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Aug 09

No. 40: Co-author credit after verbal agreement was ignored

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Co-author credit after verbal agreement was ignored

Reader Question: Two years ago, I agreed in a conversation with a researcher at another university that I would analyze the composition of some new compounds he created in return for being listed as a co-author of the scientific paper we expected would result. I sent him the results over a year ago, but have heard nothing since, despite my reminders. I was therefore shocked to see in the latest issue of our field’s journal that he has published the paper, including the analysis I made, but I'm not included as co-author nor even mentioned in the acknowledgments. I feel that my team and me deserve formal recognition for our work, as it will help justify the grant money we've spent. Do I have any legal redress? How should I proceed?

Expert comments: This question raises the issue typically referred to as the right of attribution or (more often outside the United States) “moral rights.”

There is no good avenue for legal redress on a national, or federal, level in the United States for this situation. At the U.S. federal level, moral rights were recently provided in the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which is part of the U.S. Copyright Law, 17 USC § 106A. The VARA grants rights of attribution and integrity to an author. These rights, however, are limited to works of “visual art,” defined as not including "any book, magazine, newspaper, periodical, database, electronic information service, electronic publication or similar publication” (17 USC § 101). Thus VARA does not cover this situation involving the publication of a technical or scientific paper.

Attempts have been made to enforce a right of attribution (co-authorship) under the U.S. Trademark Act (referred to as the “Lanham Act”) on the theory that use of a work without providing attribution or acknowledging authorship constitutes a false “passing off” or a “misappropriation” of the work as one’s own work in violation of the Lanham Act.

In June 2003, however, the Supreme Court interpreted the Lanham Act to deny false-attribution claims as to the origin of a “communicative product.” (Datastar v. Twentieth Century Fox, 123 S.Ct. 2041, 2003).

Attempts also have been made to claim a right of attribution through the laws of defamation, the rights of privacy and publicity, and a common-law doctrine of misappropriation, all generally without success.

If the chemical analysis you describe involve more than simply obtaining and presenting data obtained through running a scientific apparatus, and included commentary and evaluation of the data presented in word form, a claim might be made instead to copyright infringement for unauthorized use of such a write-up.

It is not clear, however, that the use by the fellow researcher of such a write-up would be “unauthorized” when it was provided to the fellow researcher with the understanding that it would be incorporated into the anticipated paper. Further, even if copyright infringement could be shown, the relief that could be obtained would be directed to monetary damages and/or an injunction against future reproduction and use of the write-up. Such remedies would not address the claim of attribution or correcting authorship.

Outside the United States, legal redress for a violation of a right of attribution or moral rights may be obtainable in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

There is another problem concerning this scenario. It may be questionable that, as a practical matter, you should be identified either as co-author or named in the acknowledgments. Questions have been raised in scientific communities concerning the number of authors on papers and who truly qualifies as an author. There appear to be no definitive guidelines for determining whether someone should be listed as an author on a scientific paper.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has stated that:

“Authorship credits should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design [of the project], or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3, is the ICMJE’s present definition (www.icmje.org).” (emphasis added).

See, EMBO Reports, “Who Did What?,” Vol. 5, No. 5, page 446 (2004).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its Guidelines for the Conduct of Research in the Intramural Research Program states that “individuals who have assisted in the research by their encouragement and advice or providing space, financial support, reagents, occasional analyses, or patient materials should be acknowledged in the text, but not be authors.”

Someone providing a bench, microscope, or who donated part of their funds toward the research of others might not automatically be granted co-authorship under such NIH guidelines. Under the scenario presented in your question, an argument can be made that the work involving analyzing the composition of some new compounds created by the fellow researcher does not meet these standards or guidelines for authorship credit.

You state that the agreement with the fellow researcher was made in a conversation, as opposed to writing. It would have been better if this agreement had been reduced to writing, even if in the form of an e-mail, including acceptance by the fellow researcher of the terms that you be included as a co-author in the published paper. Then a written contract could be shown to exist. The failure to name you as co-author might then be shown to be a breach of that written contract. A remedy that is obtainable for breach of a contract is specific performance of the terms and obligations of the contract, which in this case might include being named as a co-author.

