I have only great things to say about my doctoral mentor, David Botstein, and my post-doctoral mentor, Alexander van Oudenaarden. They both have been devoted mentors and have contributed meaningfully to all paper that we have co-authored. However, other professors appear less devoted to the research and rather assertive in demanding authorship and even correspondence rights for papers they have not contributed to or never even read. To me, such attitude seem abusive. It requires students and post-docs to lie in the section of author contributions. It results in misattribution of credit. It devalues the meaning of authorship. It erodes the relationship.

Perhaps my attitude is old-fashioned, or too idealistic, or simply impractical. It is shaped, at least in part, by my formative experiences as a doctoral student. I still can hear in my head David’s booming voice proclaiming: “A paper is not a medallion to hang and display on your chest. It’s a means of communicating your results”. I do think of papers as being first and foremost means of communicating science. The authors should be scientists who contributed to the results. The corresponding authors should be the scientists who can communicate and discuss the results.

What do you think about it? Have you experienced it? How can trainees deal with such professors, other than dropping their unfinished projects and running away?

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