Debbie Knight

A day in the life: December 3, 2011

In research log on December 3, 2011 at 10:31 am

From time to time, I will give a glimpse into the “glamorous” life of a research associate and talk about what I’m doing in the lab on a particular day. These entries I will call “A Day in the Life…”

Back in June, I wrote about the darker side of research and how a supposed collaborator decided to go solo and write a manuscript on the very research we were working on together. We only found out after the manuscript had been accepted by a scientific journal for publication. Well, the article has officially been published in the December issue of the journal.

Part of me did not want to look at it because the whole situation just makes me seething mad.

But like a train wreck, I had to look.

Curiosity killed the scientist?

I had to see what was included in this article, to see if it will affect the data we will parcel into our own manuscript.

Because our supposed (now former) collaborator is a clinician, the published paper does have a clinical bend. So that was a small piece of good news. The lab I work in is a basic science lab, currently focused on ferreting out the mechanisms behind this particular disease process.

As I looked through the article, thinking back on our group discussions we had during the collaboration, I couldn’t help but think this article could have been a much stronger and more complete story had we combined our findings into a single document. It would have been in both our interests to combine our efforts to pool our patient specimens (increasing the number of patients in the study) and execute a more intensive, robust examination of the proteins that may be involved in the disease.

There were no arguments, no falling out, just impatience to get at least some of the story out — no desire to wait while we chased down the details of our collective observations. (sigh).

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Or perhaps I should say, that’s how the collaboration “cookie” crumbles.

The good news is that after my lab completes a few more experiments, we’ll submit our own results to the peer-review process and have the opportunity to tell more of the story. Granted, we’ll have to modify how we tell that story since the collaborator used a few images that stole some thunder – but we’ll get it out there.

In the meantime, while I work on cranking out those experiments, I might look for a photo of our former collaborator and fashion a pinata or dart board – you know, for something to do during breaks.


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