Authorship and cooperation
The cooperation between individual specialists and groups within the framework of academic research increases the effectiveness at times and, as a rule, positively affects the quality of the results of the work. Global cooperation allows stationary laboratories to obtain data from remote parts of the planet, opens opportunities for working with rare equipment, provides ways for intellectual exchange and many other advantages over isolated activities of one scientist or research group.
However, when it comes to dividing the benefits of teamwork, it becomes necessary to determine and evaluate the contribution of individual participants. It is impossible to do this with absolute accuracy and depth, because all new scientific developments, in one way or another, rely on a body of knowledge collected by the community for tens or even hundreds of years. In addition, a number of people indirectly participate in research from engineers who developed the necessary equipment to those who subsequently help to formalize the publication and bring it to the public.
If it is a question of potential sensation and publication in influential peer-reviewed publications – the procedure risks developing into a conflict of interests with all the attendant troubles.
In the academic community, publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals serve as proof of the productivity of a single specialist and provide an important competitive advantage in finding work or funding. In such conditions a worthy qualified specialist can be behind the scenes, advancing the interests of higher or more eminent colleagues.
Published materials were the culmination of several decades of research conducted in the second half of the XIX century.
1869 – Swiss physiologist, biologist and histologist Johann Friedrich Mischer first identified the so-called “nuclein” inside human leukocytes. His main goal was the proteins of white blood cells, but in the course of his work he found in the core of the cell some kind of protein-unlike compound with a high content of phosphorus.
1889 – Richard Altmann first used the term “nucleic acid” and found a way to isolate nucleic acids without protein impurities. On the basis of his methods, their main constituents-nucleotides-were obtained and determined.
1901 – Hugo de Vries’s book “Mutational Theory” was published, where the term “mutation” was used and interpreted. After the publication of the book, the term “mutation” became widespread.
1908 – Archibald Garrod established a link between nucleic acid as a carrier of genetic information and enzymes that are encoded by this compound. This discovery shed light on the phenomenon of hereditary transmission of diseases.
1909 – T. Morgan, together with K. Bridges, G. Meller and A. Stertevant, formulated and substantiated the elementary units of heredity and variability – genes. Subsequently, this concept was called “Morganism” and formed the basis of the chromosome theory of heredity.
1921 – Fedor Levin formulated a hypothesis about the tetranucleotide structure of DNA, which later turned out to be erroneous.
1925 Nadson and Filippov established a connection between hereditary changes and X-ray radiation, laying the foundation for subsequent approaches to the concept of a gene.
1928 – K. Koltsov formulated the concept of matrix synthesis, later developed into an understanding of the mechanisms of replication and transcription.
1935 – Klein and Tannhauser were able to isolate and crystallize four nucleotides forming a DNA molecule, which served as the foundation for the subsequent detailed study of the structure of these compounds.
1936 – A. Belozersky discovered DNA molecules in plant cells. After this discovery, it became clear that DNA is present in all groups of living organisms.
1940 – A group from Cambridge with Alexander Todd at the head described in detail the three-dimensional molecular structure of nucleotides and nucleosides. Subsequently, Todd was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contribution to this area of research. Meanwhile, American biochemist Erwin Chargaff established regularities in the content of different types of nucleotides in the composition of nucleic acids. These patterns were called the Chargaff Rule.
1942 – Thorbjørn Oscar Casperson and Jean Brachet independently found evidence that RNA molecules play a key role in protein synthesis.
1945 – The work of Oswald Avery and his colleagues was dedicated to the role of DNA in the transmission of hereditary information. Subsequently, Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase continued this work, proving the hereditary functions of DNA in the classical experiment of 1952, named in their honor by the experiment of Hershey-Chase.
1950 – American Linus Polling suggested that the DNA molecule has a spiral structure. His ideas about the α-helical structure became fundamental in the work of Watson and Crick.
The results of the work of Chartaff, Polling and other studies, in turn, became the necessary foundation for the revolutionary discovery of the secondary structure of DNA, the authors of which are generally considered Jim Watson and Francis Crick of Cambridge.
A breakthrough in the work of the Cambridge group occurred in February 1953. In a brief informal report on the results of X-ray crystallographic studies conducted by Roslyn Franklin, the missing data necessary for the mathematical model constructed by Crickus were contained. Passing through the hands of several colleagues, the report fell into the Cambridge laboratory.
This moment was one of the arguments in the attempts to accuse Watson and Crick of unethical behavior. Despite the fact that they did not inform the Royal College staff and did not ask Franklin for permission to interpret its findings, the report was not confidential, and therefore one can not blame Cambridge for unfair information.
It is worth noting that the same important figures were presented as early as 1951 at a small seminar at King’s College. Jim Watson was in the hall, but missed the opportunity to catch such useful data and give the Scream a chance to make a breakthrough 15 months earlier.
Blockchain technologies will help the research centers to keep all this information in one transparent chain. This technology will help to solve many important problems, connected to the authorship and plagiarism.