Author names on poster/paper

posted
02-Mar-18, 10:52
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 9 months ago
I'm submitting a conference abstract, where for the first time I'm presenting my own research, so there's no supervisor names needed.

I've got a MSci student working on the project, but we've hardly got any results yet. All the ideas are mine, he's basically just doing the work under my instruction.

Should I include the student as an author? I'm leaning towards yes. I think I should be first author and corresponding author though, since A) It's my project and B) I'm the one presenting the work and C) They are only an MSci student. I feel like if the design of the project was more their idea, or if they were a postgrad masters student then I would be last author and they would first author.

Any future papers out of this work will be written by me as the student will have left university and may not continue in Science anyway.

Thoughts?
posted
02-Mar-18, 12:14
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 9 months ago
Thoughts based on experience. I did lots and lots of work on a seemingly similar basis to what you've described - basically as an undergrad and between my undergrad and Masters, I was helping out by coding, analysing, and even collecting data. And a lot of it - as I wanted the experience. I wasn't involved in the conception of the research - I was more or less following orders. My name was not included on any outputs (beyond acknowledgements) and neither did I expect it to be. If I had been asked to help write the paper, or design a poster, that would have been different.

Hope this helps.
posted
02-Mar-18, 12:50
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 9 months ago
Thanks Tudor. Yes I see what you mean. It's kind of like a technician wouldn't be an author isn't it.

Hmmm.

Anyone else?
posted
02-Mar-18, 12:55
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Thanks Tudor. Yes I see what you mean. It's kind of like a technician wouldn't be an author isn't it.

Hmmm.

Anyone else?


If is student is contributing meaningfully in any way to your project then you are a team and they should have a mention in everything you do including papers that you publish. You have an ethical duty to do this in my opinion. You should certainly retain first authorship and corresponding author. Your first instinct on this is the ethically correct one.
posted
02-Mar-18, 13:08
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for chantedsnicker
posted about 9 months ago
I tend to look at it in the way of, if someone's contribution has been necessary to the project, e.g helping put together protocols, data collection tools, doing data collection etc then I would be looking to include them as authors on the paper.

I have in the past got advice from people about using particular methods, but this was general discussion and they didn't work directly on my project, therefore despite them going over my head and telling my boss they should be rewarded for this, I didn't include them as an author, but did acknowledge them. (Wow, hadn't realised I was so bitter!)

You absolutely should be the first author.

Tudor_Queen - if I had been collecting and analyzing data for a project and it was a vital part of the research, I'd expect to be more than an acknowledgment - Although at that stage of my career I'd probably be happy enough too
posted
02-Mar-18, 13:16
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 9 months ago
I agree that you should be first/corresponding author in this case and that the student should also be an author. Agree that research is teamwork and I never really understand why people leave students out (assuming they've made a meaningful contribution), as publication is going to be vital to the student if he/she wishes to progress.
posted
02-Mar-18, 15:42
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 9 months ago
I would certainly acknowledge them either way, whether talks, posters or papers, but that may not be enough.

The difficulty is about whether they have made a meaningful contribution I think. The project is very short so I have had to give a lot of direction otherwise they wouldn't get any results, so in this way it's a bit like being a technician. On the other hand, if the project was longer I know they would be much more independent and without their technical abilities they wouldn't have got the results in the first place, regardless of my input.

Long term this would be just be a very small contribution to the overall project, so is it ok to put their name on a poster, but then don't make them as an author on the final paper? I guess I feel there needs to be some sort of substantial intellectual contribution to warrant authorship.
posted
02-Mar-18, 18:11
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From TreeofLife:

I guess I feel there needs to be some sort of substantial intellectual contribution to warrant authorship.


This is what authorship guidelines, such as APA, say as well. But it can vary of course. You just have to go with what you think is right. When you put their name there, does it feel a bit wrong somehow? If so, leave it off. If you don't put their name there, does that feel wrong? If so, put their name there. I really wouldn't want to put their name from what you've described... two authors to some would suggest an equal distribution of ownership, labour, insight to the work etc (unless they were the main author and you were the supervisor - that's different - ha!).

Quote From TreeofLife:

Long term this would be just be a very small contribution to the overall project, so is it ok to put their name on a poster, but then don't make them as an author on the final paper?


I think continuity is better. They should be acknowledged and that is it. I've read so many acknowledgments where people have helped with data collection, etc. On the other hand, sometimes the papers say, for example, "data were collected by the second author". But then it is expected that they did a lot more than just doing what they were told.

One final point. I think it is different in some labs where almost everyone's name goes on the paper because they are all involved in some way and it is good for everyone to get publications. From what you've described, this isn't like that. It is more like it is your work and you've had a Masters student help out.
posted
02-Mar-18, 19:30
edited about 2 minutes later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
I would certainly acknowledge them either way, whether talks, posters or papers, but that may not be enough.

The difficulty is about whether they have made a meaningful contribution I think. The project is very short so I have had to give a lot of direction otherwise they wouldn't get any results, so in this way it's a bit like being a technician. On the other hand, if the project was longer I know they would be much more independent and without their technical abilities they wouldn't have got the results in the first place, regardless of my input.

Long term this would be just be a very small contribution to the overall project, so is it ok to put their name on a poster, but then don't make them as an author on the final paper? I guess I feel there needs to be some sort of substantial intellectual contribution to warrant authorship.


Hi ToL, what is the usual protocol at your institution? What do your academic colleagues usually do? Did you pay this person for their work? These factors might help influence your decision.

