Introducing the Contribution Role Ontology: Developing a sustainable community-driven approach to attribution

Open science, team science, and a drive to understand meaningful outcomes have transformed research at all levels. It is not sufficient to consider scholarship simply from the perspective of papers written, citations garnered, and grant dollars awarded. Biocurators contribute to research and scholarship in ways that are not always traditionally recognized. We need a more nuanced characterization and contextualization of contributions of varying types and intensities that are critical to power research. Unfortunately, little infrastructure exists to identify, aggregate, present, and understand the impact of these non-traditional contributions, such as software development or biocuration. Moreover, these challenges are technical as well as social and require an approach that assimilates cultural perspectives for investigators and organizations, alike. 

Here we announce the release of the Contributor Role Ontology (CRO), an open-source, OBO Foundry ontology that is a structured representation of contribution roles, built on the CRedIT taxonomy, for use in research information systems and designed for crediting persons or organizations. More info below:

Format: OWL and OBO formats
License: CC-BY (

This effort is funded by the CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health (CD2H) , and is led by Kristi Holmes at Northwestern University and Melissa Haendel at Oregon State University, joined by Nicole Vasilevsky (Oregon Health & Science University), Marijane White (Oregon Health & Science University), Karen Gutzman (Northwestern University), David Eichmann (University of Iowa ), Annie Wescott (Northwestern University), Patty Smith (Northwestern University), Sara Gonzales (Northwestern University), and Lisa O’Keefe (Northwestern University). The CD2H is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (Grant U24TR002306) to help guide the cultural and technological changes necessary for data and informatics to improve research and health care. 

For more info about CRO, contact:
Marijane White: 
Kristi Holmes: