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OPTIMIZING THE SCIENTIFIC ENDEAVOR: ENCOURAGE RESEARCH INTEGRITY

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Title: THE AUTHORSHIP LIST IN SCIENCE: JUNIOR PHYSICISTS RECOLLECTIONS AND PERCEPTIONS OF WHO APPEARS AND WHY Author: Eugen Tarnow Last modified by – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: OPTIMIZING THE SCIENTIFIC ENDEAVOR: ENCOURAGE RESEARCH INTEGRITY


1
OPTIMIZING THE SCIENTIFIC ENDEAVOR ENCOURAGE
RESEARCH INTEGRITY
  • Eugen Tarnow
  • Avalon Business Systems, Inc.
  • etarnow_at_avabiz.com
  • www.avabiz.com
  • Riverdale, NY

2
ME
  • S.B. and Ph.D. in Physics (M.I.T. 83 and 89)
  • Postdoc at Xerox PARC and Los Alamos National
    Labs
  • 23 publications in physics then interdisciplinary
    research
  • "Like Water and Vapor--Conformity and
    Independence in the Large Group," Behavioral
    Science
  • "The Authority Relation in the Airplane Cockpit
    and the Concept of Obedience Optimization,
    (chapter in coming LEA book on Milgram)
  • A Recipe for Mission and Vision Statements,
    Journal of Marketing Practice Applied Marketing
    Science
  • The Authorship List in Science Junior
    Physicists Perceptions of Who Appears and Why,
    Science and Engineering Ethics, APS News, Nature,
    AAAS Professional Ethics Report, Salon Magazine,
    and perhaps The Scientist
  • Owner of a small software business

3
CONTENTS
  • Why ethical authorship is important
  • Potential situation of a physics postdoc
  • Previous work
  • Survey of physics postdocs authorship
  • APS ethical statement
  • Quantify inappropriate authorship according to
    APS ethical statement
  • Communication between postdoc and boss about
    authorship criteria
  • Institutional response
  • Views of senior scientists
  • How to improve the process of assigning
    authorship
  • ORI proposal

4
ASSIGNING AUTHORSHIP - WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
  • An efficient market of scientific intellectual
    property
  • A great incentive and organizational catalyst -
    public demonstration of intellectual achievement
    and ownership
  • Basis for who gets to decide what science will be
    done and who will do it
  • Trust from authorship integrity enables free flow
    of information

5
ASSIGNING AUTHORSHIP - WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
  • Thanks for responding.
  • The reason the public should be interested in it
    is that when credit is not given when due, the
  • scientific endeavor becomes a less efficient
    market for ideas and their tax money will then be
  • spent in a less efficient way.
  • An efficient market for ideas should include a
    clear statement for who did what in research
  • papers, and, alternatively, a clear statement as
    to who should be on the byline.
  • Currently, with the exception of biology, there
    is no such authorship statement in any science
  • and, including biology, there is a considerable
    amount of honorary authorship.

6
A CONFUSING SITUATION
  • 1998 Nobel Prize for the fractional quantum Hall
    effect. Two papers, an experimental paper with
    three authors and a theoretical with one author
  • The crystal grower, the third author on the first
    paper, Art Gossard, got the American Physical
    Society Buckley prize but not the Nobel
  • Only political insiders in the field know what it
    means

7
POTENTIAL SITUATION THAT MIGHT BE TROUBLING TO A
JUNIOR SCIENTIST
  • Potential postdoc situation
  • During the manuscript review, the question of
    authorship comes up
  • Postdoc finds her or his authorship diluted and
    questions the authorship assignment
  • Is there a standard? - Typically nothing in
    writing.
  • Ask friends
  • Cant ask higher-ups
  • What would be the consequences of removing
    extraneous authors, including boss?