My preferences, like Chickpea and pm133, would be to include the Masters student as a second author. Chances are I would probably also include them as a second author on papers that result from this specific research based on what I have observed in my own faculty and university.

Tudor, I really liked and understand your comment about using feelings to help work out what to do but while, like you I would be tempted to do this, I have learned from experience to be cautious about using these as a guide for practice, as they can be very personal interpretations at times and not always aligned to the institution's protocols or conventions.
posted
02-Mar-18, 20:35
edited about 17 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 9 months ago
I don't think this is particularly usual to be honest. It's basically like an undergraduate dissertation project. The student doesn't get paid. Most of these projects in my department aren't "real", the supervisors just run the same ones over and over again with different students every year. They generally take a hands off approach anyway, so what the students produce wouldn't necessarily be well executed, or interesting or particularly publishable. The difference is I actually need this research to be successful, so I've closely guided the student to make it work. Like Tudor said, it's my project, but I don't have time to do it myself so I've got a student to do it.

My former supervisor said it would depend on whether the student got any results. If they did, then they should be included on the paper, if not, leave them off. So, sometimes undergraduate projects are a small component of PhD students' research, but they probably don't get round to getting an actual result so they wouldn't be on the paper that arises from the work. This is what happened to the undergraduates that I worked with in my PhD. They weren't on any of my papers. I didn't even acknowledge them because whatever they were doing didn't work.

I will check with some others in the department next week, assuming there are any not on strike of course...
posted
03-Mar-18, 00:54
edited about 7 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 9 months ago
3 things concern me here ToL.
Firstly, you used the phrase "just a Masters student".
Seconldy, you have admitted using a Masters student to do essentially technician level work which you dont want to do.
Finally, you say it us common for Masters students to be given work that others have done before because they are expected to fail anyway.

I think there is a serious problem here and it appears to be systemic within your department. Masters students are supposed to be engaging in proper research in preparation for the workplace or a PhD, not just fobbed off with routine work. It sounds like your department's Masters students are being seriously short changed.

Have I misunderstood something here?
posted
03-Mar-18, 08:19
edited about 1 minute later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 9 months ago
Most universities have guidelines nowadays on what you have to contribute to be included as an author. Maybe you can try to look into that (doesn't have to be your uni).
From my experience, this really depends on the supervisors. My co-supervisor puts every student who contributed in some way to the results as an author on the paper and if the technician contributed to the results, the name goes on the paper as well. I know, however, many people who don't do it the same way.

In my opinion, it depends on the individual case. We have sometimes big projects with many students because the workload would otherwise be impossible to handle. They get told what to do, get paid very well for their (mostly repetitive) work and there are a lot of them. You would have 15 additional names on the paper if you would acknowledge them beyond the acknowledgment section. Fine to leave them off the author list.
In case of a bachelor or a master project where they do whole experiments by themselves, interpret the data gathered, do the stats etc. (the stuff usually necessary to pass a bachelor or master thesis) and you publish the very same data then they should be definitely on the authorlist. Many of my colleagues have master students as second authors on their papers.
posted
03-Mar-18, 08:43
edited about 5 minutes later
Avatar for starryeyed
posted about 9 months ago
What pm133 said is quite right. Second autorship for the student is right in this case, both in the poster and in the paper (or if anybody else contributes, rank them in the level of contribution, still including the student). She did your research after all - you taught her to do it. Who she is and what she's going to do with it does not matter, give credit when it's due. And one must look carefully at letting people develop, and not exploit them. Actually, guiding the student to do actual research you might have accidentally created a proper researcher, think about it.
posted
03-Mar-18, 12:57
edited about 6 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From starryeyed:
What pm133 said is quite right. Second autorship for the student is right in this case, both in the poster and in the paper (or if anybody else contributes, rank them in the level of contribution, still including the student). She did your research after all - you taught her to do it. Who she is and what she's going to do with it does not matter, give credit when it's due. And one must look carefully at letting people develop, and not exploit them. Actually, guiding the student to do actual research you might have accidentally created a proper researcher, think about it.


I do not fully agree with that and it is also not in line with the guidlines many unis provide for publishing. It is not enough to just "do it". You need to contribute to multiple steps in the publication process and this includes things like the conception of the research (coming up with the hypothesis and the research question itself), contribution to the experimental design, contribution to the execution of the experiment, contribution to the analysis of the data, contribution to the interpretation of the data and last but not least also contributions to the manuscript. Of course you don't need to contribute to everything, otherwise no supervisor would make it on a paper, but at least at my uni, it is not enough to just execute an experiment like a robot to receive authorship. So even the uni recommends to not give authorship in that case. Even though that is of course up to you. If there are not many people on the paper you might just do it to motivate the student ;) Most students that do a master thesis at my uni contribute to basically all steps except the first one. They seldom come up with a project themselves but rather get assigned to one. Student workers who just execute and are usually paid don't do that and are therefore not included in the authorlist.
posted
03-Mar-18, 13:49
Avatar for Thesisfun
posted about 9 months ago
It would be helpful if ToL confirmed their discipline as there may be internationally recognised guidelines on authorship.

There does seem to be a lot of authorship snobbery going on here, as well as very odd reasons why this individual should/ should not be considered an author, such as:
1) They were/ weren't paid- no idea how this makes a difference,
2) Someone else could have done it (well, they didn't!)

For me... it's a no-brainer... they made a significant contribution to data acquisition, so should be given credit.

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