As a data scientist in biomedicine, I found myself contributing to many projects ad-hoc and pro-bono, either for analysis or writing. Submission of these project's papers can take a long time after my work.

How do I maximize the chances that that my contributions are not forgotten during the submission, if I deserve an authorship?

I thought about sending quarterly reminders, but I do not want to appear pushy about authorship, nor do I want to contribute free work indefinitely (since usually no matter how much I contribute, I often end up as middle authors in these ad-hoc projects). I have had unpleasant experiences in the past where my contribution was either forgotten, re-written, or discarded, resulting in no acknowledgement. Since it can do more harm than good to ask one's name to be added to the paper after the submission (due to the relationship damage), I wonder how I can best protect my interests.


1 Answer 1


When you agree to help out on a project, first discuss the parameters. What you can contribute. What you will gain from the collaboration. If you add to the intellectual content of the resulting paper(s), not just the scut work, then you are due authorship.

However, if you are helping someone in a different field, it might be possible/common for them to forget your contribution and where they would be without it.

So, settle it going in. You should always gain something from a collaboration. It might be knowledge, it might be money, but if your participation includes "ideas" and intellectual content then it should include authorship. Maybe not "first" authorship, but something more than a simple acknowledgement.

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