A systematic scoping review of the ethics of Contributor Role Ontologies and Taxonomies

Mohammad Hosseini*, Bert Gordijn, Q. Eileen Wafford, Kristi L. Holmes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Contributor Role Ontologies and Taxonomies (CROTs) provide a standard list of roles to specify individual contributions to research. CROTs most common application has been their inclusion alongside author bylines in scholarly publications. With the recent uptake of CROTs among publishers –particularly the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT)– some have anticipated a positive impact on ethical issues regarding the attribution of credit and responsibilities, but others have voiced concerns about CROTs shortcomings and ways they could be misunderstood or have unintended consequences. Since these discussions have never been consolidated, this review collated and explored published viewpoints about the ethics of CROTs. After searching Ovid Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, 30 papers met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. We identified eight themes and 20 specific issues related to the ethics of CROTs and provided four recommendations for CROT developers, custodians, or others seeking to use CROTs in their workflows, policy and practice: 1) Compile comprehensive instructions that explain how CROTs should be used; 2) Improve the coherence of used terms, 3) Translate roles in languages other than English, 4) Communicate a clear vision about future development plans and be transparent about CROTs’ strengths and weaknesses. We conclude that CROTs are not the panacea for unethical attributions and should be complemented with initiatives that support social and infrastructural transformation of scholarly publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAccountability in Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Contributor Role Ontology and Taxonomy
  • Contributor roles
  • authorship
  • research integrity
  • thics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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