Born2rumble1st

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One of my applications is asking how many first authorships/junior authorships I have, and I'm not sure how to answer the question. I have four publications, two of which I'm the sole (and thus primary author by default), but the other two are more complicated. One I published during law school and was written in conjunction with two other people. However, legal journals don't really have a first/second author thing; they just list people alphabetically. Since my last name was last in the alphabet, I was listed last. But what do I call this on my applications? And how do I cite it in APA format? I don't want to give the impression I did less work than the other two authors, but I also don't want to claim false credit. As for the other publication, it's a revised version of my senior thesis. I did all of the research for it, but my mentor said that I wouldn't be able to get it published without her name on it. So, she wrote the introduction and her name was listed first. How do I get that information across in my applications? Should I just list my thesis as an unpublished manuscript and the revised version as a second publication? I also did a presentation on the thesis at a conference, but once again my mentor was listed in the program. However, I was the only one at the conference.... So, am I first or second author for the presentation? Any input would be great!
 
Jul 29, 2010
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As for the other publication, it's a revised version of my senior thesis. I did all of the research for it, but my mentor said that I wouldn't be able to get it published without her name on it. So, she wrote the introduction and her name was listed first. How do I get that information across in my applications? Should I just list my thesis as an unpublished manuscript and the revised version as a second publication? I also did a presentation on the thesis at a conference, but once again my mentor was listed in the program. However, I was the only one at the conference.... So, am I first or second author for the presentation? Any input would be great!
I'm not sure how you should handle the law pub (sorry) so I will just focus on this section.

Before I get to your question, I must point out how peeved I am by the part in bolded text. That was a very suspect move on you mentor's part. Unfortunately I don't think you can make this point in the application. The order of authorship for psych pubs are fixed once the manuscript has been accepted. If your name was on the conference presentation, list it as it appeared in the meeting program. Again, this matter is fixed once the project is accepted for presentation. It sounds like you got a raw deal, but at your stage of training any publication (first author or not) is very helpful. Go ahead and list both the publication and poster with all authors in the order listed when the projects were accepted. Just be mindful in the future that clout or name alone does not warrant first authorship. Level of effort is the criteria.

Also for future reference, be advised that listing the same project in more than one format (publication and conference presentation) becomes more problematic at later training stages as it may look like CV-"padding". But as a pre-graduate student you should be OK. The main idea right now is to show that you have some experience with how research works. So don't sweat it too much. You sound to be in good shape. Good luck. :luck:
 
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JockNerd

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Having an application with four publications is going to be damn impressive anyhow--I'd just list in apa format and go with that; you might not get all due credit but it doesn't seem like a big deal to me given how competitive your cv probably looks anyway.

O Gurl is right that your mentor was full of bs. Reviewers don't know whose paper they're reviewing and an editor with that attitude would be an idiot. She DEFINITELY did not deserve first for writing an introduction. The apa manual is clear about authorship and her actions here were unethical.
 

Jon Snow

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The apa manual is clear about authorship and her actions here were unethical.
Maybe. Doing all of the work isn't always so clear cut. Take this situation:

- undergrad comes to professor, "Hi, I want to do some research."
- professor, "What are you interested in?"
- undergrad, "I just want to get some experience doing research, I like psychology, and other students have said that you are good to work with."
- professor "Okay, well I have a protocol I've written to study the effects of X on Y. Let me tell you about it. You see, when x is present, there seems to be a high likelihood that y will be effects. But, thus far, there is no direct evidence of this relationship. We've done some preliminary work demonstrating, indirectly, via Z, that x may have an effect on Y, but we really need to demonstrate the direct relationship. This is a conceptually complicated matter, but it's really quite simple to evaluate. All we need is to use the following method (describes method) and recruit B population. Should take maybe a half hour per subject. Are you interested?"
- undergrad, "Yes!"
- Professor, "okay, read the protocol, I'd like you to gather the materials specified and make subject folders, say 40 of them. Talk to Sue, she should be able to tell you where to get these things. When you're through, come run the protocol on me, and then we'll start recruiting."

