Professors Big and Small


A scenario that covers ethical issues that arise when a student is not listed author on a manuscript.


You are a fourth year graduate student and have been working with Professor BigProject for all four years. Professor BigProject is currently completing a manuscript for publication and is to be first author on it. You are to be listed as sixth author.

Your friend, Lyle, who is a second year student in the same department is working with Professor SmallProject. They are also completing a paper. Professor SmallProject is to be first author and Lyle is to be second author.

  • How do you see the differences in the relative prominence of each of you on the author lists?
  • Is there any more information you would like about the situation? If so, how would you go about getting it?

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 Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item.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

Susan Hinze. . Professors Big and Small. Online Ethics Center. DOI: