Order of Authors

Richard G. Wehby rgw at neuron.uchc.edu
Thu Jan 12 14:25:58 EST 1995


>Subject: Re: Order of Authors
>Date: 9 Jan 1995 10:23:35 -0800
>	Why don't technicians suually get authorship?  Granted they don't write
>or proofread the paper usually, but they overcompensate for this deficit by the
>amount of data gathering and analyzing they do, and participate in the ideas
>during group discussions.  Technicians are very underrated, I feel, as they do
>an enormous amount of work- some of the key experiments in papers are done by
>technicians, yet they are not authors, but merely acknowledged.  I'm just
>curious why technicains aren't more recognized for the work they do.  
>	By the way, I'm not a technician!.... 

There are no fixed criteria for authorship, on the contrary, they seem to 
vary widely from lab to lab. Some technicians contribute enormously to the 
success of a project, and so some PI's feel it is correct to include them as 
authors. Other technicians are "9-to-5-ers", and are not considered as 
suitable candidates for authorship. The whole business of determining 
authorship can be quite subjective, and its best to settle this before 
starting a project (if possible!). The only written criteria I've seen is a 
"ten point scale" that has circulated around here, but I don't know where it 
******quote starts here
2 pts: idea
2 pts: data taking
2 pts: data analysis
2 pts: writing paper
1 pt:  running lab/owning equipment
1/2 pt: supplying backgound papers
1/2 pt: supplying protocol

Partial pts. may be awarded (eg: doint a small part of the data analysis 
warrants 1/2 pt, or eg: one experiment conducted out of four contributed to 
paper warrants 1/4 pt)

4 pts gets you on a paper
***********quote ends here

There is a lot of subjectivity still, however, in the assignment of point 
values to these tasks, as well as to the points required to be an author. 
The greatest conflict seems to arise from "4 pts gets you on a paper", which 
some people believe is too high a criteria.

The matter is likely to remain subjective. I heartily recommend having an 
authorship discussion, and documenting the conclusions in a letter(s) to 
your co-author(s), before the experiments are started. 


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