Oddone comments on co-author conundrum

The Chronicle of HIgher Education“To Co-Author, or Not to Co-Author?” That is the question posed in a recent blog post, the February 11 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article drew 22 comments.

We asked Dr. Gene Oddone for his reflections. We particularly wanted to know the view of promotion committee members. Here’s what he told us.

“This is an interesting article. It comes up in mentoring discussions a lot with the topic being:

How much should I collaborate on projects and get co-authorship, and how much should I do as lead investigator?

This article raises the question of whether or not there is too much collaborative co-investigator work. It highlights the concern that promotion committees will ask what is “your work” and what is the work of others?

I think that’s less of an issue in clinical and health services research where the teams are often very large. In health services research most projects have 10 or more individuals all providing important input or expertise, and without whom, the overall project may not work. So, there are often 10 or more co-authors on a paper.

In the more laboratory-based sciences, and for sure in the Arts & Sciences, I think co-authoring is often frowned upon mostly because faculty need to prove their individual, and often independent, contributions to the field.

In clinical sciences and health services research, as long as trainees or junior faculty (or senior faculty for that matter) have some things for which they are the primary thought leader, and for which they are the head of the research team for that topic, meaning likely first author for most of the papers coming out of it, then I don’t think there is such a thing as too much co-authoring. It shows that you have unique skills valued by the team.”

Blog post by Geoffrey Pullum found in Lingua Franca (Language and writing in academe), The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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