But even if a legal remedy were available, as a practical matter it may not be the best remedy. In this case, you might instead consider having your lab director or department head contact the lab director or department head at the fellow researcher’s university to discuss the question in a quiet and friendly manner.

Comments by Todd Deveau, JD, partner, Thomas Kayden Horstemeyer & Risley, LLP, an intellectual property law firm in Atlanta.

Comments (35)
Professor of Medicine, Emory University
written by David Harrison, August 02, 2010
If true, this is an egregious infringement of research ethics. If the other investigator indeed published data that you obtained without acknowledging you as a source, this is equivalent to claiming that he/she was the source of the data, which is fraud. If you really have proof that things occurred as you indicate, you should contact the Dean of his/her medical school, and notify the journal. This could result in withdrawal of the paper, an internal ethics investigation and perhaps sanctions from the NIH or other funding agencies.
Biomedical Researcher, forced out after discovering that the boss was fabricating data.
written by Unemployed, August 09, 2010
David Harriston seems to be a couple of decades behind reality. 20% of all biomedical papers fail to list all people who honestly contribute. Often it is someone who does a lot of the actual experiments (planning, experimental work, data analysis). Maybe this is done to make room for all the guest authors that need a share of the cake. Unless you are more senior than the person who stole from you, there is not a snowball's chance that you can do anything about it. Welcome to the new world of science, where ethics is a dirty word.
Professor of Immunobiology, University of Arizona
written by Jeff Frelinger, August 09, 2010
Never scribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity. The old saw is always right. I know that in my lab a postdoc wrote a paper without adding as an author someone who provided a critical mouse strain before she arrived. I caught it in preparation, but if I too had forgotten the other author would have been left off. Perhaps a query to the senior author before lawyers and Deans are involved would not be amiss.

Research professor of Pharmacognosy, University of Panama
written by Mahabir Gupta, August 09, 2010
I think the attitude of the scientist who published the paper without acknowledging the work by another colleague shows a dishonest and unethical behavior. I think the affected part should address the issue to the Journal Editor indicating that the work reported has not ben done by the author and provide proof of your communication to him when you sent the results.
Chief, Lymphoma Service MSKCC
written by Andrew Zelenetz, August 09, 2010
Though there may be no legal redress you can can write to the journal. I would send a certified letter detailing your grievance to the manuscript author with a request that an erratum be published in the journal with the correct authors. If that is refused, I would write the editor of the journal about your situation, provide the data to substantiate you claim, and ask the editor to issue an erratum with you as an author or withdraw the manuscript (not necessarily what you want if the data is correct). I would send a copy of this second letter to the chairman of the author's department.
Professor and associate dean of academic affairs
written by Phalguni Gupta, August 09, 2010
If he can prove that his analysis has been included in the paper with proper acknowledgement, it calls for notification to proper school authority, Editor of the Journal and NIH, if necessary.
Professor of Journalism
written by Michael E. Abrams, August 09, 2010
I teach a communication law course and have also been in a situation where a work of mine was taken and the gist and original ideas used without credit. I could not mask my irritation and wrote the author, who claimed the publisher had through error left off his note of attribution. He said he would send a letter to be published in the next edition of the journal. I think the laws are loose in this area, as ideas do not fall under copyright law, but in the academy the recognition of work of others is essential to scholarship. In cases where authorship is denied a contributor, it is useful to remember that what is legal may not always be moral. Sometimes this is a matter of error or misunderstanding.
Not a fan of strictly legal interpretations...
written by Patric Lundberg, August 09, 2010
Trying to impose law on the unethical is a losing battle. Your verbal account of what the individual did with your analysis at meetings in your field will have a long-lasting effects on what the author who took your data can do in terms of future collaborations. Make sure you don't exxagerate though, as people who lack ethical backbones tend to be the first to scream "slander"...

In terms of contacting the Journal - may or may not work. My experience is that journal editors do all they can to avoid having to retract or comment on their own publications. Believe me, we tried, but until the original author did what we asked the journal to do, nothing came of it. The journal cares more about image that ethical behavior, no matter what their policy states.

