I'm a student. I was part of a collaboration with a different lab. I worked extensively with another student (and sometimes alone) for several months to produce material that was later used in the other lab. After finishing that, I moved to a different lab to continue my studies. Today I realized that the project is going to be published soon, but no one talked with me.

I feel that I contributed enough to be part of that paper since the material I participated in making was part of that collaborative research. What should I do?

I got a message from the PI that according to "McNutt et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb 2018" I do not stand for all conditions, therefore not eligible for that credit.

Again, I don't understand anything in those political rules, all I know is that the material I made and worked on for several monthes was a significant part in the later experiments. I can't understand the reason why not to include me.

  • Have you talked to the authors and shared these thoughts?
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 20 at 21:36
  • 1
    This paper wasn't officially published yet, and no I didn't talk with them yet. I'm about to do that really soon.
    – No name
    Feb 20 at 21:38
  • 5
    Nothing much else to do until you've done that.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 20 at 22:11
  • "I worked extensively with another student (and sometimes alone)" Are the supervisors and PIs responsible for the paper actually aware of that in general and specifically of the extent of your work? Feb 21 at 6:04
  • 4
    @Noname did they give a reason as to why you're not qualified?
    – justauser
    Feb 21 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


Have a conversation with the lead author or PI about your participation and whether you contributed enough to earn authorship. It is hard to say what the outcome will be, but you, at least, likely deserve an acknowledgement for your work.

The decision will (should) be based on whether your participation contribute intellectual, creative, content or, instead, was work at the direction of others. The first earns authorship. The other may not, but at least an acknowledgement.

Talk to them. Make your case.

However, it isn't just hard work and effort that makes you an author. More is needed: contributions to the intellectual content.

A couple of examples where hard work likely doesn't result in authorship:

If someone, A, designs an experiment requiring recording interviews and B carries out those interviews at the direction of A, the B might not be an author.

If B creates a physical model from blueprints designed by A for some applied project, the B might not be an author.

If B writes a computer program from a solid design by A, then B might not be an author.

If B is paid for work in some research project the B might not be an author.

And some feel that undergraduates, especially, are "paid" in the learning they get from participation. I won't necessarily condone that, but it happens.

  • Even if it was work at the direction of others, it qualifies the OP for authorship as the OP did a substantial amount of work for several months and he/she is only a student so can't be expected to do much else at this stage.
    – vyali
    Feb 20 at 23:08
  • I talked about it. I'm not qualified to be included according to what I've been told by the PI. Even though I contributed to producing the material used in the paper
    – No name
    Feb 21 at 9:29
  • @Buffy, although my status is a student, I did not do that work as a undergraduate student. I did that work as part of the mission I got from the PI because they needed to close that gap in order to send that material to the collaborators. I indeed was working with another student, I wasn't learning from him, but we worked together.
    – No name
    Feb 21 at 19:52
  • 3
    Here is a fairly common view on requirements for authorship. Some others omit the second bullet(as I would): icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/…
    – Buffy
    Feb 21 at 20:25
  • 1
    @sarat.kant, welcome to the site. You are free to disagree, of course, but I'll stick with what I wrote. Authorship requires creativity IMO. I won't judge the OPs contribution here, but that should be the general idea.
    – Buffy
    Feb 26 at 17:30

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