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Publication, but I didnt do anything?

  1. Dec 17, 2011 #1
    Hi all,

    I started doing research with a professor back in September, and basically all I've done so far was write a bunch of computer programs. He submitted a paper for publication last week, and he put me as a co-author. But it doesn't feel right, because I don't think I deserve it.

    Just curious, does this normally happen for undergrad researchers?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2011 #2


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    It's up to him, really. Apparently, he valued your contributions. Just thank him and keep working.
  4. Dec 17, 2011 #3
    ^ this, and writing programs that were necessary to get the work done is a considerable contribution
  5. Dec 18, 2011 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    There's nothing wrong with talking to the professor about your concerns- presumably he didn't get your permission to add your name to the paper. Most likely, he thought he was acting correctly and that you would be excited.
  6. Dec 18, 2011 #5


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    Research projects can die when people write software that doesn't work, or is too inefficient to get the job finished on time. Maybe you didn't come up with any "big new ideas", but don't undervalue what you did contribute. Nothing much gets achieved (either in research or anything else) unless somebody does the grunt work, and does it right!
  7. Dec 18, 2011 #6
    The pragmatic aspects are a big part of actually following through with an experiment. If you were instrumental in getting the experiment off the ground, then you certainly earned your place on the paper.
  8. Dec 18, 2011 #7


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    What do you think you need to have done to deserve to be named as an author?

    Sometimes the lines between who qualifies and who doesn't can be a little blurry. You need to have contributed significantly to the work in some way - but "significant" can sometimes be difficult to define. What can be annyoing for students who volunteer their time to assist with research is that for the same work in, some can end up on papers and others may not.

    It's tempting to tell you to just accept it and move on, that having this publication to your name will only help you. But as an author, you are also assuming some of the responsibility for what you publish. You never know when you'll get an email from someone who read the paper and wants to discuss aspects of it with you. Or if you'll be asked about the details when you visit a graduate school you're interested in.
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