By all means, email that lead author and tell him/her that you want an answer by X date. If you do not get a response, email the Dept. Chair, then the Journal Editor etc etc. See what happens.
Assistant Professor, Duke
written by Harrison Jones, August 09, 2010
If this is the complete story, there are many courses of action outside the legal arena (which in most cases is probably of much less consequence than the academic effects of such actions). Consultation with your Chairman/supervisor, peers, the author of the published manuscript, the journal editor, and even the funding agency may all be appropriate to resolve this. This matter should be pursued vigorously if this is indeed the whole story.
Associate Dean for Research
written by Anonymous, August 09, 2010
You first need to have evidence that an agreement existed to be able to have any form of a grievance. Email, letters etc. will suffice, but your word saying you had an oral agreement against his/her saying you did not would be a challenge for you to be successful with the journal or his/her department chair, dean and university. I would first contact the author by email, then certified letter if he/she does not respond to see if a simple mistake was made. If you are not satisfied, the next step, again providing you have evidence, is to contact the journal with your grievance. That is the only real recourse you seem to have. I would also add that a case can be made that you did not qualify for authorship based on The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors which most biomedical journals use as a guideline and is very well accepted in the Academy, but did qualify for acknowledgement.
Agree w Emory Prof. + also expereinced fraud
written by Faculty in MD, August 09, 2010
I agree with the above comment from Emory University.
See what evidence you have (must be some emails) and fedex receipts, notify the dean of reserach integrity and journal editor.
As postdoc I have seen a senior collaborator/PI "adjusting" data. Recently I was booted of a PhD committee after questioning some of the data that were not supportive of the PI's hypothesis.
Even when things are in writing, emails, even MTA's, some people will ignore it and take the credit for themselves. So much for research integrity.
Associate Professor
written by Henry Higgins, August 09, 2010
This is fraud, and the paper should be retracted. The Reader's Question clearly stated that his analysiss is included in the paper, but he is not cited as a co-author. My first response would be to demand an explanation from the corresponding author (he should have a short time to respond). If you are not happy with the result, you should write to the editor (I would demand a retraction) and to the department chair of the corresponding author's institution. Everything depends on how the corresponding author responds/cooperates and if you are happy with the outcome. Ultimately, the case can be reported to the Office of Research Intergrity (http://ori.dhhs.gov/). A guilty finding will have serious consequences for the corresponding author.
Associate Prof
written by Prime investigator, August 09, 2010
Do you know the data that appeared was actually the exact data you provided--- do you know they didn't have another collaborator who provided data that was "better" and they went with that? Not a good thing either, but slightly less egregious that what you described.
If so, you should send the "collaborator" an e-mail, followed up with a formal letter, attaching copies of the communication that set up the initial collaboration, along with proof that the data originated in your lab (i.e., raw data, etc.). Both the e-mail and the letter should be cc'd to the person's chairman, Dean, and the journal in which it appeared. It is also worth considering notifying any grant agency involved. This is inexcusable-- even if it was just an oversight..... your data has been effectively stolen, and your own record of productivity decreased. An erratum correction will not do anything other than have your name associated with an erratum-- your name will not be on the published article.
These incidents need a hammer blow, not a gentle kick--- there are too many honest, hard-working folks competing for limited funds and no good reason to not weed out the others.
written by Observer, August 09, 2010
My advice would be to simply call the collaborator and ask for an explanation of why your data is included in his/her manuscript without you appearing as an author as previously agreed. Most likely the collaborator will feel embarrassed and correct the situation (i.e. submit an erratum to the journal). It's also possible that there has been a mistake in his/her or your understanding of what the verbal agreement was but I doubt someone of reasonable intelligence would make such a mistake in routine matters in science. It's also possible that the data used in the paper is not the exact same data you submitted, i.e someone else had to redo the work and had priority in authorship if it was performed with better instrumentation or done better overall. Most likely the simple explanation is that the collaborator was too busy and simply overlooked your inclusion as an author. This can easily happen...I have failed to acknowledge technicians who may have in the past made a construct and not acknowledged for their work (although authorship of paper is not as trivial as that). I have sometimes been reminded by the first author to include another member of the lab as an author because of valuable contributions...it is very easy for a busy PI to forget or not even be aware on the level of work performed by different lab members but this can all be corrected if an honest mistake has been made which is what I suspect happened here. That's why I'm recommending just pick up the phone and make a call.

