[Taxacom] Ethics? Whose name should be written on a publication asan Author?

Robin Leech releech at telus.net
Tue Feb 23 12:06:04 CST 2010

Hi Levent,

Welcome to the real world of science.  You will encounter these kinds of
problems over and over again.  They come in 2 forms:

1.  Person's names that should be part of the authorship list are not there.
2.  Person's names that should NOT be part of the authorship list are there.

Professors who know nothing of the work the student is doing often put
their own names as first author on the paper when it is published, and that
of the student second or last.

I call this "Science Friction".  If English is not your mother tongue, then
you may not know that this is a play on words.  The original words are
"Science Fiction".

Science Fiction means not truthful, and Science Friction means the lack of
ability to work together, or lack of cooperation, between scientists.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Levent Can" <lev.can at gmail.com>
To: "Taxacom Maillist" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:54 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Ethics? Whose name should be written on a publication 
asan Author?

Dear all,

As far as I know one should have a minimum contribution of %10 to be written
as an author in a paper. I have read the illustrative book of Robert A. Day
"How To Write & Publish a Scientific Paper" and came to the conclusion that
the subject is a purely intellectual concept. Even in an intellectual
community. I wanted to learn what the taxacom members think about this
subject, who should be written, who should not be written, and where is the
threshold to be written in a paper?

I am asking this because I experienced a situation a few days ago. The
situation was briefly like this:
I and my colleague have decided to arrange a poster for a local conference
in Turkey. After two weeks of hard working we prepared the abstract and
wanted to show it to our mutual supervisor. After 2 hours he gave the
abstract to my colleague and said she should send it like this. Then I
realized that this abstract had four names on it, but without my name. My
colleagues name, the "supervisor"s name, and two other professors names.

As a humble graduate student in a third world country and a future
academician this experience broke my desire to science, belief and trust in
my supervisor.

*Few would dispute that researchers have to take responsibility for papers
that have their names on them. A senior laboratory figure who puts his or
her name on a paper without direct supervision or involvement is
unquestionably abusing the system of credit. There have been occasions where
distinguished scientists have put their names irresponsibly on a paper that
has turned out to contain serious errors or fraud. Rightly, some of them
have paid a heavy price.
*—Editorial*, Nature, *p. 831, 26 June 1997

Levent Can


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