[Air-L] Ethics and grad students

McLaughlin, Lisa M. Dr. mclauglm at muohio.edu
Tue Aug 14 18:37:16 PDT 2007

It seems to me that there is a question of who should have authorship and who should have a mention in the 'acknowledgements' at the end of an article. A number of years ago, when I was in graduate school, I couldn't have completed my dissertation without direction from my chair, who was an expert on Frankfurt School Critical Theory. He helped me to think through ideas but never contributed directly to the writing. To me, that's the job of a chair (as I tell my students frequently, 'I'm your chair, not your editor'). And, my chair ecouranged me to claim my own writing, rather than to benefit from having someone else's renowned name on the publications which came out of my dissertation. I tend to look upon him as a model of someone who worked with graduate students with the objective of helping us to situate ourselves within critical studies and find our voices within the field.

The question of degree of contribution is important, M-H, but 'contribution' is so subjective. In this peculiar academic world of ours, being listed as first- or second-author can communicate quite a lot, although it's not a straightforward matter in any sense. For me, the most aggravating circumstances are those in which faculty chairs claim first-authorship of articles which arose from graduate students' research. Yet, unless there has been an initial agreement about the co-authorship terms of a specific publication, I'd prefer to be considered as someone who facilitated the research in some way as opposed to sharing authorship.

Best regards,

From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org [air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of mhward [mhward at usyd.edu.au]
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 8:54 PM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-L] Ethics and grad students

I think this is another interesting issue. Neither of my supervisors want to
be listed on my papers routinely, and we have all agreed that I will decide
whether their contribution to a paper will be sufficient for me to add their
name. (At Sydney we don't have the concept of 'chairing' the thesis - the
entire PhD is usually examined on the thesis alone and the supervision of
the work is generally by one or two people, and although this not the case
across Australia it is still a very common practice. It's also the subject
of my own PhD.) However, both of them are full professors (ie very senior
academics in our system) and I'm a (very!) mature student. I don't feel I
need their names for credibility and they don't feel they need to be on my
papers for their reputations or to increase their research output.

On the other hand, my partner is supervising several research students in
the Nursing Faculty of this University. She contributes a lot to her
students' publications - beyond editing and providing the odd reference -
and she (quite rightly) has her name as a secondary author on all of their
publications as of right.


On 15/8/07 10:36 AM, "McLaughlin, Lisa M. Dr." <mclauglm at muohio.edu> wrote:

> This question addresses an important, and, in my opinion, most troubling
> question. To directly respond to the question, our human subjects protocol
> requires that the student who is conducting the master's/doctoral research be
> listed as the chief investigator, although this isn't necessary to prove in
> order to graduate with the degree. The most aggregious ethical problem, it
> seems to me, is that it's become business-as-usual among faculty members to
> put their names on any publications which come out of 'their' graduate
> students' research. This is 'because, after all, I contributed to the
> publication by chairing the thesis/dissertation', to quote a friend with whom
> I disagreed about this practice.
> I have heard that this is a common practice in the hard sciences and sometimes
> the social sciences. But, I have to take exception to faculty members'
> hijacking of research which is largely or mostly conducted by graduate
> students. Actually, I was a bit blind-sided to hear that this might be a
> common practice. One excuse by some faculty members: that having their
> (obviously 'known') names on the article submission would help to launch
> 'their' graduate student to the top; often, it's seemed to me that this
> practice is more of a case of graduate students' work allowing some faculty
> members to seem to be producing more research.
> I'd be interested in others' opinions on this issue (m-h included). I have
> been accused of being too entrenched in my view, and I welcome feedback if
> that's the case.
> All the best,
> Lisa
> (to sort of 'place' myself, I'm an associate professor with a joint
> appointment in media studies and women's studies)

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