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Slightly different from and generalising on interesting discussions like that one, I wonder whether the increasingly widespread practice of including author contribution statements in many CS journals would also be a viable practice for CS conferences?

I believe this question is a valid one because, while it is usual in some CS sub-domains to put the authors in descending order of their contributions, in other sub-domains of CS it is usual to use alphabetical order. Independent of the preferred order, it may always be reasonable to indicate the corresponding author. However, to increase clarity about the actual roles (e.g., first, senior, consulting, data source, equal, ...) in a rather mixed authorship culture and order-independent, I would consider contribution statements to be relevant for conferences as well. So, again my question: Why would or wouldn't it make sense to adopt the existing practice of journals also for conference papers (whether or not using a quasi-standard like CReDiT or short variants just saying "all authors contributed equally")? Would such statements be a practical means to, for example, increase transparency of contributions and fairness of competitions?

Some background: In recent years, the DORA concept is increasingly adopted, by hiring committees for instance, with one principle of it being to deviate from entirely bibliometry-oriented assessments of candidates. And it turns out that it is not straightforward to individualise contribution and to qualitatively focus on relevant research output of an individual without more informative contribution statements. Of course, there might be a host of other reasons for or against the adoption of author contribution statements.

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  • Why would it be unreasonable?
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:03
  • @BryanKrause, because it can lead to infighting among authors as too many questions here demonstrate. That leads to less collaboration - a bad thing IMO.
    – Buffy
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:12
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    @Buffy I don't think it's the author contribution statement causing infighting; I feel there is a lot more infighting over authorship itself, often heightened by the lack of recognition of different levels of contribution, which leads to less collaboration because adding more authors appears to dilute the contributions of everyone else.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:14
  • Oh, I didn't want to put too much stress on "reasonable" but I realise I did. Perhaps there is a better way to phrase my question: Practical, fair, ...?
    – mfg
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:21

2 Answers 2

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I don't think it would be unreasonable. I think that it would make more sense for journals and conferences to adopt something like the credit statement. That way, everyone is clear up front about who did what.

But, I agree with the above: the problem isn't necessarily the statements, it's more about authorship in principle. Just to give a personal example, I think that authorship should be discussed in the beginning.

I'm working on a paper with my mentor. The original idea for the paper, though, was my idea, along with my other coworker. When I offered to bring my mentor on the paper, he pretty much told me that me and my other coworker can take the lead, since he's excited to learn from us. So, we had the authorship discussion up front.

It's a small example, but having that discussion up front of who does what, who will be responsible for what, I think it would mitigate lots of the conflict that arises in these situations. I think having formalized statements helps for transparency purposes, but the key thing seems to be authorship itself where people run into problems.

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  • By ... I agree with the above ..., would that per chance be ... I agree with @can't stop me now. Some have their answer listed in order of votes. Apr 25, 2023 at 5:46
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I think statements of contributions should be a necessary part of each publication. Author list provides only a slight indication of the contributions, but different reasearch groupd function differently and arange author names with different criteria.

For example in some research groups PHD students formulate their research questions alone, execute the research and only rarely receive feedback fom the advisor mainly during the writing of the paper.

In other groups the advisor provides a well defined question and sometimes also the solution, and the PhD student only has to implement the proposed solution with very little intellectual contribution.

A paper from both of these groups would have the PhD student as first author, and the advisor at last. But only the contribution statement would differentiate the intellectual contribution of the PhD students on each paper.

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    Thank you, I can only second this viewpoint.
    – mfg
    Apr 25, 2023 at 9:26

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