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Just a Researcher in the Crowd

Genomics papers can have author lists that seem to stretch down the block, but much of the credit is often awarded to the first and senior authors. Those in the middle of the list — researchers who might've contributed key bioinformatics analyses to the project — can be overlooked, the Chronicle of Higher Education says.

"The people in the middle are essential, and they don't get recognition," Arturo Casadevall from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University tells the Chronicle.

This is a particular problem for new investigators, especially computational biologists, as they seek to stand out from their peers in a competitive job market, the Chronicle adds.

It notes that there have been some moves to change how credit is awarded, both by tenure committees and journals. For instance, at the US National Institutes of Health, researchers involved in team science projects receive the same credit for a middle authorship as they do for a senior authorship when they come up for review. And journals like PLOS are classifying authors based on their contribution to the work.

The current way of assigning credit is "based on previous models of science, and science isn't like that anymore," notes Cassidy Sugimoto from Indiana University at Bloomington. She adds that if researchers are "truly critical to science then we should value them. And I don't think we're doing that in the current system."