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Authorship issue

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:06 pm
by AJG
I am a postdoc in an academic lab, and recently have had a troubling issue regarding my authorship on a manuscript for a project in the lab. Basically, this project was started by a PhD student prior to my arrival in the lab, who has since graduated and left. Roughly a year ago my supervisor, the PhD student and myself had a meeting where we discussed how best to finish the project for publication given that the student would soon be leaving. My supervisor asked me to get involved in this project to help complete the figures and perform additional experiments that would be required to finish the manuscript. I was told that I could get a co-first authorship on the project if I did these things. Since then I spent considerable time performing additional experiments to add data points to experiments that the PhD student had previously performed, as well as new experiments for what would be the last figure in the paper. I also spent considerable time altering all the figures for the paper to bring them to publication quality.

However I recently had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the paper, and he now says that I have not contributed enough to be co-first author. His rational for this is that we now will not be including all of the novel experiments I performed, thus the majority of the figures are from experiments the student initially performed. I feel that this is unfair since I did spend a considerable amount of time adding data to some of the student's experiments, some of my novel experiments will still be included (probably half a figure's worth), and I prepared all the figures for publication. I told my supervisor as much, and he said he will decide whether I deserve co-first authorship depending on how much of a lead I take in writing up the results section, etc.

Am I wrong to be upset with this? Any advice on how to deal with the situation?

Re: Authorship issue

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:29 am
by PG
In the end your supervisor is the person who will make the decision about positions in the list of authors. If a lot of your experiments were not included maybe you can with a relatively small effort write a follow-up paper? With the information available it is difficult to say what decision that would be the correct one. The best path forward is to discuss with your supervisor and try to get a clear understanding about how he is thinking and why he thinks that you should be second author.

It is a bit unusual that the person who has left the lab gets prioritized. The more common question on the forum is the other way around ie you do work, leave and then get pushed down the list of authors.