Grad Student wants 1st Author of my Manuscript

D

deleted1044561

    Title seems a bit click-baity but I was wondering if I can get input on this.

    I have put 2+ years into a project (12-18 hours a week, including miscellaneous lab duties that take up time) that required initial help from the grad student in basic procedure which needed a lot of troubleshooting that I did. I have produced data that the PI deemed publication worthy.. I ran all the experiments, analyzed all the data, generated hypotheses, and wrote a manuscript from scratch. This took a lot of time, especially including all the necessary citations that I didn't have stored because this is my first manuscript. All without much help from the grad student as she was dealing with some personal stuff and went to India (her mom died) for a Summer and took a winter break off from lab.

    I have been reporting my progress to the PI since that time and the grad student had little idea of how the project was going outside of group meetings we had with the PI. Fast-forward to now -- I have stopped working in the lab because of COVID and am applying to medical school this cycle. The manuscript still isn't submitted to any journal but the grad student has been editing it along with the PI.

    She said they were planning to change the journal of submission and the paper needed re-formating and more content. Additionally, the grad student mentioned in an email that she would have to run the follow-up experiments that a journal would inevitably request. This was her case for asking me if she could become the first-author.

    I agreed because I don't really want to work on the manuscript any more and don't plan to work in the lab anymore. I was wondering if I made the right decision? My first-author position would be bumped to co-author. It would not affect my medical school application because I am applying now and it's too late include on the primary. However, I was thinking about the implications on residency. I am a fairly low-stats applicant (unbalanced and low MCAT) applying MD/DO, but I have a strong interest in keeping my options open and I would like to pursue a competitive specialty, or at least have the CV for one.

    Thanks.
     
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    D

    deleted1032897

      What impact factor is current journal of submission? Keep in mind that it might not go into the first journal you submit it to.

      In my opinion, if the paper needs the re-formulation with a second person doing all the additional experiments and and editing before submission, co-author is appropriate. This is not a question of should you fight for sole first author just for med school/residency boost. It should be what authorship is truly fair.

      I’m not an expert, but I think even high-impact first author publication may not be as important for residency applications compared to the specialty-specific research you complete in medical school. We can get an expert to confirm or refute this though!

      For what it’s worth, I had a high-impact first author pub by time of application. It might have helped behind the scenes, but I was never asked about it specifically or had it acknowledged in interviews. On the other hand, my research colleagues and new PhDs I was being introduced to would like “wow, you’re famous!” upon my PI telling them I was first author. MD/PhDs were just disappointed I wasn’t using it toward doing MD/PhD, haha. All about perspective. MDs cared by far the least.
       
      D

      deleted987519

        Some journals let you use a symbol to denote equal contribution between two authors...so, you may be able to be "co-1st-authors", but of course tell her your name should be listed first ;)
         
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        Goro

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          Title seems a bit click-baity but I was wondering if I can get input on this.

          I have put 2+ years into a project (12-18 hours a week, including miscellaneous lab duties that take up time) that required initial help from the grad student in basic procedure which needed a lot of troubleshooting that I did. I have produced data that the PI deemed publication worthy.. I ran all the experiments, analyzed, all the data, generated hypotheses, and wrote a manuscript from scratch. This took a lot of time, especially including all the necessary citations that I didn't have stored because this is my first manuscript. All without little help from the grad student as she was dealing with some personal stuff and went to India (her mom died) for a Summer and took a winter break off from lab.

          I have been reporting my progress to the PI since that time and the grad student had little idea of how the project was going outside of group meetings we had with the PI. Fast-forward to now -- I have stopped working in the lab because of COVID and am applying to medical school this cycle. The manuscript still isn't submitted to any journal but the grad student has been editing it along with the PI.

          She said they were planning to change the journal of submission and the paper needed re-formating and more content. Additionally, the grad student mentioned in an email that she would have to run the follow-up experiments that a journal would inevitably request. This was her case for asking me if she could become the first-author.

          I agreed because I don't really want to work on the manuscript any more and don't plan to work in the lab anymore. I was wondering if I made the right decision? My first-author position would be bumped to co-author. It would not affect my medical school application because I am applying now and it's too late include on the primary. However, I was thinking about the implications on residency. I am a fairly low-stats applicant (unbalanced and low MCAT) applying MD/DO, but I have a strong interest in keeping my options open and I would like to pursue a competitive specialty, or at least have the CV for one.

          Thanks.
          Talk to your PI about this.

          You can always be * "Both authors contributed equally to this project"

          Even having a first author Cell paper will not salvage a poor app.
           
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          deleted1044561

            What impact factor is current journal of submission? Keep in mind that it might not go into the first journal you submit it to.

            In my opinion, if the paper needs the re-formulation with a second person doing all the additional experiments and and editing before submission, co-author is appropriate. This is not a question of should you fight for sole first author just for med school/residency boost. It should be what authorship is truly fair.
            Is assigning authorship based on future experiments the norm in academia? What if the article gets accepted with minor or no follow-up experiments? I know this is unlikely but not impossible.

            The impact factor is 4.2 so it's a low-impact journal.
             
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            deleted1044561

              Talk to your PI about this.

