I'm doing undergrad research with a team, advised by a professor. I have a good relationship with this professor, but told us after the research started that he would be first author. I was at first just excited to do research, but the more I think about it, the more I think this isn't right.
His contribution was the original idea- not a fleshed out idea that we just implemented, but a very general "try this approach," a push in the right direction. Taking this approach, mind you, would be obvious to anyone well versed in the field (as I have learned), and within this approach, there are thousands of different avenues we could go to try achieving the results we want.
We have spent months doing research, and we have weekly-ish meetings, in which he asks us questions about what we're doing (we explain how our work, because it is our own creation) and he reminds us to write down everything we do. This has been his contribution for the duration of the project.
We are expected to write the entire paper ourselves- which he will then edit.
I have a meeting with him (one on one) in the near future and I would really like to bring this up, because first authorship would be huge for me or anyone on my team, whereas he already has an academic career. But I am only a first year, and he has expressed interest in doing future research with me.
My question is: do I have any leverage in this argument? Can I present this as a deal breaker for me for future projects? Is there any other way to denote who actually did the work that I can push for here? I'm not sure if he wants to make it seem like he did the work or if that's just "what we do" in my department for undergrad research. I don't want to ruin my relationship with this professor, but I also don't want to feel like my team and I are being taken advantage of.
Responses to questions:
- My field is applied computer science
- I think it would make sense for either my friend or me to be first author (I don't think having to make this choice would lead to problems)
- I have no objection to co-first-authorship, but it would have to be me and my friend, not one of us plus the professor.