All’s Not Fair in Science and Publishing

From Frederick Southwick in The Scientist:

07_12_CriticSouthwickI had recently taken a position at an Ivy League institution when another junior faculty member showed me a micrograph of a macrophage containing intracellular bacteria. I immediately noticed an electron-dense material near the bacterial cells, which I suspected might be actin filaments of the host cell. I agreed to test this hypothesis, and using a fluorescent actin stain, found that, indeed, many of the bacterial cells had actin filaments on one pole. “Could this bacterium be harnessing the host’s actin to move within cells?” I wondered aloud to my colleague.

A month later I brought additional data confirming my findings to my collaborator’s office, where I noticed a paper on his desk with the bacterium’s name and actin in the title. He and a senior professor were listed as the authors, but I was not. “Where’s my name?” I asked. He noted that he and this senior professor had decided to perform their own electron microscopy studies, and were submitting their findings to a prestigious journal. “You’re welcome to publish your work separately,” he suggested.

More here.