Video clip: Jane says that it is important to think about authorship early in a project. She also thinks that senior researchers should give more junior colleagues a chance to be last author.
If you’re working with other people in other institutions, is it getting more difficult to decide about authorship, who should be on the paper?
Yes, definitely and there’s more and more, I mean I was, I was, early in my career, I collaborated, I collided with somebody working in another lab. A post doc in my lab collided on a research field with somebody working in a, in a more senior person’s lab in the U.S. And when it came to publishing that, it was easy to work out the post docs because they effectively went joint first author. And the guy who was the PI in the, the senior PI in the American lab, I’ll never forget this and I’ve always done the same since, said, ‘You can go last author. You don’t yet have tenure. I do.’ And I went last author. And I’ve done that ever since; when I got tenure I did the same with junior PIs if we ever got into the same situation, ‘You can go last author. I don’t need it.’ I think there needs to be a bit more of that.
I think there’s still too many young PIs, fighting hard to try and get those senior author positions that are really important for their careers and not being allowed to get it.
So, in your field, the first and last author’s still seen as the most important are they?
Mm. It’s very generous of you to help others.
I think it’s important, helping, I don’t like seeing people climb the ladder and then pull it up behind them.
Mm. Because of this authorship business, is it making it sometimes difficult to work collaboratively with other people?
It’s one of the things that has to be talked about very early in the project. I think, I think I’m always one for trying to get expectations on both sides sorted early on in any sort of collaboration, and I think if you can do that it makes it slightly easier when it comes to actually writing up. But there are certainly some people that will run over other people in trying to get the best position on the paper.