Presenting other people's work at a conference


So I have the opportunity to submit an abstract for a conference, but as I have only been in my postdoc 6 months, the results I will be presenting will mainly be the work of PhD students in the lab.

I'm not sure what to do about authorship. Should I put myself as first author, but make it clear the work isn't mine? Or should I list one or more of the PhD students as first author, and list myself as the presenting author? My PI will be last author.


Depends on who does the writing, normally. If you write the abstract and prepare the poster (making figures, etc), you are normally first name - and the one who did most work is second name. Depending on your lab ethics this can be switched - so the one with most of the work gets first name, you second name.

If you have an abstract/poster which was prepared by somebody else, you just underline your name to visualize that you are the presenting author - there you definitely won't get first name.

In case of doubt I would have a frank talk with your supervisor about whats usual in his lab. As a fresh postdoc, you don't want to step on too many peoples toes in the beginning ;-).


Thanks Rina, the problem is I'm not sure that I value my supervisor's opinion that much because she tends to place postdocs above the PhD students so I think she will tell me to put my name first, when I'm not sure that's the right thing to do.

I've spoken to the PhD students and they said they don't mind either way. I don't care about being first author either, because I don't feel it's my work and I'm just using it as an excuse to go to the conference anyway!

I will be making the poster though and writing the abstract though.

I'm just not sure what is the conventional thing to do for new postdocs in this situation.


Since its just a poster and everybody agrees with his/her position I would go first name. They did the work - but you prepare the figures and submit the abstract. Without you they wouldn't have the poster for their cv, so if nobody minds go first.

I have at the moment two cases where its different: One where a collegue prepared abstract and poster but cannot attend the conference - so I fill the gap and just underline my name (I am third on said poster)

Second case, a former postdoc left without getting his paper done - data are there, figures too - just writing is needed. I will get second author there and will do all the writing and possible corrections. Here its fair that he gets first because basically its his work and I just bring it out into the public ;)


Yes I see what you mean with those other cases. Authorship sure is complicated!

Avatar for Mathcomp

Can you mention yourself as the presenter? and then say this is a joint work with ..


Couple of other things to consider:
1) Whose career will the order make most difference to?
If you are a post-doc, a poster should make no difference to you at all (except as an excuse to go to a conference). It may however make a difference to a PhD student!

2) Making yourself look like a team-player
If you put the PhD students first then they may be more willing to help you with things- it demonstrates that you value other people's contributions (and gets you brownie points).

Personally, I would place myself second to last!