Written agreements for these sorts of things rarely exist as these collaborations are performed in good faith. If you ask a potential future collaborator for a contract sort of letter or e-mail, it just sends the wrong signals from the beginning.

If the omission was genuinely intentional, then you simply have to decide whether to chalk it up to experience or "get revenge" by calling the department chair etc. but your own name would be co authored through that mud too so it may not be worth it. You are always free to tell your other scientific colleagues for what you think of him/her as a collaborator as long as you speak the absolute truth.
Professor of Medicne
written by Maria G Castro, August 09, 2010
I had a similar situation and the way I dealt with it is as follows:
I wrote to the journal editor explaining the situation and sending him proof of my contribution to the paper. The editor withdrew the manuscript and in agreement with the senior aurthor, he included my mane as co-author.
Good luck
Professor Emeritus
written by Anonymous, August 09, 2010
I have been omitted from three publications in the past. In two of the three cases, the omission was an oversight. I would therefore agree that the initial contact should not assume malicious intent to exclude the author. In one of the two cases of unintentional omission, this error was identified while the publication was in press, so the author byline on the final publication was corrected. In the second case, an erratum was published after publication of the original article--this proved to be helpful because the PubMed entry was revised to include my name as a coauthor; in addition, the erratum was cited in the PubMed entry for the original article. If there is malicious intent to exclude a coauthor, agree with aggressively pursuing the avenues of contacting the journal and department/dean. In the third case of deliberate omission that I experienced, I chose not to pursue a confrontational approach because I could not avoid continued contact with the other author, although I did as much as I could to distance myself from further collaborations with that investigator.
Professor of Ophthalmology
written by Douglas R. Anderson, August 09, 2010
If all events are accurately portrayed by your question, there is a problem with attribution. Having served on several editorial boards, there are some questions to ask about what constitutes co-authorship. In many of the journals with which I am familiar, it it expected that all of the named co-authors were in on the original planning of the study, had all data available to them so that they had opportunity to validate the analysis and conclusions, and that they saw (and signed off on) the final manuscript, etc. Authorship is not only attribution, but also responsibility that the data and analysis are genuine and unbiased, etc., at least the part of the experiment in which you were involved if it was a true collaborative effort requiring background and resources of individuals from different areas of science. Sometimes you can't attest to the integrity of parts of the study outside your are of expertise, and that's OK, although it would be nice if somehow the readers can know the role that each person played (to get credit, and also to be held responsible for his portion of the work).

None-the-less, if the agreement was that you would be a participating author, then the leader of the project in essence takes the responsibility to keep you in the loop about the project as a whole, and provide you with a final manuscript for your approval (you don't want your name on a paper if you don't agree with how the data were interpreted and with the conclusions drawn). Failing that degree of involvement, because your contribution was a small proportion of the total effort, then in my view it should at least be mentioned in the materials and methods section or in the acknowledgements that the chemical characterization was kindly done by the collaborative effort of Dr. XYZ. Moreover, if the work was done in your lab supported by a grant, the title page should state that the work was supported in part by A, B, and grant R01-XXX awarded by NNN to Dr. XYZ.

So, one way or another, your participation was not recognized. You were not given credit. The authors lost the opportunity to have faith in the quality of that chemical characterization by knowing who did it, etc.

Now, what to do? Well, first, it seems to me a phone call or e-mail message to your colleague might be in order to find out what happened to the agreement that your participation would be acknowledged through co-authorship, or if the participation in the much larger project was not large enough for co-authorship, why you were not at least acknowledged. If he recognizes an error on his part, howefully inadvertent, then discuss how to resolve the issue. Perhaps there will be soon a follow-up with further analysis of the same data, and you can be included as co-author with recognition in the materials and methods that you had performed the characterization of the molecules as reported previusly (reference), and now further analysis of the data is being presented.

