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Author Credit: 2016 Roundup

In previous blog posts we’ve talked about PLOS’ efforts to improve recognition for authors and increase transparency around individuals’ contributions to published research. In today’s post, we review our 2016 accomplishments in this area and the progress we’ve made toward our goals.

ORCID Implementation

In January, PLOS, eLife, the Royal Society and other major publishers developed and signed an Open Letter committing to follow best practices when collecting, processing and displaying ORCID iDs. Signatories further agreed to begin requiring by year end that each corresponding author associate their name with an ORCID iD and 15 signatories have already implemented this policy. As of December 7 this is now also PLOS policy—corresponding authors on manuscripts coming in to either of our submission systems (Editorial Manager or Aperta™) must provide an authenticated ORCID iD.

In preparing for the launch of this requirement, we tackled both technical and operational hurdles. But there were – and still are – behavioral changes needed. PLOS began capturing ORCID iDs in Editorial Manager in 2014. By the beginning of 2016 there were more than 27,000 authenticated iDs in our database. Throughout this year, we have actively engaged with our authors, editors and reviewers to encourage sign-ups; in addition to email campaigns and messaging in the submission system we have posted an informational page on our web site, updated our author instructions and provided how-to videos to assist our contributors.

As of this week, we have upwards of 54,000 authenticated ORCID iDs, more than doubling the count in less than a year. We still have a long way to go, however, as there are many more in our database who have yet to register!


From early 2016, we have been passing authors’ iDs on published articles through to Crossref with our metadata deposits. Crossref, in turn, communicates that information to ORCID; if the author has agreed to allow for updates their ORCID profile is enhanced to include the new publication. This auto-update function makes it possible for authors to maintain their records going forward without having to take action. It’s vitally important that authors provide their permission for this process to work.

Are you an author who’s provided an ORCID iD to us and published a PLOS article during 2016? Are you wondering why credit isn’t showing up in your ORCID profile? Watch our short video to see how to ensure you’ve given the needed permission.

CRediT Implementation

While ORCID allows us to know and unambiguously credit WHO participated in published articles, CRediT goes a step further and allows us to provide attribution for WHAT those individuals did in relation to the articles. Such attribution improves the ability of institutions and funders to more accurately evaluate researchers based on their actual contributions to published works, rather than by the journals in which those articles appear.

While PLOS has for many years required contributions for each of the named authors to any submitted work, in 2016 we adopted the CRediT taxonomy of contributions. CRediT is a community-developed open standard intended to replace over time the many disparate lists – or free-text – that publishers have been using for this purpose. More information is provided in our instructions for authors.

We are gathering data on how the CRediT taxonomy is being used by our authors and will be analyzing and sharing that out in 2017.

Looking Ahead

Progress in these two areas – uniquely identifying and crediting authors and gathering standardized author contributions – are major steps along the path of providing improved attribution and transparency in scholarly publishing. PLOS will continue to provide or adopt new tools and services that help accelerate the pace and transparency of scientific research and will continue to collaborate with others to establish ways to speed publication, improve the author experience and advance standards for reporting and reproducing research.

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