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technicians and papers


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#1 fysio lab

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 06:32 AM

Hay
I'm a tech in a small lab...some time ago I was investing a lot of time in optimizing experiments and processing data...when the time was there to make a paper out of it I was withdrawn from the paper...it kinda hurt.
How do you feel about it? Some people will think it's normal not to put a technician on a paper, but actually I could have used it for future prospects...there's nothing I can do anymore, but I'm in doubt: work again this hard and hope to get some respect in the future or just come to work and do my job (as some people expect from a tech: they're 'just a pair of hands')

:(

#2 K.B.

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 08:05 AM

I don't know how it is where you're from, but in my country it's quite simple - if you're a technician and only do what and how you're told ie. you have very little or no intellectual input (creative work), just hard labour, then it's up to your boss to put you or not into paper.

(You may consult a lawyer what is and isn't considered intellectual input/work under your law and how it is dealt with in your country.)

#3 casandra

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 08:19 AM

Hi fysio lab,

Welcome to bioforum. What did you mean “your name was withdrawn from the paper”? Did you have a previous arrangement with the main author of the paper or the PI that you would be included in it? If you did or you were promised this then yes, it sucks and I understand why you’re disappointed and demoralised.

Unfortunately, if you’re a tech and your lab role is mostly as “the pair of hands” (no matter how competent they are) then being included as an author is not a right…or something you can demand. You’d be in the acknowledgement portion- that’s the SOP. However, many of us know techs who are always included in their lab papers so it really depends on the lab and the PI and circumstances e.g., there is a long list of authors and they decided to pare it down...etc

I know you’re feeling down right now but you have to move forward and consider your options. Have you thought about taking a masters degree at least? Or couldn’t you approach your PI and tell them that you have plans for this and it would be helpful if you have some papers to your name? It’s worth a try. You'll never know until you ask. Good luck, anyways.

casandra

Edited by casandra, 02 June 2010 - 08:43 AM.

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#4 pito

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 10:17 AM

Hay
I'm a tech in a small lab...some time ago I was investing a lot of time in optimizing experiments and processing data...when the time was there to make a paper out of it I was withdrawn from the paper...it kinda hurt.
How do you feel about it? Some people will think it's normal not to put a technician on a paper, but actually I could have used it for future prospects...there's nothing I can do anymore, but I'm in doubt: work again this hard and hope to get some respect in the future or just come to work and do my job (as some people expect from a tech: they're 'just a pair of hands')

:D


This is how I see it: there are 2 lab techs.

1. you are a lab tech and just do what you are told , nothing more.

2. you are a lab tech, but you also give hints , ideas and "change" , optimize things yourself (eg.: your boss tells you to do it like this and you say : it might be better to change this and that because my previous experience tells me that... and I know that ... ...) or I have done some literature review and...

If number 1 is the case: then its normal you are not on the paper since you just did what they told you. You have not done anything yourself but just did what they told (monkey work? is this an expression that is known in english?:()

if you are number 2 : then you should indeed be on the paper.


In my opinion the number 2 lab techs are also the lab techs that are active (reading literature, speaking out, checking things ....)

WHile the number 1 lab techs are most of the times those people that just come to work to earn they money and thats it.

Also: number 2 lab techs are most likely to be those that are interested in getting a "higher" or better place or those that want to start a Msc program or PhD.


I make a harsh line between the 2 types, but its just to simplify the things.

Edited by pito, 02 June 2010 - 10:18 AM.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some then not ask and stay stupid.

#5 Maddie

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:31 AM

I'm 100% with Pito :P .

I have friends who are technicians and who publish.
You should talk about it with your PI next time. Maybe offer help for writing it up (everyone loves a bit of help there :wacko: ).
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

#6 DRT

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 05:19 PM

Anyone has the right to argue their case for inclusion if they think they have had an intellectual input into the results, even if they are employed as a cleaner. It is a fight you will have to face throughout your entire career, even if you end up a professor, so don’t get too upset when you don’t make the cut but keep fighting your corner, no one else will.

#7 casandra

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 07:32 PM

Anyone has the right to argue their case for inclusion if they think they have had an intellectual input into the results, even if they are employed as a cleaner. It is a fight you will have to face throughout your entire career, even if you end up a professor, so don’t get too upset when you don’t make the cut but keep fighting your corner, no one else will.

Touché. You’ve got a very good point here DRT and I wholeheartedly agree but is this what is reflected in reality? How many techs are actually given the same opportunities to claim for authorship the same way as grad students, postdocs, res assistants and associates and more importantly how many cleaners :wacko:? It's unfair and you're right, we have to fight for our rights or at least try.

