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The Perils of Authorship

The Perils of Authorship By Kerry Grens Related Articles Feature: Dealing with Conflict Seven steps to lab harmony Ease conflict: read an example of a real lab's laws For about a decade Susan Parkhurst, who leads a developmental biology laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, served as the informal ombudsman for postdocs. She says authorship disputes were the most common probl

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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The Perils of Authorship


By Kerry Grens


For about a decade Susan Parkhurst, who leads a developmental biology laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, served as the informal ombudsman for postdocs. She says authorship disputes were the most common problem for postdocs. "I would have someone in here complaining about authorship once a week," Parkhurst says.

Even in her own lab, authorship issues arise. Several years ago two lab members were pursuing different projects: One was characterizing a mutation, and the other had identified a gene and was working to find a mutant. "It became clear at a lab meeting that they were working on the same thing, and we had to work out who goes on with this line of research," Parkhurst says. Parkhurst felt that...

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