Grants won vs grants awarded on your CV

Mar 26 2015 Published by under Careerism

Sometimes you have to turn down something that you sought competitively.

Undergrad or graduate school admission offers. Job offers. Fellowships.

Occasionally, research support grants.

Do you list these things on your CV? I can see the temptation.

If you view your CV as being about competitive accolades. But we don't do that. In academics your CV is a record of what you have done. Which undergraduate University conferred a degree upon you. Which place granted your doctorate. Who was silly enough to hire you for a real job.

We don't list undergrad or grad school bids or the places that we turned down for a job offer.

So don't list grants you didn't take either.

83 responses so far

  • Duke of Neural says:

    But a grant you were awarded seems like something you have done. You wrote a funded app. Seems like it's as listable as grants that you did accept.

    Turned down places and grad schools aren't a large investment of time and are based off of stuff that IS represented on your CV.

  • meshugena313 says:

    you really think that in these crazy times that one shouldn't list such a significant accomplishment? My student just got a crazy good score on his first F31 draft, but it won't be funded. I suggested he put that on his CV anyway. Am I wrong?

  • Ola says:

    Depends on career stage. I could see for example a K awardee turning down a foundation grant or institutional pilot funding on the same topic - that would be OK to list; but for anyone "established" this is a taboo.

    Another fine line one for you DM... Should senior investigators list fellowships and other awards won by their trainees? I've tended to avoid this, although I've seen even bio-sketches with this stuff listed. I can only imagine the new egocentric bio will make this worse.

  • BugDoc says:

    "Should senior investigators list fellowships and other awards won by their trainees? I've tended to avoid this, although I've seen even bio-sketches with this stuff listed."

    Why should this be avoided? I put a lot of effort into mentoring my students and postdocs in how to prepare applications and they are very successful in getting external fellowships. Shouldn't mentorship contributions be valued?

  • meshugena313 says:

    Yes, I agree with Ola. This should be calibrated based on career stage. I wouldn't list trainee grants on my biosketch, but would certainly use it for promotion, lateral job searches, etc.

  • Davis Sharp says:

    Are we talking about the NIH Biosketch? If so, the instructions are quite clear.

    D. Research Support
    List both selected ongoing and completed research projects for the past three years (Federal or non-Federally supported).

    If the CV is for other purposes, I suppose you could create a section called "Declined Support," but (IMO) that would raise more questions about your professionalism and maturity than the reasons for declining the awards.

  • Jim Woodgett says:

    I think it's OK to do this early in a career as a students or postdocs CV is going to be thin and it indicates willingness to apply for funding, etc. It can come over as bragging and is not easily verifiable, but the harm is minimal. Once in an independent position it can look superfluous and padding.

    As for listing unfunded scores, it's something you might say verbally but on a CV it is unlikely to help as is about as useful as including a journal name in a submitted manuscript.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    Turned down admits and job offers, of course not. But for early career scientists, especially those actively applying to positions, by all means they should include the grants that they won competitively but could not accept for one reason or another. Being able to show that your science (and grantsmanship) was deemed fundable by multiple panels/agencies means big points for the noobs' as yet unproven profiles.

  • Grumble says:

    This is terrible advice, DM. A cv is not just a record of one's accomplishments. It is, in fact, also a sales tool, just like a resume. And getting a grant award is a real accomplishment these days, even if you have to decline it. So it belongs in there even if you view the cv as just a list of accomplishments and not a sales pitch. And this applies to people of all career stages.

    By the way, the other thing that should go in there is talks you were invited to give at conferences that you had to decline for one reason or the other (e.g., conflicts with another conference or teaching responsibilities). Getting invited to give a talk is an honor, and you absolutely should list all honors you get.

  • TheGrinch says:

    "In academics your CV is a record of what you have done."

    Err, by this logic, why do we even put grants -- any grant -- on the CV? After all, grants just enable us to do what we want, right? We should just put papers published and that should be sufficient.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's the Biosketch logic. To show you have performed a given role on a funded project of a given size, scope, etc. It isn't the mere fact that it was awarded to you that is important.

  • Established PI says:

    I'm with DM. I occasionally see this on CVs (fellowships turned down) and it makes a negative impression. To me, people who do this come off as insecure, not extra-accomplished. Stick to the record of the awards you accepted. The only exception is if you returned an award mid-way in order to accept another one (this happens in rare instances), in which case the information is merely explaining why the duration of the grant wasn't the typical one.

