Scientific Author Contributorship Badges
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Scientific Publishers Give Credit Where Credit Is Due With Digital Badges

A trade association for academic and professional publishers has introduced a new digital badge program to indicate just how much individual researchers have contributed to a published scientific article.

Say hello to Author Contributorship Badges, a new way for research journals to credit contributors, based on their role in a project.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) announced Wednesday that publisher BioMed Central will pilot the badges on its online open-data journal GigaScience.

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The first article using the new badges—”GWATCH: A Web Platform for Automated Gene Association Discovery Analysis“—is already available. You can see them in action on GigaScience and on the Journal of Open Research Software website.

Here’s how it works, according to STM:

Once a paper is published, the authors of a paper will receive an email with a link to complete a form indicating which badges they earned. Once the badges have been issued, the badges will appear on the article page and on the ORCID [Open Researcher and Contributor ID] site.

The badges are issued through Paper Badger, an open-source platform connected to ORCID, a site that helps contributors build a portfolio of their work. Though this approach may seem simple, there’s more to it.

“It’s important to note these badges are not an image alone,” BioMed Central’s Amye Kenall wrote on the publisher’s GigaBlog, adding that they contain metadata that validates the badge.

An embeddable script allows publishers and researchers to display verified badges on their websites. That should help prevent fraudulent badges and encourage researchers to claim badges for their work.

Behind the Badge

Author Contributorship Badges represent a new way for publishers to promote transparency.

In the current system, “the ‘level of credit’ awarded to authors is largely based on the order of [the] authors,” Kenall wrote on GigaBlog. The badge system accounts for different types of work, based on a taxonomy of 14 different roles that contributors play in producing and article. “For example, it might distinguish whether the author drafted the copy, verified the results, or curated the data for the project,” according to STM.

And the badges may serve as a new type of resume for contributors. “The digital credentials may also offer additional job security for researchers, which could lead to social benefits such as funding, specialist training that is required, and respect between peers,” Science reporter Dalmeet Singh Chawla wrote.

The project, which has been in the works for nearly a year, is still in development. If you’re interested in contributing to the open-source project or providing feedback, check out the Paper Badge Github page.

(amanaimagesRF/ThinkStock)

Morgan Little

By Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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