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Postby O.S. » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:30 am

4 years back when I started as a postdoc my PI asked me to create a cKO mouse. It was a pretty cool cKO mouse, so I said yes thinking that every single group that will KO protein X will cite my paper. I created the mouse and at my PI's request I shared it with somebody in my lab. That person has a paper ready to be published. I am third author (out of 4...)on this paper. All experiments in this paper use the cKO I created. Now, everybody who will cite the use of my cKO mouse will cite my labmate's work, so she gets the credit for my 2 years of work.
Is it possible to publish data using a cKO mouse but not describe the cKO mouse? My paper will take maybe half a year more, and I will also have to cite the other paper for the mouse that I created. But if this new paper doesn't have the description, I could still get credit for making it in my paper. Does this make any sense?

Do I deserve more than 3rd author? (I know 2nd author did not contribute with anything, but he/she's good friends with 1st author so it's 1st author's word against mine)
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Re: Authorship...

Postby David Taylor » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:38 am

First off, have you discussed your concerns with your PI? Are you comfortable doing so?

In regards to authorship, I suggest you evaluate your own contribution according to your institution's authorship policy. If your institution does not have an authorship policy, start with the ICJME guidelines (
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Re: Authorship...

Postby O.S. » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:52 am

Thank you for your reply.
I mentioned to my PI I am not happy with the author list. I was aware that the cKO mouse was described in the paper only after the paper was submitted. I have received the manuscript only after it was submitted to the journal. His explanation was that he was in a hurry to send it to make sure the cKO mouse is presented for the first time in a paper that comes from our lab. So he also knows the mouse will have a big impact in the scientific community. Now the lab gets the credit for making it, but it will go towards the wrong person.
He also mentioned he is not willing to change author order on the paper.
I am trying to meet with other PIs to see what options I have. Any other advise will be highly appreciated.
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Re: Authorship...

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:06 am

Welcome to the Forum, O.S.

I'd like to ask you an important question, and I will now write you via email to see if you can please reply.

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Re: Authorship...

Postby P.C. » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:10 pm

For whatever reason it sounds like you simply acted as the high powered technician. You should consider yourself lucky that you got a secondary authorship. For your career and political growth I suggest you just chaulk it up to water under the bridge and move on without making waves. (of course you might quitely remind those that benefited from the mouse to acknowledge your contribution.).
I agree with A. Spencer's comment that the situation as he outlined is an ethical violation. It has happened to me, where my name was put on a paper that I had no knowledge of and only learned of by accident. The form PI was quite offended that I suggested this was an ethical violation. You can sit on your high horse and fight back by contacting the editor's and the institution, but you are likely to alienate your former bosses and others, hurt your reputation and get bad references which you might need at this stage of your career.
As A.S. suggested focus on getting your paper out and this will cure that attribution problem. Probably best for you not to make a big deal
about this for political reasons as the risks and potential negative consequences to your career are likely to large relative to any potential gain.
Last edited by P.C. on Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Authorship...

Postby Andy Spencer » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:48 am

Any person who submits a paper to a journal without having provided the paper for review by all listed authors has violated a fundamental tenet of the peer review system and all major journal authorship guidelines.

OS: I would just focus on getting your own publication out and not worry about this. Get your first author publications done and this will be a very minor or non-existent issue for you.
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Re: Authorship...

Postby Lydia » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:49 pm

OS - it sounds like you are upset not because of your position on your co-workers paper, but because your co-worker is publishing your mouse 1st.

Can co-worker re-write their paper such that your paper (in preparation) is cited for the KO mouse?
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Re: Authorship...

Postby P. Lues » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:11 am

To OS, I think you should be higher up if the entire paper is based on your KO mouse. But I also think you should take the third author and keep mum. These things never end well. I have seen a lot of ugliness around authorship issues. The person who ends up villified is usually the one lower down on the author list (on account of being bitter and angry). That is, if they keep your name on there at all. I don't see you coming out on top from this, so maybe just bring it up with your boss once and if s/he doesn't see things you way, perhaps it's best to drop it.

David Taylor wrote:If your institution does not have an authorship policy, start with the ICJME guidelines (

This is very interesting. According to this, my PI should not have been listed as an author on a bunch of the papers from my lab, since her contribution to most papers has been towards funding and general supervision (and uploading the manuscript onto the journal website).
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Re: Authorship...

Postby O.S. » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:27 am

Thank you very much for the input and advice. I will post a more detailed explanation and the options I was suggested by other PIs, including chair of department and postdoc advisor.

4 years back when I took the cKO mouse project I took it from the hands of a former postdoc who spent 6 years trying to make it, but failed. He left the lab without a first author publication. Most of the senior postdocs in the lab advised me against talking on such a risky project. My PI also stated that it is a high risk project, but he also stated that once the mouse is ready I will have a very good paper referred by many other good papers. Like I said, it was a pretty cool cKO, so I said yes.
At the time the mouse was ready my PI asked me to start 6 other colonies by mating the cKO mouse with other mice (to delete protein X in different tissues). My project is based on one of these mice. I gave my labmate the initial cKO mouse and she deleted protein X in cells collected from this mouse. So, while I was creating the other colonies she got a head start on the project, leading to a faster paper than mine.
Like I said, after her paper was submitted without my reading it first, I took advice from 3 other PIs. All of them said mostly the same thing:
1. I have VERY solid grounds to ask for first co-authorship, but be prepared for the lab mate to say no.
2. I can ask for the paragraph with the mouse description to be taken out of her paper. Since her paper will most likely be published before mine, she will still get a lot of credit for the mouse, but at least everybody who takes time to track down the mouse design will give me the credit (for a job interview I can also prove this was my work)
3. If all fails, I can go to the editorial board of the journal and make a bad case, and like everybody said, ruin my reputation; and most probably still lose in the end.

In the end after a long conversation with my PI he realized it was a big mistake not to be given credit for the mouse and asked me what I want. I chose solution #2 (take out the paragraph with the mouse description) since I do not want any more confrontation with the lab mate.
I am working hard now to get my paper out as soon as possible. Hopefully it will go in a much higher journal than my lab mate's, so this will mean more citations also.
I learned my lesson: do not share anything before you are sure you will get the credit you plan on getting (best is to get this in writing).

Again, thank you everybody for your input.
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Re: Authorship...

Postby Derek McPhee » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:16 pm

Just curious how the rodent will be referenced in the paper now. If that was your contribution, I am assuming that with the mouse gone so is your name from the paper?
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