  • Dr Becca says:

    By the way, the other thing that should go in there is talks you were invited to give at conferences that you had to decline for one reason or the other

    Should you do this at the faculty level, too, do you think? I've had to withdraw from speaking at two international conferences this year for money reasons. Never occurred to me to include them on my CV.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Putting unverifiable stuff on a CV seems like an invitation to shenanigans to me.

  • Established PI says:

    Listing declined talks and grants is like wearing a big sign announcing that your accomplishments are inadequate and that you are massively insecure. Hide your insecurity and list awards, grants and talks that were actually received/given.

  • dr24hours says:

    Anything you can prove is true and helps you get what you want belongs on your CV. I have an awarded grant I didn't accept on my CV because I'm still trying to keep professorships open, and it shows I've been awarded external funding. If the time comes I don't think it's relevant to my career goals, I'll take it off. And if someone wants to see the summary statement and notice of award, I can send it to them.

    Your CV is a tool, and can be adapted to the purpose to which it is being put, within the bounds of honesty and verifiability.

  • Dr Igg says:

    Leave it off.

    Invitations to talks, job offers, university acceptance, grant awards etc are all just an invitation to actual accomplishment. The more important story happens after you accept these things. Most of the people spending the time reading your CV are interested in what you can do with an opportunity if given.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    @Established PI - in today's funding climate I wonder whether feeling insecure is not that uncommon? I'm talking from an early career perspective of course. For established PIs, I see your point - it might seem more like bragging than a sincere attempt at showing the feathers that your developing plumage is capable of sprouting.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    Also, it doesn't help that a large number of faculty job ads have the following sentence: "candidate should have demonstrated potential for obtaining extramural funding". Why wouldn't people feel insecure?

  • Busy says:

    This must be field specific because in mine it's absolutely standard to list declined fellowships and awards, particularly the really prestigious ones that are incompatible with each other. E.g. PDF fellowship from the H. Foundation and a PDF fellowship from the W. Trust. You would definitely list both with one of them declined.

    As you get more senior you should cull your CV from minor accomplishments, but this is not specific to grants or awards declined. I've heard people say that as a rule of thumb a CV shouldn't exceed 20 pages, no matter what you've done: "cured cancer and other lethal diseases", "winner of Nobel of Medicine and 20 other international awards", etc.

    Lastly, I definitely list the major awards won by my trainees in my CV and twice I've gotten grant reviews with stellar marks on training that specifically mention those awards.

    In terms of grants as Noncoding A. says it provides further evidence that you are proficient at obtaining funds, something that is considered incredibly important in this climate to obtain a job.

  • Busy says:

    I'm with Grumble. The CV is many things, including a sales pitch. As such you should include anything that can be reasonably be considered highly relevant to your position. The fact that several funding bodies have found your research worthy of funding is highly relevant as is the fact that your colleagues have asked you to give a plenary talk.

    Right now we are in the middle of hiring season and all of those things are noted and compared between candidates: how many grants, for how much, how often (including declined), fellowships during studies, students supervised, etc.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I can see it both ways, but I cant see it bothering me if I were to see it on an a CV. One argument would be that in the current environment where funding decisions seem more and more fraught or increasingly affected by arbitrary distinctions, I'd consider that maybe it would be a positive. If one is looking for a reason to slam someone or think ill of them or psychoanalyze this type of thing on a CV, then I would start to worry about personal issues of the reviewer. It is reasonable to condider that such a thing might not be universally received but when DM talks about writing a proposal from a defensive crouch and then we discuss this as a possible attitude shaper then I worry we might all be permanently scarred and completely defensive.

  • Grumble says:

    Indication of insecurity? What nonsense. If anything, listing grants, invited talks, etc that you had to turn down is an indication of how much pride someone has in their accomplishments. You could even say it indicates arrogance. As a reviewer on a hiring committee or whatever, I certainly wouldn't jump to conclusions about an applicant's personality based on the cv alone. I'd wait until I met and talked with the person. I really don't think "turned down grant X" would give me a negative impression, but it would increase my confidence that the applicant writes and gets grants prolifically.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    A much more important topic for discussion is whether it's appropriate to change the listing order of "co-first" authors.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    and BOOM goes the dynamite. ^

  • DrugMonkey says:

    We put that one to rest years ago. Clearly it is acceptable to reorder if you have ever once published with "co equal" anywhere on the author line.