On the other hand, if his attitude is defensive and unfreindly, you can write a letter to his chairman. You can also write a letter to the editor (for publication) in which you state that while not mentioned, it was you who characterized the compounds and there is a slight error in the report with regard to the raw data, or in the way it was integrated with the other data, or in the way it was interpreted, etc. Such a letter to the editor might usually be published, especiallly if the conclusions are affected, along with a public answer by the authors of the original paper. Your letter is a citable publication, and gives reference to the origianl paper so scholars following the subject can find it with the knowledge that you contributed. The forgetful author will have the opportunity to write a reply that you won't see until it is published, so don't put anything in your letter that is open to criticism of not understanding the main points of the original work, etc.

Otherwise, getting into accusations of intentional fraud, etc., will just get mud on everyone. It would be better to move on. I have heard scientists who have had their ideas or even data stolen say, if X needs my ideas to write a paper, fine. I have plenty more he is not capable of coming up with.
Professor of Urology
written by Robert E. Hurst, August 09, 2010
I agree with everyone who says the first thing to do is to contact the senior author. I would advise both a phone call and an email, the latter serving as a record. If you do not receive satisfaction, then I urge you to pursue the matter vigorously and contact the editor, the other investigator's chair, your chair, and whoever supported the research. When contacting the editor, you can state that you may not be able to vouch for the scientific validity of the data in the paper because you were not consulted. All this presumes that you have evidence that you sent the data to the author. It is important to weed out those who lack ethics. Science requires a high level of trust, and I would not trust anything that a person with such poor ethics would publish. Also, assuming you can prove what you say, contacting other investigators in your field could ruin the other person's scientific reputation. Truth is a perfect defense against libel, but your announcement should be very carefully worded to state facts that can be demonstrated.
Assoc. Prof., U of Lisbon
written by Philip Gerrish, August 09, 2010
No action is required. Such people dig their own graves. Eventually, they will have no friends, and that ain't good in science. Friends are very important in science despite the common notion that science is cold and rational.
Professor of Reproductive Biology in Obstetrics & Gynecology, washington University-St. Louis
written by Frederick Sweet, August 09, 2010
Here's a quote from the NIH Office of Research Integrity's Web site:

"As a general working definition, ORI considers plagiarism to include both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work. It does not include authorship or credit disputes.

The theft or misappropriation of intellectual property includes the unauthorized use of ideas or unique methods obtained by a privileged communication, such as a grant or manuscript review.

Substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work means the unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the contributions of the author(s)."


I imagine the NSF and other agencies handling Federal funds subscribe to similar principles.

If I were the offended author, I'd begin by contacting the ORI which will be happy to point him/them in the right direction for blowing the whistle on the perpetrators.

Stealing data and interpretation of the data is a form of plagiarism. It is certainly scientifiic misconduct.

Sticking one's scientific head in the sand is not always the best approach to dealing with misconduct. How on earth can the standards be enforced if everyone turns away from trying to improve the scientific community?
Assistant professor at prestigous tier one
written by Anonymous, August 09, 2010
When this happened to me, I first called the paper author and asked why my authorship had been omitted when she had promised it. I think it is only fair to give the author that opportunity and sometimes it may save us from the embarrassment of jumping to conclusions. When she waffled and said she 'forgot', I let her know that I was very disappointed in her behavior, since I valued my colleagues at their word, and her omission was disapointing. I then wrote her an email stating the same and cc'd her department head. I then wrote to the Journal Editor. Within a few weeks I had a written apology from the author and an erratum in the journal listing my authorship.

