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Postby Michael » Tue Feb 15, 2005 11:22 pm

I'm currently working in academia. I'm between my B.S. and grad school. The work I'm doing is great but the pay is not and a job offer that was made to me where I'm currently at fell through after 3 months of waiting around. Left a very bitter taste with the way things went.

Anyways, I'm wondering if I should stick out the bad pay to earn co-authorship on 2 publications we are working on. Will earning these greatly increase my chances for grad school acceptance or do I have a diluted vision. To me it would seem to be a high indicator of experience but to earn it I would need to keep my temp job salary when I could go for a technician position somewhere else.



Postby Emil Chuck » Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:46 am

In my opinion, not having been on admissions committees for graduate school: if graduate school is the destination of your choice for your next step, then I'd say make sure you get strong references. The papers no doubt would help you, but it's possible you may also have some other applicants in the pool who have published one paper even as a first-author. Make sure you have three to five senior-level people who know you well enough to write your reference letters (your current supervisor as one person, no more than perhaps one other person in your immediate workgroup).

If you're not happy in your current situation, you should consider moving on even if your salary were in the six-to-seven-zero range. If those authored papers are important to you, then your PI should be sure you remain on those papers even after you leave the laboratory. In order to do that, you have to communicate. Having your supervisor mention "He will be an author on two pending publications about..." in your reference will be good.
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Postby Ken » Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:14 am

I think it was the rare grad student who came in with any authored papers in graduate school. The fact that you have experience enough to be considered for authorship puts you ahead of where I was when I applied, so authorship should not be much of a consideration. You can easily get into a graduate school with no papers.

That being said, it can only help you later down the road to have those papers. So, if you leave the lab imminently, make sure you stay in touch, and if you did, in fact, earn the right to be called an author, bring up that point with the PI before you leave. It's not uncommon for authors listed on a paper to no longer be working in the lab.
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Postby Doug » Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:33 am

It seems to me that if you've already contributed intellectually to a project to earn an authorship, it would be unethical to be removed from the author list. It shouldn't matter that you move on. Does anyone have any experience with author removal for any reason after the work was done? I've seen it at the editorial stage, but this was a case where the lead authors were trying to include EVERY doctor (of about 100) who referred a patient to them for a clinical trial.


Postby MPB » Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:16 am

You're between your BS and grad school, so are essentially working as a lab tech. Do you know that your PI would include you as an author on the research if you stay? A lot of PIs don't include techs as authors except under unusual circumstances. If you're only assuming authorship on the papers, you might want to clarify that with your PI.

During my last year of grad school, I remember discussing the grad student applications for the incoming class with some of the department faculty. Only a handful of students had any publications, but those publications were seen as a definite plus. A big part of your job as a grad student is lab labor, and they want to recruit people who are going to get up to speed quickly. Relevant publications show that you are more likely to be able to go to work productively and quickly.

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Postby Doug » Wed Feb 16, 2005 12:02 pm

mpb makes a good point in that one shouldn't assume authorship. However, the point about being "lab labor," while probably true, is also maybe a little cynical. One factor to look for in an advisor (one that several of my potential advivors espoused) is that the role of the advisor (and grad school) is to prepare a student for life as a researcher. That is, get them in, help them make the transition from student to researcher, and get them out into the "real" world (however "real" the academic world is). If you can try to discern that quality from potential advisors, do so.
I'll also bring up a point that was discussed in a recent thread ("Fellowship-Take it or?"). If you have prior publications, it shows you already know how to do research. If you have your own funding going into grad school, it increases your ability to do what you want, since you won't be so beholden to any particular lab PI. Do BOTh of these things, and you put yourself in a very enviable position going into grad school and will probably have few problems being successful.


Postby Michael » Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:49 pm

To answer some of your questions. Yes I am what you would call a technician. From the literature I've read, co-authorship is obviously not rewarded for simple data collection but for interpretation of the data and conclusions upon it, which I have done. Our lab has followed this and I'm waiting to hear back from my PI for pre-approval on my situation.


Postby Michael » Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:57 pm

Forgot to mention that the scientist I'm working under believes I'm entitled to co-authorship. Also, I'm aware that if I were to leave now I would probably earn the co-authorship same as if I stayed. However, if I were to leave now the paper would take significantly longer and might affect the advantages to me.


Postby Kim » Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:25 pm

I have seen names removed from co-authorship.

At the final stage of editing a paper, if the data/interpretation from Person X is irrelevant or redundant to support the final conclusion, the data from Person X may be removed from the paper. And if the final paper contains no data from Person X, it is perfectly legitimate to remove Person X from the list of co-authors in my opinion.

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