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Who should be co-author?


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#1 Maddie

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:06 AM

The corresponding author question led me to this one: what does it take to be on a paper? How do you chose who desereves it? Should the boss of the lab always be last?
This became quite an issue in my lab and started creating conflicts.
Also, should the person who gives the sample be a co-author? What about a person who worked a lot on the writing but didn't participate to the project from the start?
I have a paper from Jones: "The distribution of forensic journals, reflections on authorship
practices, peer-review and role of the impact factor" in Forensic Science International.
I find it quite interesting but it's a journal read by a very small community and one you could hardly use to justify replacing your boss by someone else as the last author.
I'd love to know how things are going in your lab?
Still the old fashion way, or do you try to stick to the people who truly worked on the project?

Maybe the issue has been raised before. If so, I apologize and would gladly read the old topic.
Theory is when we know everything and nothing is working. Practice is when everything is working and nobody knows why. Here, we combine theory and practice. Nothing is working and nobody knows why.

A. Einstein

#2 hobglobin

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 11:03 AM

The corresponding author question led me to this one: what does it take to be on a paper? How do you chose who desereves it? Should the boss of the lab always be last?
This became quite an issue in my lab and started creating conflicts.
Also, should the person who gives the sample be a co-author? What about a person who worked a lot on the writing but didn't participate to the project from the start?
I have a paper from Jones: "The distribution of forensic journals, reflections on authorship
practices, peer-review and role of the impact factor" in Forensic Science International.
I find it quite interesting but it's a journal read by a very small community and one you could hardly use to justify replacing your boss by someone else as the last author.
I'd love to know how things are going in your lab?
Still the old fashion way, or do you try to stick to the people who truly worked on the project?

Maybe the issue has been raised before. If so, I apologize and would gladly read the old topic.

It was already discussed, but I'm not sure if it's lost with the "old bioforum"...
I guess there are no strict rules...everybody can especially as boss or professor or first author make his own. For me most important is, that the people who're involved in the project know it, before they start to work or help...otherwise conflicts definitely will come.
Normally the last author is the "grey eminence" or lab boss or full professor/institute director, the first author should be the one who did the actual lab work, or did most of it...especially if it's a PhD student who needs such papers.
The rest is open for discussions, rules of the participants, negotiations...
I had a post-doc who corrected my English and also restructured parts of the text to have a good and well-written manuscript, he said before that he demands to be one of the co-authors (his rule was that in every work he's involved more than 24h, he demands it, though I don't remember if it was really that long... :( ). But I had no chance...anyway normally such people who helped a bit or give a sample or whatever belong to the acknowledgements IMO...
Some professors arrange it that researchers they like or wnat to support and who need more papers belong to the co-authors, with a more or less good excuse, silly arguments or just by command...
I also got a co-authorship doing the statistics and helped to explain the genetics part of the work (that was done by someone else in a different lab who also was co-author then). The first author asked me if I want and it would have been stupid to decline it, though to be in the acknowledgements would have been enough too...
I guess the more people are involved the more this issue has to be settled before...

Edited by hobglobin, 24 November 2009 - 11:13 AM.

One must presume that long and short arguments contribute to the same end. - Epicurus
...except casandra's that belong to the funniest, most interesting and imaginative (or over-imaginative?) ones, I suppose.

#3 aimikins

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 11:17 AM

meh, depends on the lab group. the group I'm with now is very generous about technicians getting authorship, but many groups are not.

often it's political. we get fellows and collaborators on the paper that haven't done a damn thing towards the work.
"it is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education" -A.E.

#4 Maddie

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 01:04 PM

Some professors arrange it that researchers they like or want to support and who need more papers belong to the co-authors, with a more or less good excuse, silly arguments or just by command...


