Co-first and CV from R Schekman

Apr 03 2016 Published by under Experimental Biology

20 responses so far

  • dnadrinker says:

    I chair the official CV rules committee. I declare it shall now be allowed.

  • MorganPhD says:

    I'm going to have all of my grad students be involved in every paper from the lab, list all 4 of them as co-co-co-co-first authors. /s

    And I'm going to make sure all of my BSD colleagues are given courtesy placement on the paper before my name, but after the peons doing the work, even if they only sent a plasmid to me. /s

    IMO, authorship conventions right now are a joke. We should just pull a physics and astronomy and list anyone who has ever breathed on a project in alphabetical order on the paper.

  • MorganPhD says:

    My personal examples:
    Paper I did 45% of the work and I am second author.
    Paper I did 25% of the work and I am co-first author.
    Paper I did 10% of the work and I am co-first author.

    How about the paper with the grad student first author where s/he only did 1 experiment but "needed to graduate"? Or the BSD PI who demands authorship for their "intellectual contribution" of a plasmid in their freezer from 1998.

    And then we allow things like "oh, s/he's a tech and didn't intellectually contribute". Or undergrads don't count because it's just a mini-prep/western blot/mouse husbandry/whatever.

    Hot garbage.

  • Rheophile says:

    Sigh. One of those good-in-principle ideas (equal work -> equal reward) that would probably have horrible consequences. Even more incentive for giant glam papers when each one can be "claimed" by multiple people.

    Maybe it would be OK if evaluators would understand that being one of three co-firsts is genuinely 1/3 the credit of being a sole first... but then you have to start chasing down people who omit the asterisks on their CVs.

  • dr24 says:

    I reiterate that there's a tech solution to this. PDFs should be set to display co-firsts in random order, etc. Each list first on CV.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And for citation of record? In another paper?

  • boehninglab says:

    Hiring committees strongly disagree with Schekman. Do this at your own risk.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Are we all amused* at the way these luminaries eventually get around to issues that the science-Internet has been discussing for almost a decade?

  • mH says:

    Even the first class cabins eventually start to get wet when the ship is in trouble.

  • jmz4 says:

    The problem with co-first is that too many labs use it too many ways. A major one is to resolve politics for Glam Journals. Another is to indicate legitimate 50/50 contribution. Still another is to satisfy degree/job market requirements. And a final is to equally recognize intellectual and manual contributions to the paper, and satisfy egos on both ends of that contentious dispute.

    These arrangements are all lubricated by telling the first-first author sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly, that only the first-first author counts, while the opposite is told to the other co-authors. This allows everyone to save face and walk away feeling good about themselves.

    If we could somehow enforce this standard, and change it to apply only to those rare cases of 50:50 effort splits, you would drastically decrease the number of co-first authored papers, and dramatically increase the number of people murdered with a pipette.

  • dr24 says:

    "And for citation of record? In another paper?"

    Easy enough for the computers to tell it's the same paper these days, regardless of author order. Up to person citing, and use the doi.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    My thoughts as a sometimes member of search committees. If you have a co-1st author (only one other "1st"), I mentally count that as about 1/2 a 1st-authorship. In the rare cases where there are 3 co-1sts, that would be about 1/3. Incidentally, that's probably close to my mental estimate for a second authorship. I don't care whose name is listed 1st.

    If you change the order of the names, that's a big knock. If you do not denote that the paper is co-1st, that's an even bigger knock.

  • jmz4 says:

    Hmm, I didn't realize people actually did that. I'd be getting screwed by your standards, since I did about 80% of the work (and 100% of the writing) on both of my co-first authored papers. Both times my co-first authors were put on the project because their own had fizzled out and they needed a paper for graduation or to apply for industry jobs. I was told that no one cares, and second co-forst is more like an elevated second authorship. Also I didn't want to get in fights over authorship with a person I have to work with.

  • DJMH says:

    @jmz4, You should ask your advisor to be explicit about the contribution of work in his/her letter of recommendation for anything you apply for.

  • The Other Dave says:

    I remember having this discussion years ago here on DM's blog. I thought it was OK to switch the order. Everyone (including DM) blasted me for that. The consensus was definitely against it. Are times changing?

  • The Other Dave says:

    "Both times my co-first authors were put on the project because their own had fizzled out and they needed a paper for graduation or to apply for industry jobs. "

    Someone lied to you. Or those co-authors. You got shafted. And authorship should not be assigned based on "need" anyway. You had a sucky PI.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    @jmz4, yes, you were indeed screwed out of two 1st author papers. When the paper says "both authors contributed equally," I take it at face value. In your case, it's best to have your advisor explain in their letters your contributions to each paper. I would never hold it against someone for getting screwed by their advisor.

  • drugmonkey says:

    TOD - I doubt I was the one that blasted you, more likely it was PP.

  • The Other Dave says:

    You're right, DM. It was from back when Physioprof wrote some of your blog posts. Dec 23 2008: "Altering Listed Order Of Co-First Authors On CV: Totally Cool Or Falsification?" He was responding to me saying somewhere else that I thought this practice was totally OK. You can see how I responded back then, when I was just "Dave". Then came the new Dave, after which I became "The Other Dave". See, I have been reading your blog a long time!

    Kudos to this blog's search box!

  • Pinko Punko says:

    DM- I prefer "CPP" for abbreviations of PP names, for obvious reasons.

    I don't change order, and I try to have my CV keep track of all corresponding authors, and various "co" that are annotated on the papers of record, regardless of whether I am the author or not. Try to be as consistent as possible.

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