Case Study
A publication dilemma

As his first major grant is coming to an end, several important elements of Dr. Sanjay K.’s research suddenly fall into place. The last series of experiments his graduate student ran clearly link the gene they are studying to a particular type of cancer. His postdoc’s work on the proteins associated with this gene could pave the way for possible cures. With these results in hand, he is finally ready to make a strong case for continued support and, happily, his pending promotion. All he has to do now is publish the results.

A week later, Sanjay’s optimism starts to fade. As might have been expected, his department chair was delighted with his progress, but then suggested that the first paper announcing the results come out under her name to give it broader circulation. Meanwhile, his postdoc and graduate student have gotten into a heated debate about the order their names should appear on the paper; the university’s public affairs office has asked for a summary of the results for a press release; and the technology transfer office has called telling him to hold all publications until they can evaluate the commercial potential of his work.

  • What should Sanjay do?
  • Which of these problems should Sanjay tackle first?
  • Is there anything he could have done to assure that things went more smoothly
  • when he was ready to publish his results?