Review for "Transparency In Authors9 Contributions And Responsibilities To Promote Integrity In Scientific Publication"

Completed on 28 Jun 2017 by Liz Allen. Sourced from http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/05/20/140228.

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Comments to author

This is a really useful and timely piece – publishers are key to ensuring that important metadata around research outputs are captured (such contributions). The publisher focus does mean however that a number of the practical uses of CRediT have been omitted; if included these would further enhance the case for the steps recommended in the piece.
For example, while the piece does argue that funding agencies could play a key role in encouraging the uptake of CRediT, it does not describe the value that more information around contributions could have to funders; for example, being able to easily identify potential grant peer reviewers with a defined specialism (e.g. statistician; data curator), or supporting grant-making. CRediT could also assist researchers to identify and forge collaborations with individuals with specific skills, across discipline, sectors and the world. The cross-sector use cases are set out in https://www.nature.com/news... and also http://openscholar.mit.edu/... (neither currently referenced in this piece).

There are also other pieces of metadata that should (could) be easily agreed upon and captured as part of the scholarly output infrastructure – key among these are funding information and research institution/affiliation. Research evaluators (including funding agencies) have long struggled to easily access, in usable formats, key pieces of information included in/associated with published research output. Much of the information that is useful for evaluators is either missing and/or captured in unstructured and inconsistent formats across publishing outlets – often in an address field or in an acknowledgement or funding section. If publishers can help to develop greater meta-data standards, this would be an important step forward – and support organisations such as ORCID to build the infrastructure to connect researchers to research more effectively and efficiently.

On a personal note I do not agree with the proposal (p7) to: ‘allow authors to put percentages of effort in each category’ or ‘ allowing the team to assign percentages of effort to each of the contributors in each category’. This is not how research works, is likely to lead to spurious and unhelpful estimates that undermine the practical usefulness for which CRediT was designed – to simply provide more transparency and clarity about who did what with a range of practical uses. Furthermore, such fractionalisation has the potential to exacerbate any researcher conflict/completion/ hierarchies around researcher ‘importance’ that CRediT was supposed to alleviate!