Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Mine! No, Mine!

When a postdoc and a PI disagree on when to publish their data, who has the final say? Usually, it's the PI — but in two recent cases, says BioTechniques' David Pittman, the postdocs published data without their PIs' consent. In one case, Purdue University postdoc Jiasheng Diao was working in the lab of X-ray crystallographer Miriam Hasson. When Hasson died in 2006, control of her data passed to her husband, biochemist David Sanders. "Three years later, that protein structure data finally made its way into a paper in the Journal of Bacteriology that listed Diao and Hasson as co-authors," Pittman says. "The only problem was that it was published without Sanders’ consent." That paper was then retracted, as was a second paper published in 2009 that also used Hasson's data without Sanders' permission. And in a case involving Baylor College of Medicine researchers, postdoc Hui Chai published several papers on work done in the lab of Changyi Chen, without obtaining Chen's permission, Pittman adds.

"Both recent cases involving post-docs who publish data without consent of the principal investigator highlight a growing trend of insubordination in the lab," Pittman says. University of Washington School of Medicine researcher Ferric Fang tells Pittman that data ownership issues are complex, and that "Post-docs may understandably feel that data they obtained in experiments belong to them." However, Pittman says, work done in labs funded by the US National Institutes of Health is considered to belong to the university or institution, and the person who has control of it is the person the university or institution appoints. To prevent future mishaps, Pittman says, schools should provide better instruction to trainees on data ownership, and journals should be more "explicit" on authorship rights.

(HT: In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe)

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.