I want to start this post with a heart-felt congratulations to the team from Roslin and their paper in BMC Biology “A gene expression atlas of the domestic pig”, which has some really cool science in it, and which describes a fantastic resource that will be used by scientists throughout the world for years to come. Well done guys!
What you probably don’t know is that the paper almost won an award in the annual BMC Research Awards – you can see that here, where the paper came runner up in the “Computational and high-throughput studies in genomics and systems biology” category.
I’m particularly proud of Alison Downing, who works in ARK-Genomics, the facility which I am director of – well done Alison! Alison, like everyone else in the facility, works very hard to enable large scale genetics and genomics projects to deliver; she doesn’t work 9-5, Mon-Fri, she works the hours that the projects demand. Often here early in the morning, late at night and at the weekend, Alison is the embodiment of a facility scientist – dedicated, skilled, hard working – and completely and utterly under-appreciated by those who use the facility!
Acknowledge and celebrate the people who do the work
As you can see from the Pig Atlas paper, Alison was co-author on the paper. This is how it should be, in my opinion. Having processed 100s of samples and microarrays, without her, the paper would not have been possible.
Now, this is a Roslin paper and Alison is a Roslin scientist, but what you may not know is that no-one at Roslin gets a special deal from ARK-Genomics. They pay the same fees as everyone else. They wait in the same queue. There is no price reduction and no queue jumping.
More often than not, when people pay us to process NGS, genotyping or microarray samples, our scientists don’t end up on the resulting paper; quite often, we don’t even get an acknowledgement – and the question has to be why the hell not?
The way I see it is this: if the work the facility carries out had actually been done in your own lab, would those lab members get on your author list? If not on the author list, would they get into the acknowledgements? If the answer is yes, then you should be putting the facility scientist on your publication – full stop. No argument.
“But I paid for the work!” I hear you say – sure, and you also pay the people in your own lab! What’s the difference? Plus, the last time I checked, the author list for a paper is supposed to represent a list of people who did the research and produced the paper – there is no caveat about whether you paid for it or not.
So come on. Lets celebrate the people who make the genomics revolution possible, the hard working scientists who take your samples and turn them into data, the people who make your science happen – hurray for the facility scientists!