The C-Score: Incentivizing Collaboration

Rewarding the act of sharing research findings early, often, and openly

Given the increasing connectivity between fields and specialties of science, there is an increasing need for collaboration, yet a system of winner-takes-all is inherently unfair to collaborators. A different reward system could promote team science and thus promote the overall progress of the scientific enterprise.

The Collaboration Score will reward team members’ contributions to a project and the rapid, open dissemination of findings. An algorithm measures an array of activities (defined by the funder and/or participating researchers) that occur on a project platform. In addition, qualitative analysis is enabled through archiving and making searchable participants’ contributions, diminishing the possibilities for gaming of scores. Contributions might include:

  • sharing datasets, code and protocols early, widely, and often
  • generating and sharing hypotheses and open questions
  • initiating, moderating, and joining group discussions
  • posting, rating, and commenting on the latest published evidence
  • reviewing, replicating, and reusing co-investigators’ findings
  • demonstrating reproducibility of one’s own results
  • contributing statistical analyses, data curation, software development protocols, and project management
  • leading and participating in cross-team committees — e.g., for data standardization and group cohesiveness
  • iterating one’s findings based on feedback or new evidence
  • coauthoring and peer-reviewing content for open access dissemination
  • mentoring junior researchers

Learn more about our design prototype – contact info at rapidscience dot org.

Quote: Arturo Casadevall, Editor in Chief, mBio and Ferric C. Fang, Editor in Chief, Infection & Immunity, Reforming Science: Methodological and Cultural Reforms

Example C-Score


Frederick M. Ausubel, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School and the Karl Winnacker Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital; founding editor of Current Protocols in Molecular Biology; well known for pioneering contributions to the genetic analysis of host-microbe interactions.

Philip E. Bourne, PhD, founding Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Computational Biology and Director of the Data Science Institute at University of Virginia; previously he was Director for Data Science at NIH where he managed the Big Data to Knowledge initiative and Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Industry Alliances at UCSD.

James G. Boyle, PhD, Managing Director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute; as co-founder of YEI in late 2006, has forged partnerships and funding opportunities for Yale University innovators.

Amy Brand, PhD, Director of MIT Press; leading proponent of open science and co-chair of Project CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy), an initiative led by The Wellcome Trust and Digital Science to develop recommendations for a new taxonomy of research contribution.

Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, Chair and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University; well known for his publications and analyses of the funding pipeline in scientific research, biases and retractions in journal publishing, and the complex ethics of dual use research.

Melissa Haendel, PhD, Co-Director of the OHSU Library and an Associate Professor in the Library and the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology; interests include open science, promotion of research reproducibility, and development of ontologies and data standards.

Kristi Holmes, PhD, Director of the Galter Health Sciences Library and Associate Professor, Preventative Medicine-Health and Biomedical Informatics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute; interests include open science and understanding the impact of research efforts.

Julia Lane, PhD, economist and Professor at NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; Provostial Fellow for Innovation Analytics and Senior Fellow at NYU’s GovLab; co-founder of the UMETRICS and STAR METRICS programs at NSF among many other initiatives and institutions.

Jessica Polka, PhD, Executive Director of ASAPbio, a non-profit promoting transparency and innovation in scholarly communication at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, UCSF;  Visiting Scholar at the Whitehead Institute and Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School.

Kristen Ratan, MSc, publishing executive and well-known strategist and implementer of open science initiatives; co-founder and Executive Director of  Collaborative Knowledge Foundation, building open source solutions in scholarly knowledge production that foster collaboration, integrity, and speed.

Griffin Weber, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Biotechnology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, and the Director of the Biomedical Research Informatics Core (BRIC) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; research includes expertise mining and social network analysis; inventor of Profiles RNS, an open source social networking website for scientists.

Zehn Zhang, PhD, Director of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, Center for Biomarker Discovery and Translation, and Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute; research focuses on developing bioinformatics tools applicable to clinical diagnoses; co-developed the first FDA-cleared in vitro diagnostic multivariate index assay, the OVA1 test for ovarian cancer.