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So I finally heard back from the editor (meaning that An finally got… - Lab Rats [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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[May. 20th, 2012|08:37 pm]
Lab Rats

lab_gripes

[small_chicken]
So I finally heard back from the editor (meaning that An finally got back to him, meaning that at least one other co-author has spoken with her about this, or else she's gotten wind of what I've done somehow and is desperate for damage control).

An is willing to give me 4th author. On the one hand, I realize that this is a major improvement. On the other, well...as I said before, 85% of the text is mine.

Take it or leave it?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: somniumdraconae
2012-05-20 06:42 pm (UTC)
Ask for 2nd author.

If she gives in, yay! But more likely, she'll offer a compromise at 3rd. Take the compromise.
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[User Picture]From: small_chicken
2012-05-20 07:37 pm (UTC)
Part of me thinks that would be great. But the other part considers that, when a student writes an article or any sort of article for publication, what gets published is the cumulative efforts of the student, other students, the PI, a few lab techs, another prof, and perhaps a copyeditor. Often, the combined effects of the others involved are greater than what the student has contributed alone, yet the student, because he has originated the idea, is still the first author.

And so it is with this review. Granted, the idea to write it wasn't mine, but most of the actual writing was. I have edited many papers where my corrections make up more of the final draft than the original author's text, and yet I am (quite happily) the second or third author, or even relegated to the acknowledgments, or not acknowledged at all (for paying clients, only--I am now a freelance science copyeditor, so as long as you pay me I don't give a damn whether my name ends up on it). So given that this is mostly my work--and mostly unedited, at that--I feel disinclined to accept anything less than first author.
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[User Picture]From: somniumdraconae
2012-05-20 08:09 pm (UTC)
Well as you said, it is a big step from having nothing before. And if you come right out and demand first author after she's offered this much, I'm pretty sure you'll just look like an ass who's not willing to bargain or talk about anything. That's why I suggested trying it the way I did.
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[User Picture]From: small_chicken
2012-05-21 01:51 am (UTC)
Except I'm pretty sure that the only reason she's gotten in contact with the editor is that the dean (in conjunction with the rector) of the department has contacted the committee for scientific fraud, and she just wants to avoid a sh*tstorm. The timing of the emails I've received are rather too coincidental for anything else. First, the editor sends me her offer, and then two minutes later I get one from the dean....

In any case, I've already decided to wait and see what Monday morning brings. I'm pretty sure I won't even have to make my own case in this.
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[User Picture]From: i_strannik
2012-05-21 06:36 am (UTC)
The student is often the first author even when the idea is originated by the supervisor...
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[User Picture]From: nervous_neuron
2012-05-20 11:53 pm (UTC)
4th author?? Bloody hell, I did a small experiment which was basically a 'data not shown' thing and still got 3rd author (albeit it was 4 authors on the paper).

Unfortunalty don't know much about how contributions to reviews are made. But I'd think the first author would be the person who did the reading, found the references and wrote the 'basic flow of narrative' even if it was badly written and extensively edited.. Though I wouldn't say someone who wrote most of the text should get first author. So what I want to know is what the other author's contributions were, especially the 1st author. Anyway, not really for me to comment on, but the dean, or whoever has experience in these types of disputes.

Good thing that you have your 'original' copy of the paper. Really, this type of thing sucks.
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[User Picture]From: small_chicken
2012-05-21 02:02 am (UTC)
Well, I basically wrote the entire thing. The introduction and therapeutics parts were somewhat edited, but the entire middle of the review is word-for-word copied from my draft, so....

I mean, I agree: people who write the most shouldn't necessarily get first author. If that were the case, I'd be first-author on about 15 additional papers, considering how much editing work that I did on them. The way these things were assigned, though, was that it was agreed that someone would write it, and that I would edit and offer my corrections to it. I get a distant authorship or acknowledged or nothing, but I don't really mind because we had all agreed (informally) that so-and-so would be first author. And this is what bugs me about accepting fourth: the fact that, for the entire year that I was (on-and-off) working on this, nobody disputed that I should be first.

The case is waiting for the scientific fraud committee first thing Monday morning, so I'm probably going to wait and see what they decide.
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[User Picture]From: cheez_ball
2012-05-21 05:58 pm (UTC)
Good point here. I've done significant editing on papers in exchange for middle authorship and it never seemed to bother anyone. But writing the the whole thing is a different story altogether. I would never think of claiming first authorship if I didn't do the majority of the experiments and the majority of the writing. With a review things are different, though, because there are not experiments.
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[User Picture]From: yelya
2012-05-21 12:37 pm (UTC)
4th author is still unfair. Your authorship should only depend on the percentage of your contribution to the article (clearly, deserving of the 1st author), not on the fact that your former adviser was caught doing something unethical and is now deciding to give in (well, sort of). What the hell? I would write to the editor and say that 4th authorship is clearly not a correct determination of the authorship (does the editor agree, btw, that 4th author is fair)?

I know this is all happening in Netherlands, but in the US every university that receives NIH funding has an ethical rules committee (or something similar) that deals with issues like this as required by NIH. If there are ethical rules committees in the organizations that gave funding for your research, these places are good to complain to as well. And to let your former adviser know what you are complaining to them, which may threaten her chances of getting funding from these organizations in the future.

Now, of course, it is always best to try to stay on good terms with all your former advisers, but your is just crazy.
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[User Picture]From: small_chicken
2012-05-21 03:01 pm (UTC)
I sent the dean an email and the relevant attachments, and now the ethics committee in Maastricht is looking into it. I expect there will be some kind of sh*tstorm brewing in the coming weeks. Rumor has it, furthermore, that she is already in hot water with the university so I don't think threatening funding cutoffs is going to achieve much more than just letting the Tempest Tea brew....

I don't know what the editor thinks; I think he's trying to keep his head above everything and he hasn't offered any commentary one way or the other. I did eventually decide that I would not accept anything less than first, so unfortunately I think I just made his job twenty times harder.

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[User Picture]From: cheez_ball
2012-05-21 05:54 pm (UTC)
I would try to negotiate for better but if it's a "4th author or nothing" deal than take it.

Out of curiosity, who are the first and last authors? Not by name, I mean, but is you supervising prof 1st and the dept head last?
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[User Picture]From: small_chicken
2012-05-22 06:43 am (UTC)
First author is one of the students, last author is my former PI.
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[User Picture]From: cheez_ball
2012-05-23 05:15 pm (UTC)
Oh HELL no.
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