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Women in Science

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Video clip: Eleanor has found interdisciplinary work can present both challenges and potential solutions to the problems of who is first or last author of a paper.

And in terms of writing the papers have you had any issues with who's, who's a co-author, or the order of authorship?

Touch wood it's nothing too serious. It usually - it's solved simply by having multiple first authors. That's usually the problem. It's usually where you're trying to be fair to your students and making sure, you know that they get the recognition they all deserve, and they can put it on their CV. It's problematic in an interdisciplinary field because the engineer will have done a huge amount on setting up the equipment, the biologist would have done a huge amount getting the cells ready, and that sort of thing and they both deserve to share that credit. But obviously someone has to actually go first. And the same to some extent with senior authors. Again, you just say we are co-corresponding authors, or similar. And you get around it that way. And as I say - touch wood - all the people I work with are very friendly and sensible about this. I know other people have terrible, terrible problems with this.

So when you say that you're co-corresponding authors, so that makes you both a first…

Ah last.

Oh, because you're…

Yeah so you want to be first when you're a researcher and you want to be a last when you're in charge of the group. Yes, and it does vary from field to field as well, so. So in chemistry my colleagues there always want to go last. They don't care if we're co-corresponding, they don't care if we get a little asterisk, they've got to be last. Okay, you know, it's fine - in engineering, we don't care. Whereas in other fields it's the other way around. It goes alphabetically, so.