8
POTENTIAL SITUATION THAT MIGHT BE TROUBLING TO A
JUNIOR SCIENTISTCONTD
  • There isnt much the postdoc can do!

9
PREVIOUS WORK
  • Vasta (1981) in psychology
  • Swazey, Anderson and Lewis (1993) science
    graduate students and faculty
  • Kalichman and Friedman (1992) medical postdocs
  • Eastwood, Derish, Leash, and Ordway (1996)
    medical postdocs

10
PREVIOUS WORK - VASTA (1981)
  • Junior and senior members of the APA with PhD at
    research universities
  • 28 has been involved in a situation in which
    their authorship was not commensurate with their
    input
  • Ethical guidelines not specific and not used
  • 21 considered honorary authorship reasonable
    (not correlated with professional age)
  • Seeming division of respondents - those who care
    and those who dont
  • J. Supp. Abstract Serv. Cat. Of Selected Docs. In
    Psych!

11
PREVIOUS WORK - VASTA (1981)
12
PREVIOUS WORK - VASTA (1981)
13
PREVIOUS WORK - VASTA (1981)
14
PREVIOUS WORK - VASTA (1981)
15
PREVIOUS WORK - SWAZEY, ANDERSON AND LEWIS (1993)
  • University profs and grad students in 4 fields
  • Exposure to ethical misconduct within the last
    five years
  • Inappropriate authorship perpetrated by faculty
    as common as plagiarism by students
  • Student reports on faculty misappropriation of
    authorship are similar to faculty reports on
    faculty misappropriation of authorship
  • Initial obscure publication?

16
PREVIOUS WORK - KALICHMAN AND FRIEDMAN (1992)
EASTWOOD, DERISH, LEASH AND ORDWAY (1996)
  • Medical postdocs at UCSF (66 PhDs and the rest
    MDs and PharmDs)
  • Fewer than half familiar with any university,
    school, laboratory or departmental guidelines for
    research and publication
  • Nearly half believed being head of the lab
    warrants authorship and slightly fewer believed
    obtaining funds warrants authorship (in direct
    opposition to Uniform Requirement for
    Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals)
  • Tendency to award honorary authorship also
    correlated with exposure to honorary authorship
    or unfairly denied authorship

17
PREVIOUS WORK - EDLO SOLVE PROBLEM WITH ETHICS
COURSE?
  • 18 had had course in research ethics
  • Ethics course participation correlated with
    belief of changed behavior but not actual change
    in behavior
  • Ethics course correlated positively with tendency
    to award honorary authorship

18
PROBABLY CANNOT SOLVE PROBLEM WITH ETHICS COURSE
WHEN THE PUSH COMES TO SHOVE
  • Fundamental ethics experiment Stanley Milgrams
    electrical shock experiment.
  • Extreme experiment asks subjects to administer
    larger and larger electrical shocks until they
    kill the subject or the subject becomes
    unconscious.
  • The subjects ethics training (though shalt not
    kill) was of no use.
  • The pressure of the situation overwhelmed.

19
WHAT MY SURVEY IS ABOUT
  • Knowledge of specific community-wide ethical
    guidelines
  • Interpretation of ethical guidelines
  • Precise count of inappropriate authorship
  • How much communication takes place in the
    authorship assignment process?
  • Institutional response

20
THE UPSHOT WILL BE
  • Assignment of authorship is not a well defined
    process
  • Little communication takes place between postdoc
    and boss
  • A substantial amount of inappropriate authorship
    exists

21
METHOD
  • Questionnaire
  • Two samples (191 postdocs in total)
  • A national laboratory (with call-backs)
  • AIP mailing list of university postdocs (no
    call-backs)
  • 53 overall return rate

22
APS GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
STATEMENT ON AUTHORSHIP
  • Authorship should be limited to those who have
    made a significant contribution to the concept,
    design, execution and interpretation of the
    research study.