  • Dude, you are out of your fucken mind. Faculty jobbe candidates have been shitcanned and grants withdrawn from review over this shittio. (Well, actually in the grant situation, the SRO told us to review the grant without considering this ethical issue, and that it would be dealt with post-review. The grant got triaged anyway, and I was told that it was then withdrawn from consideration after the review.)

    Anyone reading this, don't listen to DoucheMonkey! FALSIFYING THE ORDER OF AUTHORS ON YOUR CV IS AN ETHICAL BREACH! At best it makes you look like a shady sleazebagge and who knows what else you'll falsify, and at worst it will lead to direct adverse consequences, as outlined above.

  • jmz4 says:

    " I really don't think "turned down grant X" would give me a negative impression"
    -It would for me. That's a rather indelicate way of putting it.
    If someone just listed it under "Grants Awarded", and then in parentheses next to it, put "(declined)", I think that seems reasonable, but I'm not at the stage where I have to judge these things yet. Listing speaking engagements you've turned down seems a bit like bravado, since you didn't actually *do* anything. In fact, it would lead me to suspect elitism and question why a person thought their time was too valuable to go talk about their science at a conference.

    I think listing mentoring achievements is appropriate for most applications, but I'd rather see an endpoint metric (they now have jobs at X,Y and Z), than talking about grants they were awarded.

    @DM: I don't think switching co-first authors is appropriate. The very fact that you're doing it means there was some importance to the order, and so changing it to elevate your own importance is dishonest. Put an asterisk and a note below.

    What do you guys think about putting links or comments about papers that were featured in the news media? What about Faculty of 1000 reviews? Altmetric scores? TV appearances?

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    Wow, I never would have thought that switching co-first authorship would be considered acceptable by some. Is it really necessary? When the article clearly says co-first authors, it means co-first authors. We get it. Switching authorship won't make you more of a first author. Whenever I see co-first authorships, I just assume that the person listed as first had heavier political weight in the final say.

    Maybe journals should start listing co-first authors on a separate line below one another and then list the others! :^/ ...but then who gets to be on top?! Switch em!

  • Established PI says:

    My advice not to list grants and fellowships that you declined is based on my own experience serving on committees and panels making decisions about hiring, promotions and awards, and from my perspective in a basic science field (biochemistry/biophysics/molecular biology). Some reviewers may give it a pass and some will view it as exhibiting insecurity (or overpreening - whatever, not positive). If it is common practice in your field to list declined awards then by all means do so, but be aware that in some areas it will not help and could reflect negatively on the candidate.

    (@NA - of course everyone is feeling insecure these days - across all career stages.)

  • AcademicLurker says:

    What about Faculty of 1000 reviews? Altmetric scores? TV appearances?

    The real measure of impact is obviously the number of comments on your blog posts.

  • newbie PI says:

    I was never fortunate enough to be in this situation, but one of my friends was chosen to receive two of the most extremely competitive postdoctoral fellowship awards at the same time. She accepted the one that gave slightly more money, and lists them both on her CV, one after the other with (declined) beside one of them. It's self-explanatory that she got two fellowships and could only accept one. This shows that she was able to tailor a grant and get funded by two separate agencies. How could that possibly be a bad thing? Also, she had many more faculty job interviews than me, so it didn't seem to be viewed as negative by hiring committees.

    Also, in response to some of the comments above, as a new PI, I have a "Mentorship" section at the end of my CV where I list my student trainees and the awards/fellowships they have received. It's a demonstration that I'm doing a good job helping my trainees to write applications and that other people in positions of power view my lab as a good place for students to conduct science.

  • drugmonkey says:

    So undoubtedly, CPP, you get exactly as exercised when a listed-first co-equal conveniently fails to note this fact? Otherwise YOU are the sleazy unethical dirtbag in this scenario for perpetuating this horrible system of exploitation.

  • physioprof says:

    So undoubtedly, CPP, you get exactly as exercised when a listed-first co-equal conveniently fails to note this fact?

    No, I don't, because it is not falsifying the bibliographic record. Asterisks and other footnotes in the author list aren't part of the bibliographic record.

    When the article clearly says co-first authors, it means co-first authors. We get it.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!

  • Busy says:

    I've seen what Established PI describes, and is not about listing declined fellowships.

