4

I am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Computer Science which requires me to have three members on my graduate committee.

Last August one of the committee members asked me to work on a project for him as part of my graduate work. However, the work was not enough for a thesis, I would need to switch from thesis-track to project-track, which I am not interested in doing, and the topic wasn't what I would like to work on full-time for my research.

My major professor suggested I work on the project for a shot at getting a publication under my belt for the work I will have done. Because of this I accepted the proposal and put a ton of time into the project on top of my research and course load. Recently, the research was funded and a poster was made to present the research. Lo and behold, I was not listed as an author on the poster with the professors despite my countless hours slaving away.

There have been no publications yet, so I don't know if I will be listed as an author on the actual paper but, being new to this, I would like to be sure I'm not being taken advantage of. I've got enough things to take care of outside of the project and was expecting some sort of payoff if the research had gotten this far.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the opportunity. I'm still assisting with the research and would like to continue to assist the professor with hopes of at least getting a good letter of recommendation for a PhD program but, if the general opinion is I'm being taken advantage of I would like to know to perhaps confront the faculty member.

  • Can you give more details about what kind of work you did on the project? That's clearly relevant. – Faheem Mitha May 15 '18 at 6:46
  • Sure. As I said in my comment below, I excluded the details due to the length of the question. The research field would be best described as Data Science, we're looking at a potential improvement to a popular algorithm. As such the algorithm needed to be re-implemented with the improvement in place. I've done all of the work creating the software implementation of the research. My most recent task is to use my software on certain datasets to help get data for a conference paper to be submitted over the summer. – TheRealKernel May 15 '18 at 14:44
  • Thank you for the further information, @TheRealKernel. It sounds like you definitely should be credited. Both implementation and application is a ton of work. Did anyone else work on either? And the people getting the credit did what? – Faheem Mitha May 15 '18 at 15:22
  • It's hard to say what everyone's responsibilities have been behind the scenes. There was a prototype implemented that lacked necessary features but gave a crude demonstration of what the research's intentions were. I don't doubt the PI and other investigators have done their fair share of work but the full implementation of the algorithm was built from scratch by me. As for application, there's been only some application for the sake of prototyping and the real testing of the algorithm is just starting. – TheRealKernel May 15 '18 at 16:14
  • I'm surprised you don't know what other people have done, but in any case, from what you say, it really sounds like you should stand up for your right to be credited as part of this project. – Faheem Mitha May 15 '18 at 19:34
9

Yes, you should discuss the issue of authorship. From this description, we can't tell you whether or not you are being taken advantage of. In general, whether authorship is appropriate depends on the intellectual content of your contribution.

To discuss the issue, start by saying "I'd like to discuss the issue of authorship on this project." If you'd like to be direct, you could then say, "I have committed a lot of time to this project. I am under the impression that my work is substantial enough that I might qualify as an author on papers arising out of this project. Under what circumstances would you consider including me as an author?"

If you'd like to be less direct, you could instead ask several questions about your committee members' philosophy on authorship. "What sort of contributions do you believe qualify for authorship on a project like the one we are working on together?"

If you don't like the answer (the person refuses to make you an author), then you need to set some boundaries in a professional manner. "I'd like to continue to contribute to this project. However, since there is not a possibility of authorship here, I am sure that you understand I need to prioritize my other work. Going forward, I can commit to X. If you need more help than this, I think we should revisit ways I could be compensated or qualify as an author."

  • Thanks for the answer @Dawn. I was going to include more detail of my contribution but the question ended up being pretty wordy. If directly discussing these things is typically acceptable, I think that's what I'll do. Thanks again for your suggestion. – TheRealKernel May 15 '18 at 3:12
  • 4
    +1, but before the last paragraph, I would suggest looping in the "major professor" (advisor). This will avoid conflict with him; further, he may be able to smooth things over and get you authorship (or some other remuneration). – cag51 May 15 '18 at 3:47
  • Most academic journals will give guidelines on their websites as to how to allocate authors for publications. Typing in data, probably not an author, contributing to the research in question, then yes. – Beerhunter May 15 '18 at 9:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.