Undergrad then does what the professor said, runs all of the subjects, scores all of the protocols, and codes the data. He or she works with another student in the lab, under the professors direction, to generate stats for the project. They meet with the professor, the professor discussed interpretation, asks them to write a draft of the methods, results, and discussion. The student does. They go through a few revisions. Professor writes an intro, edits everything, and then the student is ready to submit. Who should be first author?

In that situation, my tactic, has been to place myself as last author. In the medical world, this is considered to be the senior author position. Give the 1st author to the student. That way both get lots of credit. However, in the psychology world, some places recognize senior author and some not. That complicates matters. Because, essentially, the professor is giving away his or her expertise and ideas to someone that could never generate it on their own. Project doesn't exist without the professor, but could fill in the undergrad with another undergrad, without problem. I know some folks that wouldn't even give the undergrad an authorship credit in that scenario (as in not listed). THAT is unethical, in my view, but the idea is that the undergrad is acting as a technician and is not making conceptual contributions to the project (somewhat defensible).
 
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Born2rumble1st

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Personally, I don't feel as if my mentor's actions were unethical. Yes, I did do the majority of the actual writing and research, but she did provide a lot of support throughout the process. She also took responsibility for communicating with the publisher and making any last minute edits that were required (including reformatting ALL the citations to fit this weird format they wanted). Her research also formed the initial starting point from which my research grew. All in all, I doubt I would have the publication without her guidance, so I'm fine with her having first author. My main concern was letting schools know that I developed and executed the study, rather than just contributing to the literature review or something. I think I'm going to solve that by detailing what my role was in the production of the publication in my personal statement, and leave it at that. Thanks for the advice, though!

Now, I just have to figure out what order to list the authors in my legal publication....
 
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My main concern was letting schools know that I developed and executed the study, rather than just contributing to the literature review or something. I think I'm going to solve that by detailing what my role was in the production of the publication in my personal statement, and leave it at that.
Another option would be to detail your role under the "research activities" section of your CV.

Now, I just have to figure out what order to list the authors in my legal publication....
I would just list them in the order they appear in the journal. You don't want to risk someone searching for your work and being put-off by the re-ordering. I doubt many psychologists will be aware of the way authorship works in law journals or will take time out to research it if they are busy reviewing several apps. You sound like far too strong of an applicant to risk letting a misunderstanding taint your application. But that is just my opinion.
 

Ollie123

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I have seen authors put an asterisk by two names in a journal article and say something like "Both first and second authors contributed equally to this manuscript". You could probably do something similar on your CV if you really want to, though I'm not convinced this will make or break your application unless the article is directly related to what you are applying to psychology programs for (i.e. it was a legal article on juror decision making and now you are applying to a psych lab that studies the same thing).

I also have to side with Jon on this not necessarily being unethical...it could be, but I don't know we have enough info to make that call. Though the professors reasoning (thye won't publish it without my name on it) is certainly bull. It may have been a nice way of saying "I need to spend lots of time editing to make it publishable".

Either way, I think we get too caught up in the writing. Its an important step, true, but this is not writing a novel....you can look at major journals and most articles are clear and concise, but writing was far from the end-all be-all determinant of effort. Many faculty have their students write up most of an article for their grant and are given authorship but the faculty retain first author. My advisor has actually been very kind about giving me first author on many things he didn't have to, but as Jon mentioned we are in a medical setting. He WANTS last author, and oddly enough, we also want MORE authors rather than fewer. Solo authored pubs are actually viewed badly compared to pubs with 8 authors from 8 different departments. I don't necessarily agree with this, but its the truth.

Anyways, the broader point is that I'm not sure we should be judging them here. I don't know the context and how much "guidance" the faculty member had to give. As Jon said if it was a "Here's your idea, here is how to collect the data (or here IS the data), I will show you how to analyze it and we can discuss what it means" - the writing is really secondary to me and not reflective of whose publication that "really" is.
 
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I certainly see where Jon and Ollie are coming from. The concept often outweighs the manual labor of just writing it up. The OP's statement that it was her thesis, her design, her analysis, etc. along with the B.S. reason provided by the mentor ("It won't get published without my name") were the red flags for me. The OP has clarified that the mentor did a lot more than just the intro and that he/she is comfortable with arrangement, so it sounds fine to me. I must note, however, that it has been my experience that when it comes to the thesis and dissertation where the student develops the study, executes, and writes it, the student gets 1st author. Otherwise, we'd have a ton of mentors getting 1st author pubs for every product that comes from a thesis or dissertation that they chair.
 

