Credit in a Grant Proposal


A scenario that covers ethical issues that arise a professor incorporates the tables and figures of a student in a grant proposal.


You are a Ph.D. student working with Professor Pi. You are near the completion of your project and have prepared a paper for publication. Professor Pi has hired another Ph.D. student, Kino, who will continue on the same project after you graduate. Professor Pi would like to renew his funding for that project and prepares a grant proposal with the help of Kino. Professor Pi has an electronic version of your paper and copies many of the figures and some paragraphs from the paper and puts them into the grant proposal. You have presented some of the work on which your paper is based at a conference. That presentation is cited in the grant proposal, but only in the Background and Significance section. No indication is given that you are responsible for 95% of the figures and about half of the text for the grant proposal. You are concerned that whoever will read that proposal may attribute to Kino all the work presented in the Progress Report section because Kino is the person for whom the funding is sought. You also worry that you will be submitting exactly the same figures and text when you publish your paper.

  • What is the status of a grant proposal as a report of research?
  • What credit should a student contributor to a grant proposal be given in the proposal? Would the situation be different if your advisor had made a presentation of the lab's work to an industry group, rather than summarizing it in a proposal to a government funding agency?

Your roommate tells you that when his advisor is copying the work of a student who will not be getting any financial help from a grant, he puts the name of the student in the Collaborators section (for whom no funding is sought).

  • What is the range of acceptable variation among faculty members in the way they credit their students' work? How much does it matter in a grant proposal whether the contributing student will not be continuing to do the proposed work?

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 Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item.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.