I know that most [people], including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. --  Leo Tolstoy
Chapter 2: The Nervous One

     Rich’s doctoral students and post-docs seldom left the program without some battle scars. The most public feud was with a graduate student, Adam, who drew his dissertation research from a funded project where Rich was PI and Adam was co-PI. When Adam left for a post-doc at Duke, he took a copy of all the project data and soon had a monograph accepted by the Society for Research in Child Development. Rich e-mailed his former student, “Return all data immediately; you have no rights to this,” while he searched for any paper or computer record that would verify his sole ownership of the data.

     So Brad felt lucky to work with a supervisor who had tendencies toward neither questionable nor exploitative behavior. Just very nervous habits. Too late did Brad learn that the reason for Pat’s nervousness was more than nicotine deprivation. Pat exerted complete control of her lab team’s research notebooks and insisted that all the loose-leaf notebooks come to her weekly as they were “her property.” They were never returned. Students and post-docs saw only aggregate data. Her program assistant meticulously entered the meticulously collected and meticulously recorded data into a spreadsheet. Pat alone worked on data analysis and reporting. She was generous with the credit for research coming from her lab. She always included the graduate students as co-authors in a way that fairly reflected their contributions. Brad wondered if Pat was trying to be more than fair and too generous. Occasionally lab technicians were listed as co-authors. On other occasions a senior faculty member’s name, whose contributions were never apparent, was listed as an author. But the research lab was a happy, collegial team that worked together and published together and got more funding together. Happy that is until the journal editor who published their most significant work to date received an e-mail questioning the data integrity of the team’s most recent publication.

Research Ethics
Chapter 2: The Nervous One
Discussion and Reflection Questions
Integration Questions
References and Resources

This chapter addresses collaborative science, including authorship and data ownership. Upon your completion of this chapter, we hope that you can identify essential criteria for determining authorship and credit as well as responsibilities of co-authors to their collaborators and the larger scientific community. We also want you to learn about sound data management and ownership practices.

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