In research, most of the time this question does not come up until it is time to publish. Who did what? This question is essential, it will determine how authorship is distributed and ultimately how credit for the work is attributed. But very often, this information is not communicated, and although first authors are generally the do-ers and last authors the managers, there is a sea of unknowns between the two. This makes judging achievements based on authorship incredibly unreliable. PLOS journals and others already require precise descriptions of how authors contributed to the work. However terminologies can vary across journals, which prevents any real use of the information to assign credit.
In an attempt to solve the issue, the Wellcome Trust (Liz Allen) and Digital Science (Amy Brand) launched a new project called CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) last June. CRediT is now proposing a standard taxonomy composed of 14 defined roles such as “conceptualization”, “resources”, “supervision”, “writing – review & editing”… You can view them all here.
The CRediT project is now asking everyone to provide feedback on the taxonomy. If researchers show their interest in such a standard by helping to define it, there is more chance that journals will pick it up. And eventually that actual credit and career advancement are based on this system. So don’t hesitate to speak out your mind and spread the word.