As our goal with PEEC is to help students gain experience with conferences
and presentations, we want to clarify some specifics in regards to authorship
Authorship is something that is often debated, argued over, and can leave people feeling appreciated or under-appreciated, so it is important to have accurate author lists on papers and presentations too. For many of us, this conference is one of the first times we have ever presented research outside of a classroom environment. Below are some considerations to make when writing your authors list. We will mainly draw from the standard conventions within biological sciences, so this may change in other fields.
Who to include and how to order them?
The person who does the bulk of the research, conducts statistical analyses,
and writes most of the manuscript for publication is the first author. This will be the case on both the publication and the presentations regarding that research.
In many instances, that is you, congrats! First authorship on presentations and publications are great for your blooming scientific career. However, as early career scientists, we hardly ever get there alone.
For many of us, our research involves help from co-authors who provide support in the research process, edit the manuscript, and help make it through analysis.
One of the most important co-authors for early career scientists is the principal investigator (PI).
Sometimes this role is called the lead researcher. The name is not a good
descriptor of what this role actually means. Principal Investigators are the researchers that hold the scientific grants that allow for the hiring on of students to conduct research, and they generally have years of experience and publications in the field that we learn from and with while contributing to their research projects. In many cases, you know them as your supervisor.
They should be generally always included in your publications unless they have nothing to do with your research or you are conducting a side project in another research lab, in which case someone else takes on the role of PI.
In some instances, your supervisor may take on the role of co-author if they
are still involved in the publication to add to the confusion!
Typically, anyone that has made an important contribution to your work
should be listed as an author on your presentation, and these conversations
are good to have with your supervisor to make sure no one is left out. As
students, most if not all of our work is in collaboration with at least our
supervisor and the people who have sampled the data. Therefore, it is not very common to see a single author on a presentation
Usually, the order of authors after the first author reflects relative effort,
though if everyone worked equally hard you can clarify that author order
does not reflect effort within the manuscript or presentation. This second
way of ordering authors is becoming more popular within the broader
scientific literature as fighting over authorship position can be tiring,
arbitrary, and lead to unintentionally hurt feelings. Generally, the authorship
order should be you (if presenting on your own research), your co-authors,
and then your PI (usually your supervisor).