23
BIOMEDICAL JOURNAL EDITORS STATEMENT ON
AUTHORSHIP IS BETTER ...
  • Authorship credit should be based only on
    substantial contributions to (a) conception and
    design, or analysis and interpretation of data
    (b) drafting the article or revising it
    critically for important intellectual content
    and on (c) final approval of the version to be
    published. Conditions (a), (b), and (c) must all
    be met. Participation solely in the acquisition
    of funding or the collection of data does not
    justify authorship. General supervision of the
    research group is also not sufficient for
    authorship Editors may require authors to
    justify the assignment of authorship

24
IN PHYSICS ASSIGNMENT OF AUTHORSHIP IS NOT WELL
DEFINED
  • Most postdocs (74) do not recall seeing APS
    authorship statement
  • Half believe that obtaining funding warrants
    authorship according to the APS authorship
    statement
  • Statement does not specify significant
    intellectual contribution
  • In opposition to biomedical editors
  • Most postdocs and supervisors (60-70) do not
    agree on authorship criteria
  • Most postdocs and supervisors (75 of all
    relationships) do not discuss authorship criteria

25
WHY NO DISCUSSION WITH SUPERVISOR? TOO IMPORTANT
TO CAREER
  • Your publications 4.2
  • Supervisor recommendation letters 4.1
  • Prestige and influence from supervisor 3.5
  • Learning from supervisor 3.5

26
IN PHYSICS INAPPROPRIATE AUTHORSHIP IS COMMON
  • Half of all postdocs had at least one paper with
    an inappropriate author in their current position

27
PARTICULARS OF INAPPROPRIATE AUTHORSHIP I
  • Very few postdocs write single-authored paper
  • The supervisor was an author on 92 of all the
    postdocs papers
  • On 14 of papers, the supervisor was listed
    inappropriately.
  • On 1 of papers, the postdoc was an inappropriate
    author
  • On 33 of all papers with authors in addition to
    the supervisor and the postdoc, one or more of
    those authors was listed inappropriately

28
PARTICULARS OF INAPPROPRIATE AUTHORSHIP II
  • Reasons for inappropriate authorship
  • Relationship building
  • Minor contributions
  • Previous or expected contributions
  • Crediting staff that are close in a social sense

29
INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE
  • Survey sponsorship turned down by 3 APS
    committees, in particular the Publications
    Oversight Committee with the chief editor in
    charge.
  • Postdoc with elected APS position told me that
    the present study was offensive, a hot issue
    and that he feared isolating himself should he
    bring it up in an APS committee meeting.
  • One high-up APS official told me allocation of
    authorship was not a problem the person guessed
    that only a minority of perhaps ten percent of
    supervisors would misappropriate authorship. The
    person also stated that a study of authorship
    issues was nobodys highest priority with the
    exception of postdocs who he said tend
    sometimes to be an underclass and therefore
    would not have the political clout needed to
    bring up the issue.
  • Another high-up APS official told me that once
    you obtain a high level position it becomes easy
    to just go with the flow, explaining to me why it
    was hard to get sponsorship.
  • AIP turned down sponsorship informally
  • NSF turned down sponsorship of post-survey work
    (evaluations were 2 for poor, 2 for fair, 2 for
    good, 2 for very good)

30
INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE
  • American Scientist sat on it for a long time
  • Once published in SEE, republished by American
    Physical Society News, Nature, AAAS Professional
    Ethics Report (coming), The Scientist (probably
    coming)
  • Gave paper and interview to Physics Today for
    ethical misconduct article. PT instead quoted
    senior physicist saying there is no statistics
    on misconduct in physics.
  • Excluded from Whats New

31
COMMUNITY INTEREST IN HONORARY AUTHORSHIP
  • 0.006 of all research articles in MEDLINE are
    about authorship, the currency in science -
    compare this with the number of articles we face
    every day about our regular currency - money
  • Most are letters to and from editors
  • The number of web pages on honorary authorship is
    minimal - only 75 on Altavista to be compared
    with 47,000 pages on plagiarism
  • MIT web page 4/126 ratio, no policy
  • Harvard web page 3/87 ratio, policy only in
    HSPH
  • NSF web page 0/4 ratio