    Panelists sometimes search for absurd reasons to put down an excellent proposal in a subconscious leveling of the playing field. I know of a grant that was using visual spectrum light for some studies which was rejected because it didn't consider the harmful issues from "electro-magnetic radiation". This happens sometimes during interviews as well, where some people suddenly start talking about minutiae in what are otherwise excellent candidates (their socks didn't match!) in an attempt to forestall local competition.

    I want proof that your work is good. Every award you get (declined or not) tells me: someone else went over this dude/dudette's work and found it prizeworthy as well.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "Bibliographic record" is pure sophistry PP. Nice try. Has nothing to do with your unethical and immoral position on the practice of using the equal-contribution scam to screw over listed-not-first authors.

  • physioprof says:

    Dude, the official bibliographic record isn't "sophistry"; it's the real thing. Is it unethical to fail to include the "Author Contributions" on your CV? How about the acknowledgements? You are a lame troll with this nonsense, and you know full well that afirmatively falsifying the bibliographic record in your CV is categorically different than any of this other stuff.

    And as far as the "equal-contribution scam", it represents a process of "log-rolling" in an attempt to allocate credit as equitably as possible. A second-listed co-first-author is perceived--and rightly so--as having less credit than a first-listed or co-first-author or sole first-author, but more credit than an ordinary second author. The reasons for attributions of co-first-authorship have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that there is a major ethical distinction between affirmatively falsifying the bibliographic record in your CV and failing to include asterisks and other footnotes.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    "A second-listed co-first-author is perceived--and rightly so--as having less credit than a first-listed or co-first-author or sole first-author, but more credit than an ordinary second author. "

    That is an uncharitable generalization. It gets murkier when the study is done in separate labs, where both co-first authors busted their butts. I have heard of instances where it led to shouting and bawling between trainees over this issue. So, it is not always that black and white, CPP.

  • physioprof says:

    What I said is completely consistent with what you said. That's exactly why there is shouting and bawling when it comes to deciding who is first-listed and who is second-listed, because who wouldn't want the position with more credit?

  • AcademicLurker says:

    I initially read "bawling" and "brawling". I suppose that happens sometimes too.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    What is completely inconsistent with what I'm saying is the 'perception' aspect of your statement. It is unfair to form an automatic judgement that the second listed author had a lesser contribution than the first listed.

  • Grumble says:

    @jmz:

    "Listing speaking engagements you've turned down seems a bit like bravado, since you didn't actually *do* anything. In fact, it would lead me to suspect elitism and question why a person thought their time was too valuable to go talk about their science at a conference."

    If you win the Doodlefuck Award for Excellence in Biological Science Research, you list it on your cv, right? Even though you didn't actually do a damn thing to get the award, other than be excellent, right? Just like you didn't do anything to earn all those conference talk invitations, other than be excellent, right? I rest my case.

    And in the few instances I've indicated on my CV that I've declined something, I explain why (conflict with X). If I ever decline something because I just can't be arsed to do it (e.g., invitations to be on grant review panels or to review papers I don't give a shit about or am not qualified to review), I do *not* put those on my CV.

  • physioprof says:

    Learn to fucken read: I didn't say that it was correct to perceive that the second-listed author made a "lesser contribution".

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    "A second-listed co-first-author is perceived--and rightly so--as having less credit than a first-listed or co-first-author "

    What else does "and rightly so" and "less credit" in your quoted sentence translate to, doucheprof?

  • physioprof says:

    In what linguistic universe does "credit" mean the same thing as "contribution"? Since you are obviously having reading comprehension troubles, let me speel this out for you:

    Authorship credit is what gets allocated in the process of determining the order of authors in the author list, including the listing order of co-first authors. Author contribution is certainly one input to the authorship credit process, but as DoucheMonkey correctly points out, it isn't the only one. A first-listed co-first author is absolutely correctly perceived as having been allocated greater credit than a second-listed co-first author, which is exactly what I stated. The possibility that the order of "magnitude of contribution" is reversed is a real one: maybe the second-listed co-first author totally got screwed. But this in no way alters the fact that the first-listed was allocated greater credit, and the perception that the first-listed was allocated greater credit is absolutely correct.

    Capice??

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is unfair to form an automatic judgement that the second listed author had a lesser contribution than the first listed.

    And yet this is the system we labor under. So someone is unethically behaving in a morally decrepit manner.

    Either we mean "equal" in which case it is totally ok to switch the order on the CVs and a total travesty of the highest order that PubMed/Medline cannot figure out the very simple step of adding the asterix.

