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You want to SHARE credit? January 26, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering, papers, research.
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I have a dilemma, one that is somewhat unique to my situation. Many people work in the same field of research as their spouse. However, my husband and I have several interests in the same subfield. While he doesn’t know that much about geophysics and I’m not all that great with electronics, there is a considerable amount of overlap in our other engineering interests.

Really, it’s awesome to have someone to talk about when we get stuck on technical problems. On the other hand, there is a serious drawback:

Papers.

We do a lot of our research together. It seems like when one of us gets interested in a project, the other inevitably becomes sucked in. And that’s fine. We like it that way. But when we’re putting together a paper on something, inevitably we sit there and stare at each other, pondering whether one or both of our names should go on it.

A reasonable person would say, “Of course! If you both made a significant contribution, then you both deserve to have credit for the final product.” So far, neither one of us has taken the Sheldon Cooper approach to sharing credit.

I especially felt this way while he was doing his dissertation. Sometimes he would come home after I’d gone to sleep and wake me up to talk about things, especially if frustrated. Next thing I knew, he was sleeping soundly, and I was wide awake trying to figure out his problem.

The real problem is that, someday, people may look at my CV, and see that most of my papers have been co-authored by my husband. They may wonder if he really deserves the credit and is helping me along. (The opposite scenario of him taking unearned credit is also plausible but less likely.)

At this point, we’ve been saying that fairness demands the other person be given credit. But I can’t help but wonder if down the line, one of us may end up regretting it.

If anyone has had any experience or wisdom to share on the topic, I’d love to hear it.

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Comments»

1. FrauTech - January 27, 2011

I’m sure sexism will play into how a lot of people view the paper. So unless you’re blogging under different last names you might either make an effort not to collaborate as often or see if he’s more willing to not have his name on stuff or be less of a part of stuff. I just think it will hurt you more than help him.


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