32
COMMUNITY INTEREST IN HONORARY AUTHORSHIP
  • Honorary authorship not part of the Fabrication,
    Falsification, Plagiarism paradigm of the NAS
  • Commission on Scientific Integrity did not touch
    upon assignment of authorship (ORI has an
    interest in, but does not accept, authorship
    disputes)
  • Biomedical journal editors an exception

33
INSTITUTIONAL INTEREST
  • NAS writes in On Being a Scientist (1989)
  • If a senior researcher has defined and put a
    project into motion and a junior researcher is
    invited to join in, major credit may go to the
    senior researcher, even if at the moment of
    discovery the senior researcher is not present
  • Decisions about how credit is to be allotted for
    ... Contributions are far from easy and require
    serious thought and collegial discussion. If in
    doubt about the distribution of credit, a
    researcher must talk frankly with others,
    including the senior scientist.
  • Plagiarism is the most blatant from of
    misappropriation of credit me the most blatant
    form of plagiarism is honorary authorship
  • Honorary authors dilute the credit due to the
    people who actually did the work, and make the
    proper attribution of credit more difficult.
    Some scientific journals now state that a person
    should be listed as the author of a paper only if
    that person made a direct and substantial
    contribution to the paper. Of course, such terms
    as direct and substantial are themselves open
    to interpretation. But such statements of
    principle help change customary practices, which
    is the only lasting way to discourage the
    practice of honorary authorship.

34
OPINIONS OF SENIOR SCIENTISTS ON HONORARY
AUTHORSHIP
  • Well-known physicist at MIT
  • Rate of misconduct low (wrong, unknown at the
    time)
  • There is APS guidelines and a procedure to
    complain (wrong)
  • Senior physicist postdoc ombudsman at LANL
  • Survey nasty There is another possible
    approach to publishing, physics and life, which
    is to try to be generous and nice
  • Senior Russian physicist
  • I call the phenomenon you described "scientific
    slavery" ... some institutions always followed
    the strict rules of Russian intelligentsia and
    never committed this sin. However, many other
    people practiced this scientific serfdom ... Some
    very influential members of the USSR Academy of
    Sciences, directors of chemical institutes and
    members of the Communist Party, coauthored about
    500 and more papers each, i.e., coauthored almost
    all papers published by their institute.
    Especially widespread was this practice in the
    industrial scientific institutions - - - people
    who become "coauthors" often do not understand
    even what is written in the paper

35
OPINIONS OF SENIOR SCIENTISTS ON HONORARY
AUTHORSHIP
  • Senior physicist at the Max Planck Institute
  • Not to detriment of junior scientists, only
    glorifies senior scientists
  • Problem in Germany probably bigger than elsewhere
  • Some senior scientists believe they are a
    superior "bunch" and that their mere presence
    suffices to inspire the work (often it suffices
    to get jobs to their students anyhow) ... Some of
    the papers they coauthor are fully wrong. When
    this is pointed out to them, they say that they
    only gave the IDEA, they had nothing to do with
    the execution
  • The rules are indeed unwritten but, at least in
    physics, by and large they work
  • Student has not forgotten the day he, the
    supervisor, refused to be a coauthor on the
    students first paper
  • There is a story of a professor who added his
    name to any paper of his institute. A new member
    X wrote it himself, gave it to the boss to
    approve and send for publication and the paper
    appeared under the authorship of ..... X and Y!
  • German physics guidelines similar to the APS

36
HOW TO IMPROVE THE PROCESS OF ASSIGNING
AUTHORSHIP?
  • APS statement on authorship needs
  • 1. To be more specific (should, for example,
    specify significant intellectual contribution
    or even significant original intellectual
    contribution)
  • 2. Marketing
  • Authorship assignment process needs change.
  • EITHER
  • Use patent authorship model - disinterested third
    party writes down authorship list after inquiring
    into the work
  • OR
  • Mandate authorship section which specifies which
    author did what
  • People need to be able to discuss and complain
    publicly