    OR

    Everyone* who participates in this equal-contribution sham knows full well it is just buying off the listed-not-first authors with a pig in a poke but ha-ha-on-them-they-should-realize-this and hey, not our problem. And this is not a good place to be, personal ethical conduct-wise.

    *meaning the PIs

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    "In what linguistic universe does "credit" mean the same thing as "contribution"?"

    In the labs and institutions that I have been in, author credit is heavily linked to and perceived to predominantly entail intellectual and physical contributions. I reckon that is generally true in most places, except your institution it seems.

    "Author contribution is certainly one input to the authorship credit process, but as DoucheMonkey correctly points out, it isn't the only one."

    Author contribution may not be the only input to the credit process, but it sure as heck should be the main input. Hence, when someone thinks of "credit" they usually associate it with direct contributions to the study that do not include bringing lattes for the lab and shining the PI's shoes.

    "The possibility that the order of "magnitude of contribution" is reversed is a real one: maybe the second-listed co-first author totally got screwed. But this in no way alters the fact that the first-listed was allocated greater credit, and the perception that the first-listed was allocated greater credit is absolutely correct."

    Of course, the act of perceiving that the first-listed was allocated greater credit is correct. However, for exactly the situation you described above this perception is flawed and incorrect. That is my point. I'm not talking about you or me. I'm talking about the general manner in which co-first authorships are perceived, resulting in unfair allocation of "credit" aka "contributions" in the reader's mind.

    Comprende?? Si?

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    "Either we mean "equal" in which case it is totally ok to switch the order on the CVs"

    DM, I see your point here. However, I do not feel it is okay to re-order names. Instead, if people just perceived CO-FIRST at face value this wouldn't be necessary.

  • physioprof says:

    DoucheMonkey and you are making up parade of horribles stories to distract from the reality: Given current systems for allocating credit in authorship, co-first authorship allows for a finer-grained and *fairer* metric for allocating credit than occurs in its absence. Can it be abused: obviously. But so can system for allocating credit. An unscrupulous senior author could relegate an author who absolutely merits first authorship to second author. All it does is allow for a finer-grained attribution of credit.

    And regardless, none of this has fucke all to do with the fact that it is an ETHICAL BREACH TO FALSIFY THE BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD ON YOUR CV.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    Dude, get off the dope. I'm not distracting from the reality. Rather, I am trying to bring this fallacy into focus. Can this be a finer-grained metric? Yes. But, can it also be that the co-first authors are truly co-first authors by all measures? Yes. So how does the reader decide what to assume? Me - I provide the benefit of doubt and assume the second scenario. The culture of assuming the first scenario by default is toxic.

    "And regardless,........it is an ETHICAL BREACH TO FALSIFY THE BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD ON YOUR CV."

    Absolutely agreed.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Oho! Now the excuse is that it gives us a "finer grained metric" ??!!???? HAHAHHA! Good one. So why does it claim to be something it isn't!?!!? Why not just say "*author 2 did a shitliad more than authors 3-8"?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Listed first coequals that fail to note this in their CVs are also FALSIFYING THE RECORD. It's pretty simple.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Why not just say "*author 2 did a shitliad more than authors 3-8"?

    I'd love to see that in an "Author Contributions" section some day.

  • physioprof says:

    Dude, we've been through this already. Asterisks, daggers, and other footnotes in the author list are not part of the bibliographic record.

  • drugmonkey says:

    We've also been over the fact your use of "bibliographic" as if that means anything wrt ethics is stupid.

  • physioprof says:

    It is mentoring malpractice for anyone to suggest to impressionable trainees that it is acceptable for them to switch the order of authors from that which has been published by the journal, regardless of any asterisks or other footnotes. And this is independent of perceptions of the ethics: it is a fact that there is zero potential practical upside to moving oneself up in the author order and substantial potential practical downside, which at best includes being considered someone who is loose with the facts and at worst includes procedural sanction.

  • drugmonkey says:

    On that part we agree

  • physioprof says:

    And what other part matters, other than in your fevered imagination?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Your utter lack of ethics and morals on this point, Exploiter.

  • physioprof says:

    Get a grip, holmes. You really think everything would be fantastic if it were some kind of stalinist system where you just wait in your bread line until it's your turn to publish a paper?

  • newbie PI says:

    Hmmm, I've never thought about the ethics of a co-first author who is listed first and doesn't make this distinction on their CV. Interesting.

