Fragmented Publication - Case B2
Esther Brezinska is an assistant professor at a medical school where
she has been employed in a tenure-track appointment since completing
a productive postdoctoral research fellowship five years ago. Two
years ago, she was awarded her first investigator-initiated grant
from the National Institutes of Health and is now anticipating
preparation of a competitive renewal application for submission next
year .Next year, she also will be evaluated for promotion to
associate professor and award of tenure.
Dr. Brezinska has developed a successful technique for culturing
prostatic epithelial cells. Her NIH grant was awarded on the basis of
that success and the promise that the technique holds for testing a
variety of growth promoting and inhibitory substances. Her work has
important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of prostatic
At this juncture, Dr. Brezinska has tested two hormones and two
growth factors with positive and potentially exciting results.
Experiments utilizing five more substances are in various stages of
progress, and she has plans to test at least five additional agents.
She believes that it is time to publish these results beyond the
abstracts and poster presentations that she has regularly presented
at meetings as the work progressed. Now she faces a dilemma.
The most prestigious journal in her field requests authors "not to
separate fragments of a study into individual reports, but rather to
strive for full development of a topic." On the other hand, she
suspects that the medical school's promotion committee emphasizes
numbers of publications over the quality of content when reviewing
bibliographies of candidates for tenure. She wonders if the NIH study
section that will review her renewal application will be similarly
disposed. It would be easy to write up the results of the first four
experiments as a single report, since they are closely related, but
it might be of strategic value to have four separate references in
her curriculum vitae.
- What should be Dr. Brezinska' s primary considerations as she
evaluates how to publish her research findings in the scientific
- If she opts for publishing a few comprehensive reports, rather
than a greater number of less substantive papers, by what mechanism
can her various evaluators know that she is attempting to make a
more scholarly contribution?
- If Dr. Brezinska were at your institution, what kind of advice
would she likely get from her department chair or mentor concerning
- A Japanese scientist whom she knew as a postdoctoral fellow has
offered to translate Dr. Brezinska's publications into Japanese and
to submit them to a Japanese language journal that appears to be
anxious to publish her work. Dr. Brezinska rationalizes that this
will increase readership of her work in Japan, enhance her
international reputation, and at the same time provide additional
titles (in Japanese) in her curriculum vitae. Would she violate any
fundamental principles in doing so?
- Dr. Gordon Ryan, an assistant professor in the Department of
Urology, has been invaluable in providing prostatic cells for Dr.
Brezinska's studies. She, in turn, has helped him with the
technicalities of immunocytochemical procedures in his own
investigations. Dr. Ryan suggests that if each of them lists the
other as coauthor in their respective publications, both of their
prospects for promotion might be enhanced. Dr. Brezinska suspects
that a refusal to engage in this practice might jeopardize chances
for Dr. Ryan's future cooperation. How can she resolve this issue