Despite many journals now requiring an author contributions statement, the relative involvement of each co-author in a publication is not quantifiable. Researchers calling for a quantitative approach have proposed a new percentage-based Author Contribution Index (ACI) in a recent article published in Research Integrity and Peer Review.
The level of contribution that a researcher makes to a publication or a group of publications may influence their future career prospects and be of interest to grant-awarding organisations. While several author contribution indices have been developed previously, they have not been widely accepted by publishers to date. The study authors suggest this is because they are either too complicated, inaccurate or not comparable across disciplines, articles and authors. However, the ACI is simple to calculate – based only on percentage contributions and the number of co-authors – and allows comparisons between articles with different numbers of authors to be made. The authors anticipate that the new index will complement existing descriptive authorship information and enable accurate credit to be attributed to researchers.
The developers of the ACI acknowledge that the model depends on authors first scoring their contribution to a particular publication and that decisions around the value bought by each co-author might vary between papers. However, they hope that introduction of the metric may increase transparency in scientific literature. Do we need a metric for author contribution? Comment below and let us know what you think!