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On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research
researcher, even if at the moment of discovery the senior researcher is not present. By the same token, when a student or research assistant is making an intellectual contribution to a research project, that contribution deserves to be recognized. Senior scientists are well aware of the importance of credit in science and are expected to give junior researchers credit where warranted. In such cases, junior researchers may be listed as coauthors or even senior authors, depending on the work, traditions within the field, and arrangements within the team.
WHO SHOULD GET CREDIT FOR THE DISCOVERY OF PULSARS?
A much-discussed example of the difficulties associated with allocating credit between junior and senior researchers was the 1967 discovery by Jocelyn Bell, then a 24-year-old graduate student, of pulsars. Over the previous two years, Bell and several other students, under the supervision of Bell's thesis advisor, Anthony Hewish, had built a 4.5-acre radiotelescope to investigate scintillating radio sources in the sky. After the telescope began functioning, Bell was in charge of operating it and analyzing its data under Hewish's direction. One day Bell noticed ''a bit of scruff" on the data chart. She remembered seeing the same signal earlier and, by measuring the period of its recurrence, determined that it had to be coming from an extraterrestrial source. Together Bell and Hewish analyzed the signal and found several similar examples elsewhere in the sky. After discarding the idea that the signals were coming from an extraterrestrial intelligence, Hewish, Bell, and three other people involved in the project published a paper announcing the discovery, which was given the name "pulsar" by a British science reporter.
Many argued that Bell should have shared the Nobel Prize awarded to Hewish for the discovery, saying that her recognition of the signal was the crucial act of discovery. Others, including Bell herself, said that she received adequate recognition in other ways and should not have been so lavishly rewarded for doing what a graduate student is expected to do in a project conceived and set up by others.
Occasionally a name is included in a list of authors even though that person had little or nothing to do with the content of a paper. Such "honorary authors" dilute the credit due the people who actually did the work, inflate the credentials of those so "honored," and make the proper attribution of credit more difficult. Several 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. Some journals require all named authors to sign the letter that accompanies submission of the original article and all subsequent revisions to ensure that no author is named without consent and that all authors agree with the final version.
As with citations, author listings establish accountability as well as credit. When a paper is found to contain errors, whether caused by mistakes or deceit, authors might wish to disavow responsibility, saying that they were not involved in the part of t he paper containing the errors or that they had very little to do with the paper in general. However, an author who is willing to take credit for a paper must also bear