Crake

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Ok, so I work in a lab at one of the local medical schools. Really, it's more accurate to say that I am "affiliated" with a lab at one of the local medical schools. I volunteer, so I'm not paid.

Nevertheless, I do a ton of work. I'm working on two gigantic projects simultaneously. And by "working" I mean that I designed the databases (excel) from the ground up by myself, did all the data entry, and did all the statistical analysis by myself. On one of the projects, I even did virtually all the data collection by myself as well. I'd say I've put in 30 hours on one, and 80 hours on the other, all told, in a period of under two weeks--for several days I virtually worked around the clock.

My question is, should I expect to get authorship for this? I'm not saying first, or even second author--but should I expect to get anything? I mean, I DID do virtually all of the work and to be perfectly honest, and I don't mean to sound arrogant, but both projects are excellent and my PI was very impressed. My PI is a research fellow (a resident) and she lives in the publish or perish world of research; I don't even mind if she takes full credit for everything, I just feel like I should get some authorship credit in the final publication. Am I being unreasonable? I know people at school that get published for doing something minor on a project, like staining slides.

My PI did mention, when she interviewed us (research assistants) to work with her, that she would include us on anything that we did a significant amount of the work on. It's just that she hasn't told me yet, and I'm getting anxious. Also, if I'm not being unreasonable, what would be a tactful way of going about asking to have my name included?
 

Shredder

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why dont you try asking other people in the lab? they should know better than anyone, especially the ones who have been acquainted with the boss for a long time. from the sound of it you should get some kind of authorship at that rate. the staining slide thing is not really even an exaggeration, sometimes people just get lucky. 30 and 80 hours is so short however.
 

mstald1

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If you have done virtually all of the data collection on a particular project then you certainly deserve your name on the publication. However, authorship completely depends on the PI's personal philosophy on the matter. Many are of the belief that simply doing the lab work is not enough to warrant authorship, that there must be some fundamental contribution of ideas into the project. As a side note, and please don't be offended, but I am curious what kind of "gigantic projects" can be nearly completed with 80 hours of work. I am a graduate student in viral immunology and can't imagine a research project that could be completed in such a short period of time, though I do understand studies are quite different between fields.
 

bbaek

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for me, i wouldn't consider even 80 hours of work worthy of publication. however, if you feel that it must be addressed, like one of the above posters said, ask around and at the opportune time, ask your PI about it.

however, even the journal name counts when publishing. as for me, my PI won't allow any students to have anything published under his name unless the journal is a top ten % journal WORLD-WIDE. and i'm trying to aim for a first-authorship, which if you don't know, are two very different worlds from being a second author. no comparison can be made between 1st and 2nd or coauthorship, 1st is on a plane of its own.

good luck and hopefully it ends up well for you!
 
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Crake

Crake

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Oh well its statistical research. By "gigantic" I mean that the database itself is enormous, and I put it all together virtually by myself. I am fairly certain that one of the projects is going to be published and evidently the two fellows that work in the lab would both like to get first authorship. In fact they are fighting each other tooth and nail for it. Even more irritating, one fellow would like me to quit working for my current PI and come work for him, since my work has been getting a very positive reception in the lab. However this is an entire other tale of interlab intrigue that I still am not entirely sure how to handle, I'll spare all of you.

I would prefer to remain vague about where I work and what I do (you never know who's reading these) suffice it to say that its in a surgical field that is very hot right now and the sheer number of publications that is flowing out of this lab is remarkable. I have heard that the department head is very well known in the field, and that publications with his imprimateur get published very quickly.

Oh, also note that I said 30 to 80 hours over TWO weeks. Like I said, it's all statistical research, so there is no downtime (i.e. letting experiments develop, etc.) basically I put everything together and my PI says, "oh here's an interesting result. . ." For instance, just this Friday night my PI is like "Dr. X (an attending) would like to present the Y study at a conference on Monday, can you finish all the statistical analysis by Saturday morning?" and, of course, I did, even though I had to pull an all nighter on a Friday night for a job I don't get paid for. This probably sounds trivial to a graduate student, however you have to remember that there is no publish or perish atomosphere hovering over postbaccs--we work of our own volition.

I will say that from what I have seen, and I am a relative novice, there is a much faster pace to biomedical research than to the hard sciences. The PIs in this lab really do work around the clock and get things out very very fast. In contrast, I have a friend who does research in polymer chemistry that will spend more than a year on a project before submitting it; time appears relative.
 
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Crake

Crake

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I'm aware that journal name counts. This is most definitely not being published in Nature, Science or the New England Journal of Medicine, ect. Nevertheless, is there any disadvantage to getting published in a less prestigious journal? Especially in medicine, it seems that quantity is valued just as much as quality (however irrational this may seem)

Oh, and congratulations on getting first author, particularly if you're an undergrad, that's quite an accomplishment.
 

mstald1

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There is more than just name recognition and prestige that comes with publishing in a reputable journal, there is credibility. Once you have read hundreds of research articles and have developed a more discerning eye for the quality of research you are actually looking at (not that you haven't, but just as a general statement), you begin to realize that the lesser publications print a lot of crap. This is generally understood and accepted within the scientific community. Read an article in Science, or even J. of Virology, or whatever the top trade journal for your field is, and then compare it to an article in The Scandinavian Journal of ______, you will find that the comparison between the science conducted and the conclusions presented is pretty much a joke. This is not to say that even the top journals don't print crap sometimes, it happens, but not nearly as much. The reason that thousands of lesser journals can exist is because research of any kind is a publish or perish existance. As such, many researchers simply accept what they can get, or just put out as many papers as they can. Quantity definitely carries weight, but only as far as the quality of the work will take it.