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I work as a research scientist, and I am about to write up the work I've been doing for the past year. I have done all of the big data formatting, set up, edited and run a complex ecosystem model, wrote analysis code, calculated the statistics, produced graphs and map outputs. My manager wants me to pass the final graphs, maps and statistics to him so that he can write up the paper. I have sufficient post graduate research experience and analysis skills to analyse the final data myself and do the write up.

My manager has a good scientific overview of the work but doesn't have the technical skills to run the model or do any of the coding/ statistical work himself. I feel like he should encourage his staff to write up their own work, but he said he needs more papers as first author.

Do you have any suggestions for the points I can raise when I discuss with him that I'd like to be first author?

I want to stay on good terms with him as far as possible, while also asserting my belief that I should be first author. A former colleague done some of the base work for this project, and I think his name should also come before that of my manager's. My manager's supervision of the project has been minimal (a 5 minute rushed catch up conversation every month or so).

1 Answer 1

You'll learn from this experience. It's a good idea to discuss authorship at the outset of a project, and perhaps again throughout the process. Generally, the person who writes the paper receives first authorship, followed in order by amount of intellectual contribution, with the last author (in some disciplines) being the main PI/lab head. If your superior now insists he/she must write the paper, he/she is probably entitled first authorship. If you can't come to an agreement, you might ask that it be noted that 'the first two authors contributed equally'. That is somewhat common.