This may not have completely resolved the problem that had occurred but I bet the colleague never 'forgets' again. BTW, I have seen her at conferences since and always treat her kindly. It is important to let the past rest and move on.
Former Department Chair
written by Dr. Fred, August 09, 2010
"Two years ago, I agreed in a conversation with a researcher at another university that I would analyze the composition of some new compounds he created... I feel that my team and me deserve formal recognition for our work". What was the actual contribution--was it simply an elemental combustion analysis or spectroscopic analysis of several new compounds? Who did the work--was it you personally or members of your team? First, complain to the author. If it was simply an elemental or spectroscopic analysis you could ask the author to publish an erratum indicating that credit was inadvertantly omitted and chalk it up to "a lesson learned". If it was more than that, I would complain to the Journal editor. Unfortunately, these situations arise often. Sometimes entire publications are ignored, sometimes a single author is given credit for the work of a whole team. It is a regrettable feature of the real world.
Head of Research, CTO
written by D.S., August 10, 2010
Two points of view:
1)cultural/legal view: in Europe (in particular in Germany) a spoken word has the same power as the written word: giving a promise of beeing mentioned/authorship but not doing so later is a false statement which can be punished by law (criminal law: 3 months up to 5 years); but this "cultural agreement" might depent on the cultural/country background which is different in other countries;
2) moral view: those "co-workers" will isolate themself, as science is "self-sufficient" but needs communication of scientits - and in long time view nobody will work with those "co-workers" nore they will be funded and journals will refuse those authors in future (if the journal editors got the relevant information); it's like expressing sientific misconduct to the "co-worker", which will be proofed.
But incependend of these aspects, the deceived person has to give evidence of the facts and should be "strong" for incoming attacts form other sides, otherwise nothing will happen.
Associate Chief of Staff for Research, Phoenix VA Health Care System
written by Samuel M. Aguayo, MD, August 10, 2010
Ethical, legal, and moral judgements aside, the collaborative process described above must have been documented with a protocol and material transfer agreement that should have been reviewed and approved by the research oversight committees at both institutions BEFORE the research was conducted and submitted for publication. If that did not happen then the ethical and moral infractions may have been facilitated by the overall lack of compliance. Perhaps it is time to have the publication reference and have this matter reviewed by a competent research compliance officer. Plenty of lessons to be learned.
Remember Watson and Crick?
written by Paul Chuba, August 10, 2010
Remeber that Watson and Crick investigated diffraction analyses of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), done by Maurice Wilkins. DNA was already then considered to be the substance of which genes were made.

Watson and Crick used Wilkins's data, part of which came from coworker Rosalind Franklin, to create a three-dimensional model of the DNA molecule. The model included known facts, such as the chemical constituents (nitrogen bases, sugar, and phosphate), and took into account data from Wilkins's X-ray diffraction experiments.

Watson and Crick continued
written by Paul Chuba, August 10, 2010
I did not remember seeing Wilkin's or Franklin's name on the paper or the Nobel prize
TAke it up with the journal and the author's university
written by [email protected], August 10, 2010
Same thing happened to me years ago. I contacted the Provost directly and asked for an investigation. It was promptly dispatched to other faculty and administrators who sided with me after seeing all my dated notes and other proof I had contributed.