This is what, in my opinion, should change. Here is part of the article I mentionned:

"Over a career spanning 30 years, a productive forensic
scientist might have his or her name on about 100 published
articles, which work out to an average of about three articles per
year. By contrast, Table 9 shows the extraordinary productivity
of the top-10 most cited scientists worldwide between 1983 and
2005 according to information gleaned from ISIís databases.
This kind of prolific authorship is hard to believe considering
the enormous work effort such an accomplishment entails. As
might have been expected, most of the people on the list are
from research organizations in USA although a few other
countries are also represented, including Britain, France,
Germany and Japan. This phenomenal output of scientific
papers is only possible for leaders of large research-orientated
groups with plenty of financial support and scores of
postdoctoral fellows working at the bench and drafting articles
for publication. It is also common knowledge that at some
prestigious research institutions, the laboratory director puts his
or her name on every manuscript submitted for publication by a
member of the research group"

Table 9
Top-ten most highly cited scientists 1983Ė2005 according to ISIís databases
Rank Name Country Field Papers Citations
1 B. Vogelstein USA Molecular biology/genetics 361 106,401
2 S. Moncada UK Pharmacology 541 68,889
3 S.H. Snyder USA Pharmacology 625 63,106
4 C.A. Dinarello USA Immunology 862 62,365
5 P. Chambon France Molecular biology/genetics 686 61,884
6 R.C. Gallo USA Immunology 930 61,303
7 D. Baltimore USA Molecular biology/genetics 386 59,519
8 T. Kishimoto Japan Molecular biology/genetics 1406 58,621
9 A. Ullrich Germany Molecular biology/genetics 525 58,395
10 R.M. Evans USA Molecular biology/genetics 442 57,630


I know that some journals, very few though, now ask the corresponding author to explain what contribution each author had in detail. I'm not sure " I should be on this publication because I'm the boss" would/should be accepted.
I have nothing against having the boss on the paper. He can easily deserve to be last by being involved in his student's project, but if he is not, and has no idea what the paper is really about, then, I'd keep the last position for the person who truly helped/mentored/ taught the student, and eventually include the boss in the middle.

But maybe it's just me :D .
I'm just irritated by such an archaic process and even more to see that nothing really changes.

What? Did I just hear "Gosh, I wouldn't like to have HER as an employee" :huh: :lol:

Well, truth be told, my boss is very cool. I'm fighting for the others, the ones who suffer out there.
Theory is when we know everything and nothing is working. Practice is when everything is working and nobody knows why. Here, we combine theory and practice. Nothing is working and nobody knows why.

A. Einstein

#5 hobglobin

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 01:21 PM

I know that some journals, very few though, now ask the corresponding author to explain what contribution each author had in detail. I'm not sure " I should be on this publication because I'm the boss" would/should be accepted.
I have nothing against having the boss on the paper. He can easily deserve to be last by being involved in his student's project, but if he is not, and has no idea what the paper is really about, then, I'd keep the last position for the person who truly helped/mentored/ taught the student, and eventually include the boss in the middle.

But maybe it's just me :D .
I'm just irritated by such an archaic process and even more to see that nothing really changes.

What? Did I just hear "Gosh, I wouldn't like to have HER as an employee" :huh: :lol:

Well, truth be told, my boss is very cool. I'm fighting for the others, the ones who suffer out there.


But the boss gave you the opportunity to work in his lab...and holding a chair or having a professorship often means that you have no time to be in the lab, but to write applications (i.e. obtaining money for staff and or equipment), giving lectures, establishing connections to other working groups (that might be helpful for you). All indirect input that helps you. But most important is finally that they should have a reputation that improves the chance that the manuscript is accepted a lot...you yourself are normally unknown in the beginning and it's difficult to publish in a good journal then. Here the professor's name really can help directly...
One must presume that long and short arguments contribute to the same end. - Epicurus
...except casandra's that belong to the funniest, most interesting and imaginative (or over-imaginative?) ones, I suppose.

#6 Maddie

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 07:18 AM

Hmmmm :blink: didn't think about that (the "good reputation of the boss helps go trough the review process").
I give you that one because I admit that when I review a paper, I like to know who wrote it and which lab it comes from (not all journals keep the anonymity...unfortunately?).
Theory is when we know everything and nothing is working. Practice is when everything is working and nobody knows why. Here, we combine theory and practice. Nothing is working and nobody knows why.

A. Einstein




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