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I completed my PhD in Biomedical Informatics a year ago and now work as a data analyst at an academic research institution. I am the only analyst in my particular department. I've noticed that when coworkers ask me to conduct an analysis for them, they will then use that analysis in reports, presentations at conferences, etc, without attributing them to me. This gives the impression that they conducted these analyses or created the tables themselves even though I made them. In one instance they cited the database I maintain as the source, although obviously the database did not analyze itself. I was not told that my analyses were being created for these purposes, just asked to make a table or a figure with no context for how it would be used.

How do I handle this? Should I put the tables or figures I make on figshare or something and ask them to cite that? Should I request co-authorship on any presentations? I have looked all over for how to cite analyses when the primary author did not conduct the analysis, but have been unable to find anything.

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    Sigh. I might have thought that an "academic research institution" would have a better handle on credit where credit is due (not necessarily co-author, but at least acknowledgments).
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 22, 2023 at 17:52

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Talk about authorship expectations in your initial consultation on any project. You may need to drive these conversations if the people around you are not doing so.

In some cases, your contributions may not really rise to the level of authorship, but if you are making intellectual contributions like choosing what methods to use and performing actual data analysis, you likely should be an author. However, the people you are working with may not be used to interacting with someone in the role you hold and may not understand what your relationship to the work should be. There are a lot of other people that contribute to scientific work that are not typically credited as authors, such as administrative staff, so it's easy to be confused. Being an author may also come with additional expectations and responsibilities, such as writing and revising manuscripts and presentations.

In cases where your level of input doesn't qualify for authorship, you can still ask to be acknowledged. I recommend not assuming that people are purposely slighting you, and instead explain to them how these sorts of things are important to you personally and professionally. Most people like to help other people out. When producing a figure for someone, you might say "I don't think my effort into this project is sufficient for authorship, but I would appreciate if you include my name in the acknowledgements section of your manuscripts and talks, and/or include my name in a slide presentation. This will help me be recognized professionally for the work I do so I can keep doing this job/get promoted/etc".

There's a lot of overlap between your role and statistical consulting, so you might find resources designed for statistical consultants are useful, such as https://community.amstat.org/cnsl/forclients/expect-content

See also previous Q&A here:

When does a statistical consultant become a co-author or collaborator?

Can an author claim sole authorship if the hired statistician writes half of the paper?

Medical Statistician: Concerned about missing authorship after conducting majority of project's data analysis, graphs, and figures

If you are creating resources that are useful across multiple projects such as software or databases, especially if these can be available to a broader audience than just your own institution, it may be worth creating a publication specifically for that resource that can be cited.

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  • Thank you, that is very helpful! I hadn't considered creating a publication about the database - excellent idea.
    – Lily Cook
    Aug 23, 2023 at 19:56
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    I suspect you're right, @Bryan Krause, about it not being deliberate, so I sent out an e-mail to everyone in my department explaining how attribution usually works and making everyone aware that I'll be having those discussions with them from now on. I also asked if I could give a short primer on the topic at our next staff meeting. A data analyst in a different department suggested that I create an e-mail signature to accompany any analysis I've created, and using the signature to summarize my expectations.
    – Lily Cook
    Aug 23, 2023 at 20:06
  • @LilyCook I'd probably recommend against the signature, that's not where people are expecting to find content in an email that they need to pay attention to unless they specifically go looking for something they'd normally find there like an office address or phone number.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 23, 2023 at 21:35

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