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Contemporary Concepts in Publishing

ORCID and CRediT: Tools for Tracking Research Contributions


Nathan Boutin, Associate Editor

November 2020

One major challenge in the scientific space is correctly attributing individual research contributions across a wide breadth of scholarly literature. While publishers and archives put forth their best efforts to ensure that authorship is properly recognized, confusion often arises in many cases. Author identity can become unclear if names, particularly common surnames, are similar or institution affiliations are conflicting. Additionally, methods of tracking the specific roles of author contribution, such as manuscript preparation and project administration, are inexact at best.

Recently, however, organizations have developed new technologies to combat these problems. Enter ORCID and CRediT, two new avenues of data classification that aim to streamline research data attribution and citation.

What is ORCID?

The Open Research and Contribution ID (ORCID) organization was established to provide researchers a way to track their research contributions. Individuals can register for free to obtain a unique identifier known as an ORCID iD. An ORCID iD is added to the author’s name in journal articles to properly distinguish them. This allows researchers to link all of their research activities, including publications, data sets, affiliations with research institutions, and grants. Thus, ORCID iDs are universal digital identifiers, much like a tax ID or Social Security number, that follow the author across borders, publications, and time.

In addition to distinguishing your work from other researchers, ORCID iDs offer a host of other benefits:

• ORCID iDs can help track research outputs at university, department, and college levels.
• Global identifiers can open the door to grant opportunities and make applications for funding easier. Funders are embedding ORCID iDs in their grant submission systems, and governmental organizations, such as NIH, OSTI, and CERN, are supporting this effort.
• Using an ORCID iD allows researchers to keep a virtual, up-to-date curriculum vitae, reducing the need for a traditional resume. This means that all of your relevant field-specific information is in one place.

ORCID is the first widely adopted effort to address the issue of researcher IDs and disambiguation. ORCID supporters include all the major science and technology publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley, Nature, and Thomson Reuters. Most publishers, including those mentioned above, are now requiring ORCID iDs for all researchers associated with their publications. Other institutions that have integrated ORCID iDs include Hindawi, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Public Library of Science (PLOS), and Science. With these current supporters, there is a growing demand for researchers to use ORCID iDs. Since 2012, nearly 10,000,000 ORCID iDs have been registered, which is a good start to becoming the standard for authorship identification across academia. However, ORCID is still trying to reach a broader audience.

What is CRediT?

Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) is an advanced classification system that separates author research contributions into 14 categories. These “roles” detail the author’s precise contributions to the research and include wide criteria ranging from writing the manuscript draft to data curation. CRediT is essentially a set of descriptive metadata that specifies these important actions. Thus, in comparison to ORCID, this taxonomy records not only who the authors are, but specifically how they contributed to the research.

While most scientific papers include a disclosure listing author contributions upon submission, CRediT’s implementation furthers the rigorous approach to measuring research impact and investment, and as such allows for transparency across the academic publishing sphere.

Developed in 2014, CRediT has been adopted by big-name publishers such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, BMJ, British Psychological Society, Cell Press, “CPC” Business Perspectives, and Dartmouth Journal Services.

CRediT is beneficial because it…

• Reduces the potential for author disputes or misrepresentation
• Furthers meta-research initiatives
• Supports the recognition of individual contributions
• Cuts down on administrative burden

Moreover, CRediT can be easily implemented by simply assigning roles to your coauthors and adopting the taxonomic structure as presented by the developers.

The more ORCID and CRediT proliferate within the scientific community, the greater their effectiveness and practicality become. For more information on these initiatives, visit the ORCID and CRediT organization websites.

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