Talking about Authorship

As a Ph.D. student, a huge part of your job is working towards publications. This can be both an exciting and overwhelming process. One of the most difficult parts is having conversations about authorship.

These conversations usually center around deciding who will be first-author, the order of the additional authors, and who should be included in the author list and in the acknowledgements. Since so many students rely on publications to get into graduate school, secure post-docs, and finally get faculty positions, these conversations can sometimes get awkward. So, here's my best tips for successful authorship conversations.

It's important to have these conversations early in the project. You want to decide who will be first-author or if you will be doing a split first-authorship. Decide what each authors role will be on the project. What will they be expected to do in exchange for being included in the authors list. Then, take time to consider whether or not there are any additional people who should be credited in the authors list and/or acknowledgements. Finally, be aware that life changes things! Sometimes we agree to projects and end up doing way less work than we expected! Or, we end up doing more work than we initially thought. So, it's also important to revisit the conversation if any party feels like they are being unfairly represented.

How do you start conversations about authorship in your field?

Until next time...


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