I have a somewhat stupid question that has been bothering me for a few weeks. So, in my sophomore year of high school, I had conducted a physics research project that involved electric generators. I dedicated a lot of time to this project (around 100 hours), but I am now having some concerns. Here is what I did on the project:

In the research investigation, I proposed the experiment, conducted the background research, developed the hypotheses, developed the procedure, constructed the generator (with the help of my father), carried out the experiment, analyzed the data, interpreted the results (with the help of my physics teacher), drew the conclusions, and presented the research.

Here is the help that I received:

I received assistance from my father with the construction of the generator used in the project. My father helped by providing suggestions (for example, my initial idea was to construct the generator frame out of wood, but my father suggested using LEGOs instead for cost-effectiveness and simplicity; this was in addition to other suggestions regarding the generator construction). My father also helped me with parts of the experiment that were dangerous (i.e. parts that required the use of an X-Acto knife) and parts that used tools that I had no experience with (multimeters), and he supervised the experiment. My physics teacher helped with the interpretation of the results.

I was wondering if this research is my own. My main problem regarding this is that this research allowed me to win a number of science fairs, including a regional one. However, when I place these awards on a resume (for example, a college application), I do not put the "acknowledgements" down with it, so the places that receive my resume expect the research to be my own. Does this meet that requirement? I am sorry for such a ridiculous question, this has just been really bothering me (I have even considered excluding all of those awards from my resume, but that would greatly hurt my resume and it is not as if I did no work at all). Thank you!

  • If you had published a paper based on your research, you and your father (and possibly your physics teacher) would have been co-authors. At least in my field, all co-authors can take individual credit for their joint papers.
    – JeffE
    Jan 3 '17 at 23:41
  • 1
    I think I'm getting deja vu here. This is an exact, verbatim duplicate of a question from a couple of weeks ago. I can't find the original, but the comment I left on it still stands: Did Peter Higgs build the LHC with his bare hands? No. You're fine to put this project on your CV.
    – astronat
    Jan 4 '17 at 0:16

I commend you on taking ethical authorship seriously. Authorship requirements are not entirely clear, and customs may vary across academic disciplines and cultures.

I would include the awards on your resume/CV. Based on what you described, I doubt that you will ever have the legitimacy of your claim to authorship questioned, since you developed and executed a majority of the ideas for your project. Also, you are not trying to take credit for others ideas (you are very clear and forthcoming about who thought of/did what), you are just saying you won awards, which you did.

There are many articles in peer-reviewed journals on authorship ethics. For example, this article in Nature.

Nature also published an article on a physics paper with >5,000 authors.

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