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My personal opinion about co-authorship 精选

已有 6854 次阅读 2009-1-1 00:15 |系统分类:科研笔记

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Lately, there are a number of blog articles discussing the issue of co-authorship on scholarly papers and whose name should be on it and in what order. I fully realize custom, tradition, and cultural background differ from country to country resulting in rather different practices on naming co-authors for papers.
Personally, I hold a very narrow view about co-authorship with students and colleagues. First of all, it is true I support fully all my ph.d.students. Over a period of 4-5 years, this amounts to over quarter of a million dollars in the US which I have to compete with others and secure from granting agencies. One can argue this entitles me to have my name on every paper coming out of my group. My view is that the student earned the support because of “merit”. I support him because he is “good”. It is not related to a particular paper he has written. One can also argue that by provide routine guidance and problem selection as an advisor, ones name should go on every student paper. Again, my own opinion is that I receive a salary for providing such effort. Thus, I have already been compensated. Being a co-author of a paper to me implies certain direct and deep involvement with the creation of the particular paper. I use three criteria:
1.       I originated the main idea of the paper and the formulation of the problem, not just the problem selection .
2.       I participated fully and played a major effort in the writing and composition of the paper.
3.       I am fully prepared to give a comprehensive talk for 30-60 minutes on the subject of the paper.
If either 1 or 2, preferrably both, together with 3 are satisfied, then my name goes on the paper. This applies either to students or colleagues working with me.
I am not suggesting that everyone should adopt such view and practice. In my own experience, I have found following such an approach avoids potential future embarrassments and eliminates any disagreement with your co-authors about credits, and above all does not seem to have done any damage to my career and reputation. The point is that giving more credit to others and claim less credit for you on a particular paper seldom matters very much in the long run. If you are in industry, then publishing papers is a luxury and does not count in your advancement with the company. If you are in academia, then almost always, it is your accumulative accomplishments and staying power that cement your reputation. Taking a more relaxed attitude makes life so much more pleasant and agreeable.


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