    I just looked online at the CV of my science nemesis. He does not annotate his shared first-authorship on the paper that got him all the job interviews that I wanted! Now I'm mad!

  • jmz4 says:

    I don't indicate co-first status in my CV (because I'm first-co-first), but I acknowledge that I probably should. The problem is that co-authorship means different things to different people. Mine was the case that CPP describes. Someone needed to exit the lab and save face with a "first author" publication, and so they spent 6 months working on my grad school project. He was an absolute champ, turned out some great data (maybe about 1/3rd of figures in the paper), and my boss suggested giving him co-first status. I initially fought it, then realized no one cares about anything except who is first and last, and gave in.

  • dr24hours says:

    I have co-first author students on a paper I published last year. The acknowledgements says: "Authors 1&2 are liasted alphabetically."

    If one wanted to reorder, and someone contacted me about the appropriateness, I'd defend her. Easy as pie.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    Where the fucken fucke do you get the cockamamie idea that you as a senior author have the authority to give your blessing to another author to falsify the official bibliographic record on their CV? And whose dim opinion of such an act of falsification do you imagine would be swayed by your meaningless blessing?

  • jmz4 says:

    Yeah, I wouldn't encourage them to change the order. If it's a grant or a job interview, they'll probably ask you for a letter of recommendation, and you can make it clear there.

  • Dave says:

    Fuck co-first authorship. I got talked into it once (I was second author) and would never do it again. As the second author nobody really thinks you contributed equally, and the bloody first author tries their best to hide it even if you did (see jmz4 up there).

    As the great George W once said:

    Fool me once............shame on.......shame on you; if you fool me.......you can't get fooled again

  • physioprof says:

    I got talked into it once (I was second author) and would never do it again.

    If you're saying that you should have fought until the bitter end for sole first authorship and actually succeeded in getting it, then you are correct. If you are saying you should have just taken a regular second authorship, then you are making no sense. Because everyone understands that a second-listed co-first authorship is an attribution of greater credit than a regular second author.

  • drugmonkey says:

    No, it means you lost the fight for first. Making you a a loser.

  • physioprof says:

    Yeah, exactly. What I am trying to figure out is what Dave thinks the alternative was to him being second-listed co-first. Like if he didn't let himself be talked into it, then what would have happened? Maybe this was one of those situations where they talked him into doing a fuckeloade of experiments in exchange for second-listed co-first, and he now thinks he should have said: "first listed, or I'm not doing the experiments"?

  • dsks says:

    This thread can be summed up imho as:
    1) CPP is right
    2) Things might be better/fairer if he wasn't
    3) Because (1), a PI who takes the role of mentor and career advocate for her trainees has a responsibility to ensure that those trainees are given specific projects to lead in order to avoid the career-impacting ambiguity of the co-first authorship fustercluck.
    4) None of this changes until search committees cease to view first authorship as a necessary indication of a junior scientist's independence.

    Before embarking on a project in which, at best, one is going to share co-authorship, a junior scientist should consider how they will answer this question from a search committee: "So, why should we hire you instead of that other person?"

  • Dave says:

    I didn't fight hard enough for first, I am a loser. Simple as that.

    It was one of those ones where I had just moved to the US for a post-doc and it was the last paper from my experiments during my PhD. I was more focused on getting things up and running here (post doc was a mess) and a an ex-colleague approached me with one piece of additional data and offered to write the paper ASAP, for first authorship. I agreed as I thought it would be better to get it out sooner. But it was a human study, and I did everything else, so I should have negotiated a better deal. It was my study.

    I also thought at the beginning of my post-doc that I would be churning out major pubs in no time. I completely and utterly underestimated what it would take to change direction and get things up and running, essentially alone (again, post doc was a mess). My productivity on paper suffered as a result. It was a major mistake. I was naive, but I learned an incredible lesson. Now I'm a hard ass when it comes to authorship.

  • Dave says:

    I think the most important lesson I learned is that you wont get an opportunity to explain discrepancies in your biosketch/CV. Nobody cares.

    Sure, you can put an asterisk indicating co-authorship, but you can't explain the details. Nowhere can you explain the reason for gaps in publishing, legitimate or not. You wont get an opportunity to explain difficulties you might have had with your personal life, your health, or you career. As a post-doc looking to make it, all that matters is that one-dimensional piece of paper with your publications. It sucks, and it's often not fair, but recognizing this at the earliest opportunity just might make the difference between being a permadoc and an assistant professor.