Many academic and research institutions base their authorship guidelines on the ICJME-Vancouver protocol and it states:

Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.

Here’s a question though….if one is assigned the task of looking for the right protocol or testing which fit the study design, optimising and troubleshooting, collecting/processing data, stuff mostly done by techs (though usually the final results go to someone else to make a story with) would this be then considered enough intellectual contribution to warrant authorship?
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
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#8 DRT

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:13 PM

But we are not arguing about obtaining the ‘same’ opportunities just ‘an’ opportunity. Following the guidelines; I would call the generation of the graphs and tables used as an important part of drafting an article. There is no indication if fysio lab got to take their data this far or not.
Perhaps the more difficult decision, particularly for someone who is trying to establish a career, is to ask to have your name removed from a paper because you don’t think your contribution warrants inclusion.

#9 fysio lab

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:45 PM

This is how I see it: there are 2 lab techs.

1. you are a lab tech and just do what you are told , nothing more.

2. you are a lab tech, but you also give hints , ideas and "change" , optimize things yourself (eg.: your boss tells you to do it like this and you say : it might be better to change this and that because my previous experience tells me that... and I know that ... ...) or I have done some literature review and...

If number 1 is the case: then its normal you are not on the paper since you just did what they told you. You have not done anything yourself but just did what they told (monkey work? is this an expression that is known in english?:P)

if you are number 2 : then you should indeed be on the paper.


In my opinion the number 2 lab techs are also the lab techs that are active (reading literature, speaking out, checking things ....)

WHile the number 1 lab techs are most of the times those people that just come to work to earn they money and thats it.

Also: number 2 lab techs are most likely to be those that are interested in getting a "higher" or better place or those that want to start a Msc program or PhD.

I make a harsh line between the 2 types, but its just to simplify the things.
[/quote]

Hope I might say I'm a number2 <_< : this is now my third lab in 10yrs. (2 previous labs offered me lots of opportunities to learn different techniques)
I was hired for experience lacking here: I offered my help to the colleagues and when some of my experiments failed I searched Pubmed, contacted other people (my PI is the type who is happy when he hears nothing...'e.th. going well? ok..proceed'). My PI also agreed to put me in the authorslist, but a postdoc threw me off...he thinks he did it all by himself..although he only gave some tips when I already got the experiments running..pff He's leaving soon...no big loss for the lab.

Taking a master...yes thought about it: it's pretty to dream about but reality is most of times something else...parents gave me opportunity to study..but not too long, got a job.. loved it, married and moved for my husband and put a step back for him, got really sick, finally recovering now...and now the last year I was on the good track untill I met this 'angry' postdoc...will it be worth the trouble? Even if I get a master and become a grad and in many years become a postdoc will it have been worth the trouble?? sorry thinking aloud.
Thank you for the input.
When possible I'll share my experience on this forum, thanks!!

#10 casandra

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 04:13 AM

Hope I might say I'm a number2 :lol: : this is now my third lab in 10yrs. (2 previous labs offered me lots of opportunities to learn different techniques)
I was hired for experience lacking here: I offered my help to the colleagues and when some of my experiments failed I searched Pubmed, contacted other people (my PI is the type who is happy when he hears nothing...'e.th. going well? ok..proceed'). My PI also agreed to put me in the authorslist, but a postdoc threw me off...he thinks he did it all by himself..although he only gave some tips when I already got the experiments running..pff He's leaving soon...no big loss for the lab.

Taking a master...yes thought about it: it's pretty to dream about but reality is most of times something else...parents gave me opportunity to study..but not too long, got a job.. loved it, married and moved for my husband and put a step back for him, got really sick, finally recovering now...and now the last year I was on the good track untill I met this 'angry' postdoc...will it be worth the trouble? Even if I get a master and become a grad and in many years become a postdoc will it have been worth the trouble?? sorry thinking aloud.
Thank you for the input.
When possible I'll share my experience on this forum, thanks!!

Hi fysio lab,

You can think aloud as much as you want here :P. Isn't there any way, as DRT pointed out, that you can argue your case for authorship inclusion with your PI esp since he did agree to do this in the first place? Everything hinged a lot on what the postdoc wanted? And you're asking if taking a masters degree is worth it, imho, this would depend on what you want or if this would figure into your long term plans. If it does, then be prepared to make sacrifices, if it doesn't, then simply do what would make you happy or at least content. Having a graduate degree isn't an end-all, be-all thing anyways. Hope you're feeling better now...

Edited by casandra, 03 June 2010 - 04:28 AM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#11 sera_tonin

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:15 PM

it does depend a lot on the PI...i worked as a tech for over two years in a lab where i was the only employee - my PI directed me, and i did all the work, in addition to trouble-shooting and interpreting some of the data. however, she wouldn't let me help draft the manuscript no matter how many times i offered to at least write the methods section, and wouldn't teach me how to do the statistics, yet she made me first author! and also included a long list of co-authors who had absolutely nothing to do with the paper. at the time i didn't realize how fortunate i was that, as a lowly tech, i was included at all, let alone given first authorship. it's my opinion that techs should be included if, as others have mentioned, they do more than just follow a protocol given them, and i think more PIs are moving in that direction - but the norm is still to not include techs <_<

#12 ocean_sky83

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 03:02 AM

Good day!

I hope you feel better now. Personally I think that tech name should be included in the paper too. Be it author, or in the acknowledgement section. I am sure that given your experience, optimising experiments, you must have read through a lot of literatures in order to be able to do these. I myself is a tech too. When my PI publish paper my name was included in the paper too. The thing is, I think it is personal if your name is not on the paper, if your PI likes you, your name is on it. If he doesn't then probably thats why it is not. At least they should put you on the acknowledgement section. When I first started working there, the moment they told me about their project, I told them I want my name to be on it. The next time if you are still in research, the moment they discuss it with you, tell them straight away, you want your name to be there. When I said that my PI told me they will "try" if it is not possible they will put it under acknowledgement.

I do not believe in those that said you are given a protocol and follow through thats why your name do not deserve to be on the paper. Do you know when I first started my project, I was given 2 protocols, of both they were wrong protocols given by my PI. So tell me about it, whats the big deal that you are given a protocol, so? In the end, a tech does most of the work, consolidating data, working overtime, reading journals, ensuring data accuracy, optimising experiments and so on. Is just a name on a paper, to them this is easy, to you, it can help your future career.

So what you are a tech now? If you have money and interest and a long term plan, you can do your degree, post grad and so on. The whole idea is you are not just a tech who do what they are told just for the money. I am sure you care about the whole project.

Recognition on the paper and the findings you have comes together. If either one is out, the other as well. If a tech slack on the job and the PI decide to remove the tech name from the journal, so thats understandable. But you work hard on the project, they have to put your name. Thats the way I know it works. Even it is not the author doesn't matter, at least it should be in the acknowledgement. You should talk about this before they start the project.

#13 lab rat

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 08:42 AM

Talk to your boss, and take your (hopefully meticulous) lab book with you to document your case. If your PI agreed to include you, but the post-doc threw you out, you may talk to the PI about inclusion. Your boss' authority supersedes that of the post-doc.

edited to add: Maybe you should calmly point out to your boss that many more people are listing "publications in a refereed journal" among their requirements for hiring new techs. Another angle: If something were to happen to him, say a debilitating stroke or fatal heart attack, who would give you a reference for your next position? The publication would be his recommendation for posterity. If he feels your work is not quality enough to support publicly, perhaps he has a recommendation on how to improve it?

Edited by lab rat, 11 October 2010 - 08:49 AM.

42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#14 fysio lab

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:47 AM

hay
I did'nt have much time lately to follow this venting-part of the forum..sorry. My boss was also kind of a victim of the post-doc. Forcing the post-doc to put me on his paper would have ended in serious trouble here...so for the rest and peace i just left it that way. (causing lots of inner stress: but what doesn't kill you ;) )
But it's a pleasure to hear that techs are appreciated..i just got bad luck i stumbled on an selfish post-doc.

Good luck with all your experiments and sometimes give your tech a hug: he/she 'll appreciate it (especially when experiments are giving a hard time)

#15 nightingale

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 02:27 PM

at the faculty i worked, the situation was :

technicians are asked to choose between :
taking a monthly salary until the project is done vs writing their names as authors on the paper ...

what are your inputs on this ???

i can see, that the project may extend far than expected ... but its up to the technician...

i know some who prefer authority, for future plans ...
others who prefer taking money ... not thinking of higher education, satisfied with their positions, and had their families and this adds more income ...

and Casandra : reading the ethical considerations you kindly shared, is it really the case always ... ???
i know Doctors who ask for authority just because they lend you a device of their own !!!

Edited by nightingale, 29 November 2010 - 02:29 PM.

" The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know ... "




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