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spectastic

my name on a paper i didn't write??

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so a few years back, in my undergrad, I did a lot of work for this professor. we were going to publish, but the paper never came, even after i graduated. eventually, i learn that the paper that was going to have my name on it got turned into a review paper and a patent, and i wasn't on either, because i was just a worker bee. however, the professor put my name on a completely different project which i was not part of at all, but the concepts were all very similar that i could probably figure out what it was all about. i haven't really tried asking about it, because i feel like the answer is that the professor felt bad that he told me i was going to publish, but didn't, kind of like pulling the rug from under me, so he put my name on something else. also, it was a long time ago, on a 2nd/3rd author paper that won't really matter in my career anyway. but then again, I did do a lot of work back then, so i feel like i should have something to show for it. in fact most of the proof of concept experiments and optimizations that lead to the eventual publication was done by me, as the grad student i was working with at the time was kind of going through an existential crisis. you think i should put that paper on my cv?

 

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also, this is not related to my other topic "you put my name on your paper and i'll put my name......"

Edited by spectastic

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It is perfectly okay to have your name on a paper that you didn't write, so long as you contributed to the work. This includes proof of concept experiments and optimizations. In fact, journals nowadays ask all authors to detail their contribution to the manuscript, be it experimental design, performing experiments, data analysis and/or writing. So I don' t think that your professor compensated you because he did not get you in the paper that he planned to submit. I don't fully know your situation, but it may be that you generated data that were later used in another project. If in doubt, it is always a good idea to check with your professor, as you are expected to know any paper that have your name on it. 

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I mean.. the concepts are similar in that they both involve polymer chemistry, which I can pick up pretty quickly given my background knowledge, should someone decides to ask me about it. However, the ways that these polymers were made were completely different. The challenges were different. I'm quite certain they learned nothing about that project from the work that I did.

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I assume you mean whether you should put the paper with your name on it on your CV, obviously you can't put the other one there however much you think you deserve to. It's your choice what to put on your CV; you're not obligated to put all of your papers on there. If you do put a paper on there, though, I think it's fair game in the sense that you might get asked about it (e.g. in any interviews, or just in casual conversation), and you're signaling that you stand behind the results. If it's a paper stemming from undergrad work where you're a middle author and you're not even sure how your name got on it, personally I would leave it out. I don't think it'll help your career any, and frankly I would prefer not to have my name associated with something like that. 

And on a broader note, this practice of putting people's names on papers without their knowledge sounds just crazy to me. Also of not giving junior staff their due credit, but geez. How does a paper go through an entire review process when there are authors who aren't even aware of the paper? I would think at the very least there'd be an email and an opportunity to read a draft and comment/withdraw. I hope this isn't common. 

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meh, i'll just put it on there. it won't matter in 5 years, but my publication section is looking awfully lonely right now haha

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I agree with everything fuzzy said. I've even turned down authorship for papers where I did actually contributed but feel like my contribution was so distant from the final result that I didn't feel right being part of the paper. In essence, I had access to a fancy machine and pressed a button at the right time to get a bunch of numbers that I forwarded on to the person requesting said numbers. The other team did all of the work analysing the numbers and came up with an interesting result and invited me to be a coauthor. After talking with my advisor, I decided to turn it down. This experience did help me determine where I would draw the line at accepting coauthorship. I decided from that point on that if I only collected data for someone using a general set of skills then I would pass on coauthorship. I would only join a paper if I took the data and did the analysis of that dataset (not necessarily the entire dataset for the paper though) or if the data-taking required a very specific set of skills (for awhile, after our team commissioned a new fancy machine, there were only a small handful of us that knew how to make optimal use of it so while we trained more people on how to use it, if we took data for people, we were included on their papers). 

I also think that for now, it would be a good idea to keep the paper on your CV and then remove it later when you have plenty of middle-author papers. To me, this is just like whether you want to include stuff from undergrad or every poster/conference presentation. initially, it makes sense to do so because it's helpful to have it on your CV and at this early stage, people expect junior students to have things like this on their CVs. But as you gain more items to add to your CV, you can start removing things less connected to you, like this paper.

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