‘Credit’ Where It’s Due: Switzerland’s Frontiers Adopts the Taxonomy

In News by Porter Anderson

The research publisher Frontiers adopts the Credit contributor roles taxonomy for transparency and dispute mitigation.

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Pitiphat Kanjanamukda

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Fenter: ‘A Culture of Openness’
In Lausanne, the Swiss research publisher Frontiers has announced its adoption of Credit–its name derived from Contributor Roles Taxonomy.

The Credit taxonomy has been deployed by more than 50 organizations, according to its parent company Scholastica. At the heart of the intent behind Credit is a  high level of transparency in research reportage and scholarly publishing, focused on “who’s involved in all aspects of research processes in the increasingly collaborative and interconnected scholarly communication ecosystem.”

A great benefit of the concept is proper credit for all research contributors. The Credit contributor roles taxonomy has been used by publishers including:

  • Cambridge University Press
  • Dartmouth Journal Services
  • De Gruyter Opens
  • Duke University Press
  • Elsevier
  • MIT Press
  • Oxford University Press
  • Springer
  • University of Toronto Press
  • Wiley VCH
  • Wolters Kluwer

Classifying itself as the world’s sixth-largest publisher of scientific content, and the third most-cited such publisher, Frontiers asserts that its content has received at least 2.1 billion article views and downloads.

And one of the things most interesting to many outside the research-publishing arena is that the kind of disambiguation that Credit can bring to content is something needed in many associated fields. For example, if you’ve noticed the trend in the last two or three years toward multi-journalist bylines in news reporting, you’ll know that this, too, is a field that could benefit from an easily determined way of assessing the contribution of each person in a given news report or feature. As newsgathering and reporting has become more complex, so have bylines.

Credit’s Predefined Roles

By adopting the Credit taxonomy—introduced in 2014—Frontiers’ media messaging says, the company intends to acknowledge the diverse contributions of researchers, regardless of whether they’re primary or supporting contributors. Authors can select from a predefined set of roles defined by Credit and listed as:

  • Conceptualization
  • Data curation
  • Formal analysis
  • Funding acquisition
  • Investigation
  • Methodology
  • Project administration
  • Resources
  • Software
  • Supervision
  • Validation
  • Visualization
  • Writing: original draft
  • Writing: review and editing

Frederick Fenter

In a comment on the news of the adoption of the Credit taxonomy, Frontiers’ chief executive editor Frederick Fenter says, “We’re committed to continuous improvement and fostering a culture of openness within the scholarly community.

“By integrating Credit, we aim to further enhance the quality and reliability of published research, while also recognizing and celebrating the collective efforts of researchers worldwide.”

In Frontiers’ assessment, “The implementation of standardized Credit roles serves as a valuable tool in mitigating disputes concerning authorship and mitigating potential conflicts, guaranteeing equitable and inclusive acknowledgment of all contributors.

“Furthermore,” the company’s readout on the adoption of the taxonomy says, “CRediT empowers institutions and funding agencies to assess researchers’ contributions more effectively, enabling more precise evaluations of individual achievements.”

The alternative to a standardized contributor taxonomy like Credit is the sort of free-form byline protocols that vary from publisher to publisher, journal to journal, and research institute to scholarly library. Credit is coded in JATS xml v1.2, as described here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on open access is here, and more on scholarly and academic publishing is here, and more on scholarly journals is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.