Chemistry researchers believe they are denied the credit they deserve

August 30, 2010

Half of the academic chemists who responded to a survey felt they had not always received enough credit for their contributions to papers, according to a study.

Jeffrey Seeman, visiting senior research scholar at the University of Richmond, Virginia, and Mark House, an anthropologist at research consultancy Giant Steps Research, surveyed 600 chemists on their attitudes towards authorship.

The results are detailed in a paper, “Influences on authorship issues: an evaluation of receiving, not receiving, and rejecting credit”, published last month in the journal Accountability in Research last month.

The study found that the perception of not receiving appropriate credit was independent of the respondent’s seniority, field of expertise and publication record.

The most common reason for not complaining about lack of credit was a fear of confronting senior authors.

An earlier paper, “Influences on authorship issues: an evaluation of giving credit”, published in the same journal in May, and based on the same survey, reported that students of senior authors were twice as likely as those of another supervisor in the same department to be credited as authors for exactly the same contribution to a project.

Younger researchers were least likely to deem others’ contributions worthy of authorship, and were most likely to confine credit to the acknowledgements section.

Nearly half of respondents had asked to have their name deleted as an author, and nearly a third had only discovered they were an author of a paper only after it had been submitted.

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