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Carving Up the Pie

Posted on December 4, 2007

Jay Belsky (bio) talks about establishing a publication policy for the NICHD Study of Early Child Care.

 

One of the big issues in multi-site studies or any kind of collaborations is carving up the pie. If the currency of the realm is publication and if the value of the publication or for you is where your name is on the author list - which it is - then the issue is: How do you decide that? That’s not easy. We [at the NICHD Study of Early Child Care] came up with an idea very early on - in fact it was my idea - that all our papers should be corporate author, because we were all interested in the same question.

I could see ahead of time that it would be fratricidal if all of a sudden we were all jockeying for position to be the first or second author rather than the 42nd author. So we were persuaded and we adopted a notion that our articles would be at least the ones asking the main questions would be corporate author only.

So even there we had to develop a publication policy. So we actually defined three different kinds of papers early on. Before our first 10, 15 years we only used one kind which was CAO, corporate author only. There was then NACA, named author plus corporate author only and there was NAO, named author only. We had to specify the criterion and which kinds of questions and papers fell into each one. But by surrendering ego early on it meant that nobody’s going to get credit over anybody else.

That was really important of us to go to a corporate author publication strategy because it enabled us not to compete with each other and cooperate. But that’s harder under 1) smaller collaborations perhaps and 2) when the common question is so fundamentally shared as it might be for example in a clinical trial and 3) when people have fundamentally different points of view and a strong stake in what’s going on.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.

References
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/seccyd.aspx

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