Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deceptive publication records

So several of us in my research group, frustrated with the what feel like is a complete lack of papers coming out of our group and our PI's snail-like pace in reading them decided to see how no one has gotten mad at him for not publishing more (admittedly, he's tenured and has been for awhile, but GiantU doesn't tend to be a school for resting on one's laurels). The answer seems to be as a very minor collaborator on projects none of us were even remotely aware of. Collaboration can be a fantastic thing, but in this case, it really seems to be at the detriment of his own students. Only 1/3rd of the papers he's published since coming to GiantU from OtherGiantU have one or more of his graduate students on them. So overall, his numbers look fine (though not spectacular), but we aren't getting the papers.

I see a lot of people giving graduate students advice about selecting advisors reminding them to check publication records. However, just looking at how frequently the PI has published can be deceptive. Check the other authors: are they even at the same institution? Even better, check the student's publication records. While some fields may typically not publish before graduation, almost every department website I've looked at is out of date, so some of those students may have already graduated.

Also, a question I asked on Twitter earlier: in your group, are things like papers and grants announced? This blog was triggered by me finding a recently published paper where my advisor was a collaborator and one of the students who has since left the group was also a coauthor. I had no idea this paper existed until it popped up in my search. My PI recently was awarded an experimental grant, which we only discovered because we brought in a new student to work on a brand-new project and there was a sudden equipment buying binge.

Am I just being paranoid, or is this all totally normal practice in science?

1 comment:

  1. This is totally normal for the senior professors I know. My own advisor didn't even have group meetings, just individual meetings with us, so we didn't even know what the other people in our own group were doing unless we talked with each other. Some of the younger professors have lists on their website of group news in general or a publication list in particular and write down every publication soon after it happens.