  • physioprof says:

    And you certainly won't get an opportunity to explain that your former PI was totes comfortable with you falsifying the author order on your CV.

    This has to be one of the most delusional things I've ever read on this blogge:

    If one wanted to reorder, and someone contacted me about the appropriateness, I'd defend her. Easy as pie.

    And BTW, those of you reading this who think that DOucheMonkey is just the tip of the iceberg of a massive population of scientists who have no problem with people reordering co-first authors in their CVs, he's not. In fact, he doesn't even believe what he is saying about that, and is just trolling for lulz. The overwhelming consensus is that it is FALSIFICATION to alter the author order on your CV, regardless of any magical asterisks or whatever. There is ZERO possible upside to doing so, and MASSIVE possible downside.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    I'd be in favor of letting people reorder the author names, provided that they also embed a link to this comment thread in their CV.

  • drugmonkey says:

    In fact, he doesn't even believe what he is saying about that, and is just trolling for lulz.

    This is incorrect. I have a purpose and you know perfectly well what it is. You, being an exploitative defender of the system as it is, simply don't like that purpose. And are therefore motivated to pretend you don't understand it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    [and let us be clear, trolly pants, who brought this up in the first place]

  • jmz4gtu says:

    " As a post-doc looking to make it, all that matters is that one-dimensional piece of paper with your publications. It sucks, and it's often not fair, but recognizing this at the earliest opportunity just might make the difference between being a permadoc and an assistant professor."
    -Yeah, that was a bitter pill to swallow out of grad school.

  • physioprof says:

    Wait! How is it a bitter pill to swallow that your PUBLICATIONS "make the difference between being a permadoc and an assistant professor"????? First, that's exactly like a baseball pitcher saying, "it's a bitter pill to swallow that my ability to actually pitch makes the difference between making it to the majors or remaining a career minor leaguer". How can you complain that the standard for advancement in a profession relies in large part on the demonstrated ability to generate the product that such profession exists to manufacture????? Second, think about the alternatives: Does it make you happier to know that *some* post-docs get assistant professor positions because of who they trained with, and not because of their actual productivity???

  • UCProf says:

    Physioprof, academics are not in the business of manufacturing publications. We are in the business of advancing knowledge.

    Shallow thinking deans don't know how to evaluate knowledge, so they count publications as a proxy.

    Counting publications to measure your intellectual contribution makes as much sense as counting paintings to judge how good an artist is.

  • physioprof says:

    No one's talking about "counting" publications. We're talking about judging publications. And you are very confused if you think that academics are not in the business of manufacturing publications. Do you not think painters are in the business of manufacturing paintings, musicians in the business of manufacturing music? Academic knowledge only represents an advance when it is published. Otherwise it's just masturbation.

  • chemicalbilology says:

    Ehh, sure, we may be in the business of advancing knowledge, but trainees who don't have many publications on their CVs... unless they are in some field where one big giant paper takes the whole time and is considered "enough," it generally just looks like they did not get much work done* and/or did not figure out how to "close the deal,"** both of which are crucial skills to have in order to demonstrate independence and general usefulness ot the scientific enterprise. I can't think of any other useful way to measure a trainee's knowledge and productivity other than by how they have translated it into peer-reviewed narratives in the literature, which is where we share this stuff with each other.

    * and **: of course we all know that sometimes this is their PI's fault, so let's exclude trainees in that crappy situation for a minute and just consider the ones who have good, supportive PIs but don't get many publications out of their >5 years of graduate school or postdoc time.

  • Dave says:

    I actually had the thought that many people saw the new Biosketch format as an opportunity to actually explain away some of the gaps in their record. But I LOL'd, because that is clearly not its purpose.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "How is it a bitter pill to swallow that your PUBLICATIONS "make the difference between being a permadoc and an assistant professor"
    -No, I was referring more to the concepts that 1) bumping your name up author lists is often the deciding factor for jobs and more important than the actual science and 2) there's very little context on CVs. This is problematic given the highly variable authorship practices.

    I also took Dave's comments to mean that self-promotion and a certain kind of territorial viciousness are important habits to foster as early as possible, which is regrettable.

    I guess I was raised on the stories of everyone in the field knowing each other and being intimately familiar with the labs and stories being generated, so I figured there'd be some context in the review of the applicants. I was naive, I suppose, but I really didn't think it'd be admin staff and junior faculty winnowing hundreds of applications down to the 5 that have NCS papers.

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