corresponding author would indicate author contributions as free text or from five preset selections: conception and design; acquisition of data; analysis and interpretation of data; drafting or revising the article; and contributed unpublished, essential data or reagents (shown below).

Former choice options for author contributions

In published papers, these statements are presented for each author as such:

View of the new attributions on a published paper page

Now the corresponding author will be able to select from a more comprehensive list of options (the descriptions are adapted from Brand et al., Beyond authorship: attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit):

  • Conceptualization: ideas; formulation of the overarching research goals and aims
  • Methodology: development or design of methodology or creation of models
  • Software: programming; software development; designing computer programs; implementation of computer code or algorithms; testing code components
  • Validation: verification of the replication and reproducibility of results, experiments, or other research outputs
  • Formal analysis: application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other techniques to analyse or synthesise data
  • Investigation: conducting the research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments or data collection
  • Resources: provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or analysis tools
  • Data curation: annotation, scrubbing, or maintenance of research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself)
  • Writing—original draft: preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft
  • Writing—review & editing: critical review, commentary, or revision
  • Visualization: preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically data presentation or visualisation
  • Supervision: oversight and leadership responsibilities, including mentorship
  • Project administration: coordination of the research activity planning and execution
  • Funding acquisition: acquisition of financial support

Because we recognise the importance of more detailed statements in some cases, we will continue to provide a free-text box, so that authors can optionally choose to provide further information, or indicate contributions that aren’t accommodated by the taxonomy (see below).

New taxonomy

We hope this new taxonomy will play a role in making author order less important over time. As more journals adopt it and the contributions are showcased by ORCID and others, we hope to see funding and promotion decisions explicitly reward the specific and varied contributions of researchers, rather than the number of first-author publications.