Post # 1
- Wedding: October 2013 - Dalhousie Castle
I really want opinions and advice from anyone that has been in a similar situation:
I am graduate student who is finishing up my phd in a two months. During my five years, the person that was supposed to be my graduate advisor pretty much ignored me. Instead I worked closely with a technician in our lab who trained me in how to use equipment and software in the lab. We have together produced a very nice collaborative project. I should mention her, that part of this lady’s job description is training users on the equipment.
However, as I advanced as a graduate student from being a newbie to being more experienced and confident, I became the person in the parternship with the ideas that drove the project forward. Also, in the final result, 3/4 of the work in mine and most of the ideas and intellectual input is mine. Here’s my problem:
I feel that this lady I worked with has taken advantage of my gratitute towards her to use my work for her own advancement. She submitted this work, with her name first (meaning she was the primary contributor) to a conference and won and award based on it. She did have my permission to submit the work, but I felt like I couldn’t say no because I owe her for all the help and teaching she has given me in place of my useless advisor. We also agreed that she would acknowledge my contribution when presenting the work.
However, she’s been posting all about her award on facebook and been acception congratulations all around. Especially from former members of the lab, who all looked down on me when I first joined. She hasn’t mentioned my significant contribution once. As well as hurting my feelings, it’s made me worried that I won’t even be mentioned at the conference. I’ve poured five years of my life into this work and acknowledgement of that is very important for my future career.
To make matters worse, my idiot advisor has also decided to present my work at a different conference. He will put my name on it, but he’ll also make such a terrible job of presenting that it’s likely to hurt rather than help me. Both of these people will also expect me to provide them with images for their conference presentations from my thesis, that I have worked long and hard to generate. I just feel like these people are stepping on my hard work and taking too much of the credit.
The final thing we will be doing with this work is publishing it in a scientific journal. Since my advisor is an idiot and I have already written a thesis, most of the writing work will fall on my shoulders. Should I risk a friendship with this woman and demand that my name go first and hers second, rather than sharing authorship? Having that recognition will really help my career and doesn’t matter for hers, which is already well established. What to do? I just really feel I’m getting screwed over and I spend so much time effort and energy on this project.
Post # 3
I’m not sure what field you’re in —
At least in the sciences, when publishing, the advisor’s name goes last, and the first name listed is the person who did the work and wrote the paper. I don’t have any great advice on how to handle the technician, but all I can say is that once you publish the work, if her name isn’t even on the paper, it will be clear to everyone that the work is yours. Awards and oral presentations at conferences are great, but the publication record is gold. You should be submitting abstracts to conferences to try and get oral presentations so you can show off your work and network.
In terms of your advisor, I know what it’s like to be frustrated. My advisor gave me almost zero help in my six years of grad school — I drove the project and did everything on my own. It took her FOUR YEARS to remember the most basic details of what I was doing. It may be different where you are, but at my institution, as a grad student, you don’t own your work, your advisor does. It doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do, if you’re in their lab, their name goes on your publications and they present your work as their own at conferences. It sucks, but it’s part of the job.
Post # 4
(I’ll also add that if 25% of the work was done by the technician, she should be listed as the second author on your publication).
Post # 5
As a recent Ph.D. graduate in the sciences a first author paper is a must for getting a job after you graduate. You did the work, you wrote the paper, you should be first, no doubt about it. Stand up for your hard earned credit!
Post # 6
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!
AnotherMrsBrown: You need to demand to share first authorship.
Post # 7
- Wedding: October 2013 - Dalhousie Castle
Just to clarify a bit more:
I am happy to have this lady have her name on the paper. The original plan two years ago was to be co-first authors. At this point we had made a roughtly equal contribution.
In the time since then, I realised something significant that our results were pointing to and did a whole load of work to confirm it. This has made the work much more complete and now forms about half of what will go into the paper. The other half was done by both of us so it’s now 3/4s my work.
What is probably not clear is from what I wrote above is that our lab is in trouble, in fact beyond trouble. My lazy, incompetent advisor (he actually sleeps in his office about 50% of each day, sounds like a joke, but its not). It’s pretty much being shut down this year. There is no money for me to go to a conference to present my work.
The tech can only go because the award “she” won based on mostly my work means that she will get her travel and fees covered. My advisor is paying for his own travel and fees out of his own pocket.
Luckily I have already landed a job for after I graduate, otherwise I would really be panicking. I think I’ve decided to try to bring up the paper authorship in the nicest way possible. The tech has had her recognition and award out of this work. I think I just need to stand up for myself and not let them tread all over me anymore.
Post # 8
All of your names should be on the paper. If you did 75% of the work and wrote the paper (and your boss knows this), you should be first author. If the technician contributed to the work, she should be listed as second author. If anyone else contributed to the work, they should be listed as internal authors (third, fourth, etc). Your advisor should be listed last.
Post # 9
Do you plan to stay working at this lab? I ask because making the demand now (and not during the revisions phase before submission) is the right thing to do ethically, but may also be putting a giant target on your back (esp. if you still have to work for those same people who put you down before). It’s also hard to tell if you are more upset by the fact this happened, or by the fact that she is constantly flaunting it in your face. I’d separate the two because your emotions don’t matter in this case, what matters are the facts.
Post # 10
Your advisor wants a lab tech to be first author on a paper that you wrote? Whoever wrote the manuscript should be first author (assuming you didn’t hire a medical writer or something) and this should have been determined ahead of time. At this point, I would have a talk with your advisor and make sure you are first author, and then write the manuscript entirely on your own and rewrite anything anyone else had written. It doesn’t matter if she’s taking credit on Facebook, just worry about your career.