Credit and Time Pressure


A scenario that covers ethical issues that arise when an author's name is left off of a paper.


Sen is a graduate student who has been working for Professor Bing, building an apparatus to make a particular photo-excited probe measurement on semiconductor devices. Sen and Bing have submitted a preliminary paper on the method to the Conference on Semiconductor Device Characterization.

Another student, Jag, tries the probe on his device, and, with Sen's help, gets some spectacular results. Jag's supervisor, Professor Deadline, is very excited about the results and immediately suggests submitting a paper to the Device Research Conference, which has a submission deadline in a few days. Jag quickly prepares the text of a draft abstract and gives it to Deadline for editing. Deadline makes final changes in the abstract and prepares to ship it by overnight express to the conference referees. Deadline shows it to Jag while they wait for the express service pick-up. Jag sees that only the two of them are listed as authors, and feels uneasy.

  • What do Sen and Bing deserve, and why? Would it make a difference if Sen and Bing had already published a journal paper on the subject?
  • What can and should Jag and Deadline do?

Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant.

You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Scenarios for Ethics Modules in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.

Stephen Senturia, Caroline Whitbeck. . Credit and Time Pressure. Online Ethics Center. DOI: