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Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

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Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby CJB » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:15 pm

Long story short, I came across the CV one of the former grad students from by PhD cohort posted to his Linkedin account. He has comments after each publication he has listed on along the lines of: "Contributed 85% to team effort" when he's listed as first author, or "contributed 25% to team effort" when listed as a middle author on an eight name publication. In some places he states which figures he contributed to.

I've never seen this before on a CV. Is this something that is expected and I've never seen or heard of it just because of my training and the mentorship I've received? How common or uncommon is it?

If you were doing the hiring for a postdoc position or and industry position what do you think of people doing this? Does this help or hinder?

I can see the logic when one is listed as co-first author on something (which is becoming more and more common in my field.) But it seems a little bit weird when someone claims I did 35% of the work for a paper where I'm listed as eight in twelve names. Is that man hours? Figures produced? If you did 1/3rd of the work, and there are two co-firsts, why aren't you up there as well?
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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby Dave Walker » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:16 am

Just my opinion (maybe someone who sees a lot of CVs like Dave Jensen could chime in), but I have never seen this before. For an industry job it seems like this person is nitpicking and too focused on details. I think it's unflattering, and I would never do it.

However, it reminds me of some publications that require submissions to justify each person's name on the author list. Maybe grants actually require percentages? Grant submissions are the pinnacle of nitpicking.

Also just my opinion!
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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:40 pm

Dave Walker wrote:Just my opinion (maybe someone who sees a lot of CVs like Dave Jensen could chime in), but I have never seen this before. For an industry job it seems like this person is nitpicking and too focused on details. I think it's unflattering, and I would never do it.

However, it reminds me of some publications that require submissions to justify each person's name on the author list. Maybe grants actually require percentages? Grant submissions are the pinnacle of nitpicking.

Also just my opinion!


I kind of like the idea, just based upon my need to have all the nitty gritty detail. But it's not ready for "prime time" yet . . . Just think of all the headaches this might cause, getting your co-authors to buy into the percentage you want to set for your "contribution." It's already hard enough to settle on the order of the names listed; adding this new dimension may be just the fuel that takes the fire to a whole new level!

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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby CJB » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:15 pm

Dave Jensen,

I'm in favor of being clear what techniques and/or data sets each author produced or contributed to. E.g. (Figures 1,3,5,6 are data I solely produced, I established expression and purification system used for figure 4 as well.)

I like that.

When previous labs I've worked in interviewed post-docs or technicians, it became clear that some of them were claiming experience or techniques because they were authors on papers that contained them while not actually ever having done the work themselves. That was a red flag that got them cut from consideration.

I agree that trying to determine exactly what fraction of a paper is mine is difficult. Personally, I've been on both the winning and losing end of this. Early in my career my name was put on two papers because I did one round of experiments that became one small panel in one figure for each paper. Those early middle authorships are probably the reason why I received the higher tier of grad student funding from NSERC here in Canada. On the flipside, I'm co-first on a paper with a student who left the lab six years ago, left disastrously poorly documented data, mislabeled constructs, and was wrong about most of what really only amoutned to preliminary data. Not a single shred of his data appears in the final paper and 80% of the experiments went far beyond what he ever attempted or proposed since the paper was my primary PhD project. Lab politics however, mean that this guy was promised co-first authorship. I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with "* indicates these authors contributed equally to the manuscript." But! It ain't worth the wear and tear on the chickens to try to even broach the subject with my soon to be former PI. I just wish there was a more explicit way to show that pretty much all of the paper was my work without appearing to be an egotistical creep.
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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby Dave Walker » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:58 pm

Nice anecdotes, CJB. They remind me of one from grad school as well. A medical student on his research rotation (only a few months long) was working with a famous PI. The PI had a hypothesis to test with a collaborating PI. This student brought samples from one lab on campus to another; the testing was done in the collaborator's lab.

In the end, a major discovery was made. This student was co-first author on a first-tier (Cell/Science/Nature) paper. He immediately applied for and received funding to start his own lab. He is considered a rising star.

The best part of this story is that your opinion shows what kind of person you are. Is the glass half-full ("celebrate the successful start for a budding physician-scientist!") or half-empty ("all the collaborations I've done got me nowhere!"). I plead the fifth on my own judgement!
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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby CJB » Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:37 pm

I think my response to that story is: Good for him. But he better be good for the next round of the game!

Unless someone is obviously a direct competitor, their success doesn't subtract from your own. Or at least that's what I make sure I tell myself to avoid developing CV/award/publication-envy that eventually destroys the quality of one's life and work.
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Re: Percent contributions to papers in a CV?

Postby Kevin Foley » Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:57 pm

I've never seen this before, although as DW said, it is reminiscent of many journals today that are concerned about authorship creep). However, I think breaking new ground is not generally something you should try to do when applying for jobs.

Yes, you want to stand out to hiring managers, but for your skills and accomplishments, not for your anal retentiveness (which is how this comes across to me).

But I think this person's underlying goal, to emphasize what they actually accomplished, is good, but there are much better ways to do it.

For example, try writing your CV (or even your LinkedIn profile) in industry rather than academic format. Academic CVs focus on lists of degrees, schools, techniques, awards, and papers.

In contrast, industry CVs focus on accomplishments.

My favorite acronym for this style is "CAR", which stands for Challenge, Action, and Result. I like to add an "S" to make it "CARS", because I think the Significance (or Impact) is what makes your accomplishments really stand out.

The problem with most academic CVs is that industry hiring managers have difficulty quickly understanding the context of what you did (remember you only have our attention for a minute or two at most), which doesn't help you stand out from your competitors, all of whom have listed lots of papers and techniques too.

So by telling us what you accomplished, focusing on the challenge you faced, how you approached it, what the result was, and most importantly, what was the impact of your work, you stand a much better chance of getting noticed (and getting credit for all those figures).

https://www.winthrop.edu/uploadedFiles/ ... andout.pdf
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