I also threated to contact the journal and cause trouble with plagiarism. Some journals will ban individuals or entire universities from publishing for a period of years if plagiarism is stablished.
Re: Watson Crick
written by Dr. Fred, August 10, 2010
In 1962 James Watson (b. 1928), Francis Crick (1916–2004), and Maurice Wilkins (1916–2004) jointly received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their 1953 determination of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Because the Nobel Prize can be awarded only to the living, Wilkins’s colleague Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958), who died of cancer at the age of 37, could not be honored.
written by anon- Louisiana, August 10, 2010
The "guidelines for authorship" outlined above do not include "because I was promised" as a criteria. Journals, the NIH, institutions, etc. are becoming more and more critical of the justifications for all included authors. In my mind, it has not been clearly established that this investigator has earned authorship according to the guidelines above. One wonders, since the collaboration was initiated "two years ago" and the data was sent "over one year ago", if the authors of the paper had already obtained the data from a different collaborator who was able to perform the analysis in a faster time frame. This scenario does not absolve the authors from all wrong-doing, as it seems a professional courtesy call to the offended collaborator could have prevented unnecessary analysis, time and expense. This is just one possible scenario explaining the behavior of the authors. The bottom line is, until a direct inquiry is made with the corresponding author of the paper, every scenario (both legitimate and illegitimate) is pure speculation. Your best move is to first obtain an explanation from the authors of the paper. To involve authorities at the institutions, the NIH, and/or the journal without clear evidence of misconduct can be detrimental to your own career as much as your collaborator.
Professor of Chemistry
written by Allen Hunter, August 17, 2010
As others have noted, this happens very often and from a "legal" perspective (layers) as well as in practice it is a mess. However, the morals and practical redress side are clearer. The best practical redress is to contact the program officer at NSF, NIH, DOE, etc., who funded the work if the "submitting" author doesn't cooperate. These agencies are very very clear about ethics and research and will be very strong advocates for redress. Since research funded under a grant is via a federal agreement, there is a strong lever here. In fact, a pattern would likely get the "submitter" formally sanctioned or debarred by NSF (and if the university didn't support it could in principal get the whole school debarred), etc., which would be a very strong penalty (after the multi-step inspector general's (e.g., for NSF) proceedure if needed)....
Professor of Neurosurgery, University of South Florida
written by Denis English, Ph.D., August 23, 2010
I agree legally and scientifically with Dr. Harrison. The statute of frauds requires contracts to be reduced to writing under some circumstances; this is not one of them and a contract reduced to writing is not necessary for redress unless that contract falls under the auspices of the statute of frauds. This does not. THe oral conract is biunding in all states and you have redress in State court for recouperation of your losses by denial of authorship agreed upon in this oral contract.
written by who cares, September 20, 2010
who cares about any laws. they come and go, are man made and designed to suite whoever is in rule. bottom line. you should visit the the fucking parasite that sponged your data for thier benefit and smash in their fucking head, when no one is around. then shit in their mouth. that will make you feel muchy better.
written by Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, September 28, 2010
I underwent a similar situation during my postdoc at the University of Toronto. I gave a scaffold made of a material that was part of my project to a PhD student to perform an assay that could have not been done with her scaffold due to mechanical constraints; mine was stiffer. The scaffold was used as a proof of concept and the paper was published in PNAS. My stuff was included in the revised version. In other words, my work was demanded to improve (substantially) the version and have the manuscript accepted. I was not even included in the acknowledgements. Absolutely ignored. On purpose. She just included my reference. From the current article, it seems that she reproduced my technique and this is totally false. I sent a diplomatic email to my supervisor and decided to give up to his apologies. I needed his recommendation more than anything else. The proze for her: she is now assistant professor at the UofT. I agree: (1) Everything needs to be written and (2) I believe the person who is responsible for that is the main investigator. He should teach his students an ethical behavior.
NIH and false attribution
written by Anonymously yours, November 30, 2010
"Welcome to the new world of science, where ethics is a dirty word." Completely agree with "Biomedical Researcher forced out...". Existing power disparities between graduate students and their mentors, junior vs. senior faculty and the cutthroat competition in the world of science with its public image vastly at odds with reality, provide a perfect recipe for abuse. Now here are some differences in my situation: The Head of Department falsely claims in his RO1 grant submission with my supervisor as his co-investigator that a particular marrow transplant strategy (experiments originally designed and performed by me) was initiated by my supervisor. Having gone through similar past experiences in which my data were used to submit grant applications without my knowledge or input, I withheld data for 4 months before sharing them in the lab meeting naively thinking that with such time in my favor, my supervisor would think twice before claiming credit where it was not due. It still happened. "Fortunately" the RO1 in this transplant study jointly submitted by the two of us (my supervisor as principal co-PI) was triaged, the main reason I suspect being that it went to a less relevant study section. Do I have any recourse, legal moral or otherwise? Now here the data is all in my possession with dates that my supervisor will find it impossible to match.
Course of action
written by George A. Lozano, February 10, 2011
Contacting the main author might be be a necessary but likely pointless first step. Whatever, he/she says, there might still be a transgression. However, is there really a problem? Carrying out some standard analyzes that could easily be carried out by a technician at a commercial lab ought not be sufficient grounds for authorship. The tech ought to be paid AND acknowledged, but that is all. Now, if the tech develops new analytical techniques specifically for this project, it might be different. Actually, even in that case, the tech ought to just write a separate paper describing the technique, but still deserves no authorship in the other paper.

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