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Going beyond authorship: redefining research recognition

Contributions to medical research have traditionally been defined by authorship and publication in journals. While this is important, it has many limitations. For example, conventions for listing contributions in a publication may fail to represent the full range of contributions made to the research. Additionally, other contributions vital for high quality research, such as peer reviewing, largely go unrecognised. A recent article from The Scholarly Kitchen examines the recent rise in new opportunities for acknowledging research contributions, and the potential benefits these may have for the scientific community.

In 2014, Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) was developed to describe 14 roles commonly played by contributors to published scholarly output, with the aim of supporting adherence to the contributorship model and enhancing the transparency of research. Since its introduction, CRediT has been adopted by over 30 publishers including Cell Press, Elsevier and Springer.

CRediT contributor roles include:

  • Conceptualisation
  • Data Curation
  • Formal Analysis
  • Funding acquisition
  • Investigation
  • Methodology
  • Project administration
  • Resources
  • Software
  • Supervision
  • Validation
  • Visualisation
  • Writing – original draft
  • Writing – review & editing

Organisations such as ORCID have also implemented methods for public recognition of such research contributions. From 2015, ORCID offered the option of recognising contributions to peer reviewing, and in 2018, it added additional affiliation types, including one for membership and service. The latter is important as it allows recording of key volunteer activities, such as journal editorship and publications panels. However, the uptake of these options by the scientific community has so far been disappointing.

Despite the numerous benefits of using platforms for reporting research and making contributions publicly available, metrics based on journal citations remain the tool of choice for most organisations that evaluate research. Platforms such as CRediT and ORCID represent an opportunity for both individuals and organisations to redefine the research recognition system, and increase the transparency of medical research.

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Summary by Josh Lilly PhD from Aspire Scientific

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With thanks to our sponsor, Aspire Scientific Ltd


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