              You can always be * "Both authors contributed equally to this project"

              Even having a first author Cell paper will not salvage a poor app.
              I think I will send her an email asking about the timeline of submission and casually mention if co-author means equal contribution. I am not fully versed on the semantics of authorship as I think they vary journal to journal. She said she wants to put her name first which I assume is for her PhD requirement. She has been meeting with the PI so I've been out of the loop for 2-3 months now.

              Given my non-interest in working on the MS or lab work, I feel okay giving her equal authorship but I don't know how I feel about her being the sole main author since I busted my behind during school breaks.

              As a PhD, do you think my line of thinking is correct?
               
              D

              deleted1032897

                I misunderstood! I thought you had said that she was doing a bunch more experiments and manuscript editing before even the initial submission because you said they wanted to switch journals to submit to and your PI wanted to re-formulate it. That's where I thought co-authorship might be applicable. If she's doing it afterward, that's pretty murky. If you did 100% of the experiments and editing to get it to be submission-caliber, I feel like you should definitely get first author.

                In my experience, authorship should be discussed prior to this. In my opinion, your PI should have set the expectations for you both at conception of work on project so you knew what you were working toward (in my 3 years that's how it's been but maybe not how the norm does it) and how much work you were responsible for to achieve authorship offered at beginning of project. Now is the time for PI to step up and straighten this out. It's not right for your PI to force you to take on the responsibility of defending your own work against grad student. Grad student should also not be coming directly to you just to gouge you now she sees a quick opportunity to add another first author to her resume. Sorry this happened but hopefully PI can pull rank and help clear up their expectations for authorship going forward.
                 
                D

                deleted1044561

                  I misunderstood! I thought you had said that she was doing a bunch more experiments and manuscript editing before even the initial submission because you said they wanted to switch journals to submit to and your PI wanted to re-formulate it. That's where I thought co-authorship might be applicable. If she's doing it afterward, that's pretty murky. If you did 100% of the experiments and editing to get it to be submission-caliber, I feel like you should definitely get first author.

                  In my experience, authorship should be discussed prior to this. In my opinion, your PI should have set the expectations for you both at conception of work on project so you knew what you were working toward (in my 3 years that's how it's been but maybe not how the norm does it) and how much work you were responsible for to achieve authorship offered at beginning of project. Now is the time for PI to step up and straighten this out. It's not right for your PI to force you to take on the responsibility of defending your own work against grad student. Grad student should also not be coming directly to you just to gouge you now she sees a quick opportunity to add another first author to her resume. Sorry this happened but hopefully PI can pull rank and help clear up their expectations for authorship going forward.
                  No experiments are being added to the paper that I did not conduct for submission, to my knowledge. She is however currently editing the MS and rearranging it.

                  She didn't force me to do anything as she asked me if she could be listed first which I said yes. I just want to make sure I'm not getting stiffed here as I'm new to the world of academia.

                  I prepared all of the data and sections of the MS. I think she worked on a couple visuals and editing.
                   

                  Goro

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                    I think I will send her an email asking about the timeline of submission and casually mention if co-author means equal contribution. I am not fully versed on the semantics of authorship as I think they vary journal to journal. She said she wants to put her name first which I assume is for her PhD requirement. She has been meeting with the PI so I've been out of the loop for 2-3 months now.

                    Given my non-interest in working on the MS or lab work, I feel okay giving her equal authorship but I don't know how I feel about her being the sole main author since I busted my behind during school breaks.

                    As a PhD, do you think my line of thinking is correct?
                    Co-authorship does not mean "equal contribution"

                    Don't beat around the bush. Be honest with your feelings, but professionally.
                     

                    Goro

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                      For the noobs, what is a co-author then? I know the first author did the most work, the last is usually the PI. Middle is everyone else. Never heard the term co-author before.
                      1st and 2nd authors; all others are collaborating authors.
                       
                      D

                      deleted1044561

                        For the noobs, what is a co-author then? I know the first author did the most work, the last is usually the PI. Middle is everyone else. Never heard the term co-author before.
                        That's what I thought too. So in that case, she is trying to be the main author then... She told me I would still be co-author but her name would be first. I assumed it was just movement of a name with equal contribution.

                        @Goro Would you suggest a direct email to the PI asking her to decide the authorship? The PI previously told me that it was 'my manuscript' in the context that "We'll get your manuscript published" when Covid hit and my lab position was lost since I couldn't enter the lab.
                         

                        Goro

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                          That's what I thought too. So in that case, she is trying to be the main author then... She told me I would still be co-author but her name would be first. I assumed it was just movement of a name with equal contribution.

                          @Goro Would you suggest a direct email to the PI asking her to decide the authorship? The PI previously told me that it was 'my manuscript' in the context that "We'll get your manuscript published" when Covid hit and my lab position was lost since I couldn't enter the lab.
                          The PI's wording to me implies that you'd be first author.

                          Yes, email him and explain exactly as you did in your OP.
                           

                          dsonic

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                            You should definitely reach out to the PI. I've heard and seen of situations where a grad student who wants a pub will make edits that aren't even necessary, just to say that they did a substantial contribution for authorship. This sounds like one of those situations where the paper probably didn't even need to be edited so much and rearranged, but she is doing it in order to ensure she gets first authorship. You should advocate for first author and/or equal contribution co first authors.
                             
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