Genome Technology blogs about the genome sequencing of Candidatus Korarchaeum cryptofilum, which appears to be an early-branching archaeon. Probably very interesting, although archaea are rarely the focus of my interest, I am mostly working on sequences from a species that should properly be called Candidatus Homo sapiens.
What caught my eye, though, was the statment on author contributions (isn’t this the part of a paper that everybody reads first?). Anyway, this is what they say:
Author contributions: J.G.E., P.R., M.K., and K.O.S. designed research; J.G.E., M.P., B.P.H., A.L., E.G., K.B., and G.W. performed research; J.G.E., M.P., D.E.G., K.S.M., Y.W., L.R., C.B.-A.,V.K., I.A., E.V.K., P.H., N.K., and K.O.S. analyzed data; and J.G.E., D.E.G., E.V.K., and K.O.S. wrote the paper.
You can probably guess what I am hinting at. Seven people “performed research”, while 12 people “analyzed data”, with only a small overlap. It is no surprise that a genome sequencing paper needs a lot of people doing data analysis – this is what genome papers are all about. So far I had assumed that the analysis of genome data should be considered as ‘research’, probably more so than cutting chromosomes into pieces, or operating lab robots and sequencing machines. Apparently, some people see this differently.
In hindsight, I should have known better. At some point in the past, I used to work in a research institute (a very nice place, by the way) with a revealing organization of their phone directory. If memory serves me, they had individual pages entitled “Research group X” and “Research group Y”, listing the PI, postdocs, and students. At the end, they had a page with no particular heading, which held entries for 1) Janitor, 2) Workshop 3) Graphics studio, 4) Bioinformatics. You see, we are just one of these facilities …