White-painted sepulchres

Robin Leech robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Tue May 19 09:16:35 CDT 1998

Well, it all depends.  I know of circumstances where a biological artist
was "brought in and paid" for services.  No co-authorship here, but there
was acknowledgment.

In another circumstance, where both the artist and the scientist are in
the same institute, paid by the same source, where coordination between the
two at all times is high, the artist received second authorship.

Take your choice.  Robin Leech

On Tue, 19 May 1998, Sean Edwards wrote:

> On:  Sat, 16 May 1998 14:30:43 -0300, Thomas Schlemmermeyer wrote:
> > So, here I may put an ethical question: Seen that the correct,
> > highly objective, but nevertheless artistically well-made
> > illustration is a vital part of any description, what role should
> > be given to the professional illustrator?
> >
> > Should he be mentioned as co-author, in the acknowledgements or not
> > at all?
> >
> > Cheers   Thomas
> Surely there should be no problem here? This may have been an
> "aside" from Thomas, but it does need an answer.
> Firstly, scientific papers should ideally be illustrated by the
> author. Illustration (both by line drawing or by photography) should
> be as much as part of the worker's training and competence as, for
> example, using a microscope. Sadly it is not. Not now, anyway.
> OK, some first-rate researchers just happen to be lousy illustrators
> (usually a weak excuse or typo for lazy illustrators, although I
> accept not always). Maybe the more senior an author becomes, the
> more he/she feels that all this technical stuff is something you
> get others to do. But anyway, the responsibility for the result lies
> entirely in the hands of the author, otherwise you'd have typesetters
> (when they existed, OK Bill Gates now) etc. all being co-authors;
> you read proofs.
> I could quote (but won't) cases of misinformation in published work
> because drawings were done by a technician. In one event, only those
> bits of the drawing that were relevant to the interest of the author
> were checked by the author, and other errors slipped through; it
> would take a remarkable referee to pick that sort of thing up, but
> it resulted in a faulty reference in another paper on another aspect
> of the same species. After all, if every cell were to be checked,
> then the author might as well have done the whole thing him/herself.
> Proof-reading of illustrations as with text. Incidentally, this is
> the same issue that arises in supervisor-checking of data
> gathering/input by volunteer or technical staff for Museum
> collections.
> Similarly in a popular British Flora where, for example, the correct
> number of 'sepals' in Ranunculus ficaria was evidently deemed to be
> artistically interpretable. Illustrator (not a botanist) was
> co-author here, by the way. Nice pictures, though.
> I could also quote (but won't) an author whose earlier work was
> illustrated (beautifully) by a professional, then later work
> illustrated by h'self; the later work might not have been so pretty
> or impressive to look at, but was interestingly generally preferred
> as being more useful.
> I know that this might be a slightly flip response (I'm not quite
> that arrogant!), but it is a real ethical issue that has been touched
> upon. It ties into presentation versus content. It is much easier now
> to produce good-looking results, but we must not assume that this
> reflects the contents.
> I certainly am not suggesting that researchers don't use technical
> help in an increasingly technical world (SEMs, molecular work, etc.,
> etc.), but the buck stops with the author, and that's why his/her
> name is there and not the illustrator's or the technician's. In the
> acknowledgements, certainly.
> Sean
> ***************************************************************
> sean.edwards at man.ac.uk
> Sean R. Edwards, Keeper of Botany, The Manchester Museum,
> Manchester University, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
> 'phone: +44 (0)161-275-2671/2;         fax: +44 (0)161-275-2676
> web: http://www.man.ac.uk/museum/
> ***************************************************************

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