Courtesy Authorship - Case B4

Dr. Jonathan Perry, a tenured professor, used his sabbatical to visit the laboratory of Dr. Brian Chandler, a widely published and respected senior scientist. During his stay in Dr. Chandler's lab, Dr. Perry hoped to learn certain techniques of molecular biology that he would employ in his own research. To afford Dr. Perry this opportunity, Dr. Chandler assigned him a leading role in a new project that the lab was undertaking. After seven months, laboratory work on the project was completed, and Dr. Perry returned to his own institution to begin work on a paper to report the final results. Ultimately, many drafts of the paper were faxed back and forth between laboratories until Dr. Perry received the penultimate version from Dr. Chandler's lab. On this version, a new name, I. B. Martin, Ph.D., appeared among the authors listed. Dr. Perry had never met Dr. Martin, never worked with him on any technical aspect of the project, and had never heard his name or ideas mentioned in the laboratory meetings in which the project was planned or the results discussed.

Dr. Perry called Dr. Chandler and questioned the addition of Dr. Martin as an author on the manuscript. Dr. Chandler stated that, due to prior collaborations, it was a longstanding policy to include Dr. Martin on all publications coming out of Dr. Chandler's laboratory. Dr. Martin's laboratory had a reciprocal agreement, he added. Dr. Perry stated that he did not feel that Dr. Martin was a qualified author on this particular paper since he had not made a significant contribution to the work being published. Dr. Chandler replied that Dr. Perry did not have the right to question the policy of a laboratory in which he had worked as an invited guest. Dr. Perry maintained his position that Dr. Martin did not belong as an author on the paper and further stated that if Dr. Chandler insisted on including Dr. Martin's name, then, as first author, Dr. Perry would not allow the paper to be submitted. Dr. Chandler responded, "Well, you can withdraw your name, but the work was done here in my laboratory and we plan to submit the paper for publication."


  1. What do you think of the reciprocal agreement between Dr. Martin's and Dr. Chandler's laboratories? Were Dr. Perry's concerns legitimate?
  2. Dr. Perry was a tenured professor at a different institution from Dr. Chandler's. Under these circumstances it may have been relatively easy for him to voice his concerns to Dr. Chandler. What difficulties might a postdoctoral or graduate student in Dr. Chandler's lab have in handling this situation? How might those difficulties be overcome?
  3. The results of this project are significant and provide a novel insight into the field that could prove beneficial to many investigators in the area. Therefore, should Dr. Perry compromise with Dr. Chandler so that the paper can be promptly published? Which consideration -- authorship or publication -- is more important in the advancement of science?
  4. What do you think of Dr. Chandler's statement in the concluding sentence of the case? Would it be appropriate for Dr. Chandler to proceed with publishing the paper? What are Dr. Perry's and Dr. Chandler's rights with respect to the data and the publication of the data?
  5. Assume that Dr. Martin in fact reviewed and commented on all drafts of the paper in question. Could this contribution to the effort be significant enough to merit authorship?


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