JockNerd

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The clarification makes more sense. I saw some issues related to ethics and publishing in my program lately and may have been projecting extra frustration when I saw the same flags O Gurl saw :)

I also think O Gurl is right that you've got to just list the authors as they appear on the pub. It would look pretty bad to be listed higher on your CV than on the other pub (I've never heard of the law authorship rules and I would be alarmed if I saw that). And, if you were to muck around with author order, distribution of labor research is pretty clear that everyone always overestimates their own contributions anyhow!
 
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Born2Rumble: perhaps this issue is something one of your recommenders could address in their letter. How or in what way I don't know. Just a suggestion. I'm sorry you got screwed like that. In any case, overall your publication credentials are impressive. Few applicants have many publications to show for. That said, keep in mind your other offerings such as the letters, your personal statement, your scores, are more important to the committees, so I'm sure you're in a fine place.
 
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Ollie123

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Otherwise, we'd have a ton of mentors getting 1st author pubs for every product that comes from a thesis or dissertation that they chair.
Big difference between a master's thesis or a dissertation and an undergrad thesis;) It raised some flags for me too...my point was not that the advisor was definitely in the right, just that we can't assume he was in the wrong either from the info presented.

I am probably biased by what I have seen at my current institution and my undergrad, but there are a fair number of undergrads who are good students, able to get good grades, but are clearly not suited for academia or doctoral-level education, at least not yet. I suspect this is quite common at larger institutions. We've had several undergrads do a thesis in our lab - some are great and were very independent. Others required step-by-step instructions for each and every aspect of it, from the terms they will want to use in a literature search, to not just what kind of analysis to run but the syntax and/or instructions for how to run it. And while they were great at following those instructions when given in detail, that (to me) is by no means a justification for first authorship. My point was just that we don't know the situation here.

Also OP - please don't take it personally that I'm saying this - I have no idea what went on and for all I know the above is not true of you at all, I just wanted to mention it as a possibility.
 

ventstri

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Also for future reference, be advised that listing the same project in more than one format (publication and conference presentation) becomes more problematic at later training stages as it may look like CV-"padding". But as a pre-graduate student you should be OK. The main idea right now is to show that you have some experience with how research works. So don't sweat it too much. You sound to be in good shape. Good luck. :luck:
I'm not sure this necessarily constitutes CV-padding. It's common for a conference presentation to subsequently become a publication. I look favorably upon people at any level who have the drive to finish a project by seeing it all the way through to publication, and I would consider seeing a presentation with the same title as a later publication evidence of such drive.
 
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Big difference between a master's thesis or a dissertation and an undergrad thesis;) It raised some flags for me too...my point was not that the advisor was definitely in the right, just that we can't assume he was in the wrong either from the info presented.
Agreed. Again, I made that point based on the original post that stated it was her thesis, her design, her data analysis, and her writing (all except the intro) and that the mentor's reasoning was that her name was needed for publication. I certainly agree that there are some situations where undergrads require an extreme about of assistance. It simply didn't sound like the case from the original info presented.
 
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I'm not sure this necessarily constitutes CV-padding. It's common for a conference presentation to subsequently become a publication. I look favorably upon people at any level who have the drive to finish a project by seeing it all the way through to publication, and I would consider seeing a presentation with the same title as a later publication evidence of such drive.
Certainly true. Except for very clear cases where the same talk or same poster is used in two different meetings, there are no hard and fast rules. When it comes to the evolution of a project from a thesis, to a poster, to a peer-reviewed article, for example, things are far more subjective. The way it has been framed for me is an issue of experience and redundancy. I had a poster presentation from a national conference listed on my CV along with the 3 articles that resulted from the project (dissertation) which were in preparation at the time I submitted internship apps. Now I am preparing for post-doc apps and am considering dropping the poster. If not now, then when all articles are in press (still waiting on one). I respect if other people do things differently, though. Who knows, perhaps I am being overly conservative in that regard.