37
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI THREE PAPERS AND A
BOOK ON INTEGRITY IN SCIENCE
  • Paper 1 Does position make a difference during
    enforcement of ethical misconduct?
  • Paper 2 What is the role of funding in
    encouraging or discouraging ethical misconduct?
  • Paper 3 Development of the ethical science
    organization
  • Book Optimizing Science By Encouraging Integrity

38
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE -
  • the Baltimore case will seem proof that the
    scientific community can cover up the errors of
    eminent insiders at the expense of unestablished
    whistleblowers (Sir John Maddox, former editor
    of Nature, New York Times 1991)

39
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE -
  • The practice of honorary authorship also
    deserves scrutiny. Renaissance painters trained
    their apprentices by allowing them to work on
    canvases to which the master then signed his
    name. This tradition gave way, over time, to
    fairer recognition of an individual artist's
    contributions. In some fields of science and
    engineering, it is traditional to place the
    senior researcher's name on all work done by the
    group. Not every tradition is good. Honorary
    authorship diffuses accountability and can lead
    to irresponsible research. (Massey, former NSF
    Director, 1991 commencement speech at MIT)

40
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE - - RESPONDENTS -
41
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE - - NUMBER OF REPORTER ALLEGATIONS -
42
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE - - REPORTER -
43
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DOES POSITION MAKE
A DIFFERENCE - - POTENTIAL MEASURES -
  • Existence and accessibility of policies for
    plagiarism vs. for honorary authorship
    (plagiarism is primarily a student misconduct
    while honorary authorship is primarily a faculty
    misconduct and they are reported to have the same
    frequency of exposure see (Swazey, Anderson
    Lewis))
  • Knowledge of how to file a report of academic
    misconduct as a function of academic rank
  • Institutional actions vs. academic rank of
    respondent
  • Academic rank composition of inquiry/investigation
    panels
  • Composition of inquiry / investigation panels vs.
    academic rank of respondent
  • Number of allegations vs. difference in rank
    between respondent and reporter

44
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- ROLE OF FUNDING -
  • Inspect established misconduct cases for stresses
    from research funding
  • Conduct survey of funding stresses with the
    established ethical misconductees
  • Review APS surveys of physics funding

45
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- DEVELOPMENT OF THE
ETHICAL ORGANIZATION -
  • Analyze the ORI misconduct policies collection
  • What type of misconduct is mentioned
  • How tight are the definitions
  • Find corresponding procedures
  • How easily accessible are the procedures
  • How standardized are the procedures
  • Survey different-ranked researchers about
    handling of misconduct at their institution and
    awareness of ethical guidelines
  • Create ethical development index for
    organizations
  • Study how organizations move on this index

46
PROPOSAL FOR PROJECT AT ORI- OPTIMIZING SCIENCE
BY ENCOURAGING INTEGRITY-
  • What is ethical conduct and misconduct
  • Statistics of ethical misconduct in science
  • How does the scientific community deal with
    ethical misconduct?
  • Do funding policies make it more difficult to be
    ethical?
  • How science organizations develop an ethical
    awareness
  • Ethical development index
  • Study the return on tax payers investment in
    science
  • Find out whether an ethical environment
    correlates with higher ROI

47
SUMMARY
  • Why ethical authorship is important
  • Postdocs are vulnerable
  • Previous work
  • Survey of physics postdocs authorship
  • APS ethical statement not tight, not marketed,
    not used
  • No communication between postdoc and boss about
    authorship criteria
  • Substantial amount of inappropriate authorship
    according to APS ethical statement
  • Institutional response - overall negative
  • Views of senior scientists not that different
  • Power of senior scientists very different
  • How to improve the process of assigning
    authorship
  • ORI proposal

48
FOR FUN ARE THERE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF
RESPONDENTS?
  • Are there two types of respondents? I.e. those
    who care about the ethics of authorship and those
    who dont? Would not be inconsistent with
    popular stage theories of moral development...

FIGURE 1. Percentage of postdocs versus amount
of inappropriate authorship reported. (a) The
upper panel shows the experimental data (b) The
lower panel shows a typical simulation graph
using a single probability of inappropriate
author of 17.
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