Quantcast

Should I be given authorship in a paper for creating a substantial but supplemental figure?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

Pantaloooons

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
Messages
115
Reaction score
30
If my understanding of your contribution is accurate, then the figure you've put together is not very difficult to do and doesn't really add intellectually to the publication. Unfortunately for you, your PI is probably doing the "right" thing. As for the other grad student, I wouldn't worry about that, since you may be unaware of his full intellectual contribution to the project.

All in all, don't worry too much about being a co-author - although nice, your PI's LOR should talk about your creativity, leadership, etc. Authorship is a nice bonus but would probably not make or break you, IMO.

What are you studying anyway?
 

piii

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2013
Messages
2,125
Reaction score
4,802
I have six years of lab experience. These things happen. It doesn't really matter what we think. I've been published for things I've had minor contributions for, and I haven't been recognized on papers where I've had larger contributions. What matters is that you communicate with your PI professionally your concerns and your goals. If he won't budge on this, ask for a larger part in some other work and ultimately respect his decision. If you don't like the work environment then it is your responsibility to change jobs.

Having a publication is nice but what matters more is how you talk about your experiences in your interviews and essays.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Pantaloooons

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
Messages
115
Reaction score
30
The paper is basically about how this protein has a secondary function when it gets cleaved and creates a novel isoform. This isoform translocates into the nucleus to bind to transcription factors and alter gene expression for that cell. I dug around the BLAST/EST database/RNA-seq database and found that this isoform is conserved among other genes in the same family, which suggests that this may play a really important role in cell signaling for eukaryotes. I also found out that this second isoform is expressed less in cancer tissues so it may have something to do with carcinogenesis. I made a figure showing the splicing mechanisms of each gene in the family, where the exons are differentially spliced compared to the normal, and the protein that it becomes translated to.

Is this experimental data apart of the manuscript in question? From my naive understanding of this field, it sounds like this is important, especially if your results are publishable.

The thing about bioinformatics analysis is that in a lot of cases, for it to be really meaningful is to have experimental results that substantiate the story. If you produced hard data, that would arguably be in the direction of co-authorship, but bioinformatics alone is usually not enough.
 

Pantaloooons

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
Messages
115
Reaction score
30
Yes, my PI did mention not having experimental results in the paper to back up the data that I found online. However, we don't have multiple human tissues just chillin' (heh pun intended) in the lab for us to use, and he doesn't want to order some and spend the time testing them if it's not required for publication.

Strictly speaking, I think your PI is right not to extend authorship in this case, since all of your analysis is in silico and isn't the focus of the manuscript. What you're proposing through your bioinformatics analysis is basically just a hypothesis (but a very interesting one nonetheless). I know some PI's would be more than happy to have a student such as yourself (2+ years, senior student) as a co-author on a paper regardless of whether you produced hard data.

If you're motivated enough, what you can do is contact other labs at your university and ask if you can acquire some of their cell lines and use it to test your hypothesis using an in vitro model. This route would be relatively cheap and if the data is promising enough, you can move forward with whole tissue samples. Of course, this whole thing would likely take 1+ years (may be a good gap year project?), but it sounds rather promising and you'd be 1st author on this study, provided you establish the key findings in such a study.
 

Goro

Full Member
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
69,479
Reaction score
108,256
My rule of thumb is that if you've made an intellectual contribution to the paper, you deserve authorship credit. Outside of that, you deserve an acknowledgement, which is what it sounds like your part was....as in "we thank mdog2015 for expert artwork".

Did you generate the data that led tot he figure. Write any part of the Results or Discussion for it????

Nowadays, Supplemental Data is all that stuff that used to be parenthetically described in a paper as "data not shown".



Hi everyone,

I have been working on a research project for the past 2 years have done a lot of bioinformatics work for a paper. So far, I have created a figure that shows conservations between different genes in the same superfamily. It is not central to the topic of the paper, more like extra information to support their findings. However, there is a whole section dedicated at the end of the paper to discuss my figure and it is even mentioned at the end of the abstract. I am currently finishing up two more figures for the paper that are also just supplemental, and my PI thinks they will really help with getting the paper published.

However, I am currently only acknowledged at the end for sequence analysis, right next to a couple people who were acknowledged for giving advice...Furthermore, there is a grad student from another lab that is currently listed as an author, but he only contributed one supplemental figure as well. I talked to my PI about authorship and he said my figures were not central to the paper and there were no labratory experiments done in support of my findings since I got all my data from online sources (GEO, NCBI, etc.). I didn't mention the grad student because I thought I would sound petty. But I feel like this really unfair because this was the project that he gave me when I started and he won't let me transition into lab because I am the only one who is able to do bioinformatics.

Do you guys think I should be listed as an author for the paper or am I being petty? If so, what should I do? I am already a senior and I feel like it's too late to change labs or focus. I have also heard from other undergraduates working in his lab that not a single undergrad has been given authorship for a paper...

TLDR; Made a figure that was "supplemental" even though it was mentioned in the abstract and discussed a lot in the paper. Was acknowledged and not given authorship. A grad student did the same thing and was given authorship. What do
 

bearintraining

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
1,827
Reaction score
1,111
In my mind you likely deserve an authorship, but legitimately hard to tell without knowing the paper. People tend to undervalue bioinformatics and it's not acceptable. That said, I come from a lab where people (techs anyway) got authorship for being only peripherally involved. It sounds like you contributed intellectually, so that's also what I'm basing my decision on.

In the end though, these things are up to the PI. some are nice and will be supportive and, if nothing else, explain what you could've or can do in future to get an authorship. Some PIs just don't care unfortunately, especially if you're just a mere undergrad.
 

Rainbow Zebra

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
1,253
Reaction score
1,178
I did some original artwork for a published paper, and it was an acknowledgement, not authorship. I am getting an authorship for experiments and analysis that I ran. I think an acknowledgement in your case is warranted, not authorship.
 

Doug Underhill

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
1,871
Reaction score
1,405
You can still list the paper on AMCAS. Just mention that you are in the acknowledgements (not the authors) and you made figure X.
 

WhittyPsyche

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
2,122
Reaction score
2,999
Do researchers strictly follow the authorship guidelines? Because it seems that getting a name on the paper has to do more with politics than with actual contributions

In my lab I do most of the writing of the paper, the review/edits, and the actual submissions.
Some of these projects I did not do the experiments/projects myself but as the L.M. I write the manuscripts, so I have to collect all the info from each person to string it all together, so I know exactly what each person has done. Sadly, I've noticed that my PI seems to put degree abbreviations over contribution sometimes. I guess it's so known names are higher in authorship, to increase chances of acceptance to a journal. Whatever the reason, it's unfortunate.

One recent example, two post bac researchers did I would say >70% of the work and had the least authorship. And one of our "remote RAs", an MD, and associate professor at a big research powerhouse wrote part of the discussion, having had no work in the actual project or much else, and was put as 2nd author.
 
Top