Sunday, July 27, 2008

To publish first or second

So recently I have been approached with a bit of a conundrum by my undergraduate supervisor. My thesis is (hopefully) going to be published this year and I have to decide whether to be first or second author on the project. I am going to be first author on my poster presentation in February based off the same data sample so I have that going for me.

As a break down, first authors are required to do all the data analysis, come up with hypotheses based off a thorough search of the previous literature, describe conclusions, and write a decent first draft that needs minimal changes to be publishable. Now the second author on the other hand must have some hand in the creation and "production" of the project (all of this has been done already) and must keep the first author in check by checking results for accuracy, reviewing the drafts, and other less central roles.

My supervisor has assured me that at my stage in academia just getting a publication with my name anywhere is an accomplishment and first or second is not a huge deal. So I just need to decide which role I wish to take. My personal conflict comes from the last role of the first author, the actual writing of the document. I love looking for data, hypothesizing, concluding, and data analysis. I am however very concerned about my ability to write a decent first draft. Writing is NOT my strong point and I would hate to write a whole draft that was unpublishable because my supervisor has to change so much. Although that would be a good writing experience, that would be heartbreaking and a bit of a waste of time.

Ahhhh, confusion.

So that is what is on my mind today.

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