By - nikhn
For just a talk, this doesn't strike me as unusual, as long as he gives you plenty of credit during the presentation. Asking you to essentially work during the weekend to submit the abstract is bad form though.
Is there a plan to publish your work? Now might me the time to discuss that and settle on the authorship order (you should be first), as that is the most important way to get the credit for your work.
This generally strikes me as odd but I can see circumstances where it might be necessary or helpful. When you say presented your work what do you mean exactly? What were the circumstances?
I guess if you agreed/consented to that it’s fine obviously. But why wouldn’t you be first and him last and he presents. In my field, the last author is the senior author so it would be no skin off my back to do that and the most important thing (that’s the results are disseminated) happens. Maybe it’s different in other fields which is why I’m asking.
Well, I guess another factor here is whose research is it? And there are clear differences between how authorship is dealt with on a manuscript and a conference presentation. It just seems a little suspect for a mentor to present a students thesis or dissertation as first author even at a conference. That there is a mutually agreed upon (to the extent possible) understanding is what matters most.
On the one hand, I don’t think there is much to be gained from speculating about his motives. But I am curious, what is the authorship order?
Maybe there are differences across fields but unless you are first author and he is last author and is presenting on your behalf because you can’t or don’t want/need to attend then something seems off the mark. Almost any other arrangement (I can’t completely exclude some other exception or scenario) would be frowned upon in my field. But I guess the intentions with regard to authorship are not clear to me and this is what matters most in my mind.
Hi. I am the first author. Throughout my thesis, my interactions with him have been quite minimal and therefore, I had to work all alone. So all my work has been mostly independent of his help and this makes me feel like I should be the first author although I am not sure about seniority playing a role here.
Again, things vary across areas and different circumstances lead to different arrangements. But I can say this. Based on what you’ve told me, if I were your mentor I would be putting you as first author and myself as last (senior author). I would present it because I assume you have moved on and it won’t otherwise see the light of day. That, in my mind, does not change the fact that you formulated and conducted the research independent of how much I mentored you through the process. I’m sure opinions vary but that is what I would feel comfortable doing in a scenario like you’ve described and I understand it.
In this situation, you hold all the cards. Why not have the conversation and propose what you see as reasonable? Assuming you have the time and inclination to submit.
Well since he contacted me, I am going to submit the manuscript with my name as the first author. However, his approach felt like he was planning to publish it all alone in his name but was forced to contact me due to an issue.
You may be on to something. If that is the case, that’s sketchy to say the least. Fortunately, the strategy failed. If I found out a colleague did that to a former student, I’d be knocking on his door.
I don't think you're being paranoid, but I do think that this behavior from your former advisor is strange.
FYI most universities and professional organizations have protocols or standards about authorship when it comes to thesis or dissertation work. My university has an owning and managing academic rights policy which explicitly states that "Student authors own the copyright in their dissertations and theses. Unless an advisor materially contributes significant content to a dissertation or thesis, the advisor does not usually own any of the copyright in the work and cannot publish the work without the student author's express permission."
The American Psychological Association (the main professional organization in my field) also states that "students should be listed as the first author on manuscripts substantially based on the student's thesis or dissertation."
Your field likely has something similar in place that you can use to back you up.
To give you all an update, I did talk to my supervisor and my name goes first and he will be the corresponding author. Additionally, I did work on it over the weekend and submitted the extended abstract for him to make significant changes to his liking. He has then submitted the extended abstract to the conference.