Nicole Vasilevsky's blog

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: 

Nicole Vasilevsky

FORCE11 Member since March 27, 2013


Nicole received her PhD in Cell Biology in 2009 from Oregon Health & Science University, where she studied protein signaling in a cancer immunotherapy model. She has a BA in Biology from Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.
Nicole Vasilevsky is a biocurator and ontologist in the Translational and Integrative Sciences Lab at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. 
Nicole's resarch focuses on development and application of semantic technologies to facilitate new knowledge discovery and promote scientific reproducibility. She develops biomedical ontologies and data standards for phenotypes, diseases and related biomedical domains with the goal of improving disease diagnostics and health outcomes. Other areas of her work including developing methods and best practices with respect to data integration and data quality. She has made significant contributions to science in the area of scientific reproducibility, demonstrating a lack of uniquely identifying information in methods sections in publications, as well an evaluation of current journals data sharing policies. With regard to clinical and translational impact, she has contributed to layperson accessible phenotyping standards and clinical phenotyping and disease diagnosis through her work with the Monarch Initiative, and the Gabriella Miller Kids First Data Resource Center. She contributes to the Architecting Attribution and Edu-harmonization projects as part of the CTSA National Center for Data to Health Initiative.
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