Annual Meeting Reports

Authorship, Microattribution, and Social Engagement

This provocative session focused on attribution of credit for research and scholarly contributions for the entire scholarly community, particularly the question of what level of effort constitutes a contribution and how a contribution should be documented.

Euan Adie began by introducing his company, Altmetrics, which tracks and analyzes online activity involving scholarly literature. He discussed key principles of alternative metrics, stating that there are different definitions of what they represent but “what Altmetrics says is when you think of impact, let’s take a broader view of what constitutes impact, how we measure it, and the reasons why, to help people get credit where credit is due.”

Adie delved into different varieties of impact: who, how, why, outputs, data, and when. Altmetrics enables researchers to measure the impact of an article on multiple channels, particularly on social media. He gave examples of how data are useful for determining the impact of a paper by showing its Altmetrics score and how the score is related to an article’s mention by news outlets and in blogs, tweets, and so on.

“It’s the underlying data that are valuable,” he said. He then touched on aspects of Altmetrics, including data availability and infrastructure that enable bits of data to be tied together.

Laurel Haak discussed how ORCID works in the publishing community to aid in author and contributor recognition. ORCID provides a unique persistent digital identifier that allows researchers to distinguish themselves from others and works with the community to integrate the collection of ORCID identifiers in key workflows—such as manuscript and grant submission—to support automated links between a researcher and his or her professional activities.

Haak illustrated the issue of name ambiguity among regions and countries. “There are many different ways in which a person’s name can vary, and ORCID is relevant to every person in every country.”

She stressed that ORCID is not a profile system but rather essentially a database field that provides a unique key to connect researchers and scholars. “We allow publishers and other members of the community to consume or post information in a way that is meaningful to their users,” she said. Haak gave a “to-do” list for publishers, which included integrating persistent identifiers in manuscript submissions, incorporating identifiers into published manuscripts, acknowledging reviewers, and, for association publishers, incorporating ORCID identifiers into meeting abstracts.

The final speaker, Kira Anthony, discussed how the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) investigates levels of contribution and documentation from an editorial perspective.

Authorship is growing, according to Anthony. From 2009 to 2012, the number of Nature papers with 10–25 authors and the number of papers with more than 25 authors increased. She gave examples of collaboration among authors, stating that “it’s very important for editors and publishers to know, including [in] cases of large-scale collaborations, who was responsible for which aspects of a study”.

Anthony showed several examples of author contribution statements, including papers that listed various “groups” involved, such as a project-management group and a scientific-leadership group. “These statements communicate that everyone has made a significant contribution and that everyone is fairly being acknowledged for that,” she said.

Finally, Anthony discussed data citations. From the academic perspective, the best reasons to use data citations are that scientific data are going mainstream and that the data infrastructure is maturing. She mentioned that a few years ago groups began to think about data citations, and in March 2014, NPG (and other entities) endorsed the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. In closing, Anthony explained how NPG implements data citations and how Altmetrics and ORCID IDs are used in the company.