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Co-authors

From the LabLit short story series

João Ramalho-Santos 25 April 2011

www.lablit.com/article/661

I’ve tried to recruit some students for my lab, but the only ones willing to join are the ones I wouldn’t trust to operate a microwave

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: August 15 2005 16:58
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear Freida

Thanks so much for the invitation! It was really a treat to see the old lab moving forward full throttle. Sylvia would have been so proud! Congratulations again on the appointment, absolutely deserved, absolutely the right call! Finding all my cDNA boxes was awesome...except for the dates! Time does fly. It is the most fun with science by far ever since the fateful decision to leave my position there and take this job. But hey, as you know there was more than science involved, and its no use mumbling about it now...

I have been reading a lot and looking through piles of stuff since I got back. Can you believe I hadn’t unpacked most of it? Notebooks, CDs with all the confocal images, sequencing data, even some old blot film and electron microscopy negatives...God, can you remember back before all-digital? So, as you can see, I did take your suggestion seriously.
You WERE serious, right ;-)?

Best
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: August 30 2006 14.14
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear F.

Thanks so much for hosting me these past months! Getting back to the bench was the best thing that happened ever since S. hired me as a post-doc. I know how that sounds, but I also know you know what I mean...

I’m going through all the data to see what we can write up. But first I have to find out what kind of schedule they have arranged for me here.

Love
K.

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: October 06 2007 08.32
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Hey you!

Sorry it takes me so long to write back. I’ve had loads of teaching and the funding here has slowed to a trickle. I’ve submitted grants to basically any agency I can think of! I’ve also tried to recruit some students for my mini-lab, but the only ones willing to join are the ones I wouldn’t trust to operate a microwave. The fact that we are not really expected to be a competitive at a top level kind of turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

As for the draft, I agree fully, it’s not terribly convincing. Take a look at my comments (attached). Do the experiments planned out look feasible to you? If I can consolidate my duties here I might be able to hop on a plane and crank them out!

Love
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: March 19 2008 06.47
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Boy, has it really been that long? Sorry, sorry, sorry! Here is the manuscript. Don’t know when I’ll be able to return, working on that....

Kisses,
K
PS- Got a grant! My course is the most popular in the syllabus!

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: April 02 2008 13.07
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear Freida

Thanks for the comments and I understand your position completely. Although I think it has its merits, I realize the manuscript is below what Sylvia’s/your lab normally puts out. I was hoping you might consider a lower tiered journal, just to get it out of the way. I know the title is a bit grandiose and that we need more data, but it’s the only real science I’ve done in the past three years or so, and I can’t live off my post-doc riches forever. But I do understand.

Also: thanks for the offer. But let’s be realistic: the project can’t possibly be completed with me coming over for a couple of months at a time. I’m always trying to find stuff, and it seems as if I have to pack as soon as I’m up to speed. On another sour note the Department is not particularly thrilled to grant more leaves of absence. After all I was hired to boost research here, not go do it elsewhere. The last trip used up all my vacation time, and it shows in the mirror. Friends and family are not too thrilled either. Do you think there is any possibility one of your technicians could perhaps keep a few things going while we figure this out?

Your tired friend
K.

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: April 21 2008 02.55
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Freida

You don’t have to explain anything. Forget I asked.

Sincerely,
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: May 09 2008 09.02
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear Freida

I’ve been thinking about our little conundrum. Unpublished data does no one any favors. My grant and visibility here have allowed for the recruitment of a few good Masters and PhD students, and the lab is getting there. Nothing major, but I do feel I’m in a better place these days. So I was thinking...One of my students has a project related to what I was trying to do in your lab. Of course it doesn’t overlap, how could it with our resources? So perhaps the student could go to your lab to finish things up? It’s not like either of us needs the data for a thesis. ;-). I’m attaching something of a proposal, based on our old manuscript (remember that???) and what we discussed was needed to finish it. Luckily no one in the field has access to this particular sample collection, huh? ;-). Maybe we could also think of submitting a joint grant at some stage... Think about it.

Best to all
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: May 13 2008 11.12
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear F.

First of all thanks for the offer, I really appreciate it. But, as I told you on the phone, the only way I can arrange this for any extended time-period is using vacation time, and that’s out of the question. I’m not 20 anymore...God, I’m not even 30. Yet! ;-). Also, we’ve gone down that road before, and look where it got us. The only way for this to work is to have someone on the case 24/7. So, and coming to your second issue, our students may not go through the stringent selection and training procedures you are used to, but we don’t exactly select them off the internet. I would never send you someone I didn’t completely trust, knew was trained right, capable of fitting in and doing the job. Consider that the bench you were saving for me could be his bench.

Love
K.

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: May 20 2008 08.55
To: freida1@abpu.edu

So how about this: I’ll be town for the Society Annual Meeting and then the Gordon Conference, I can squeeze the week in between and help the student fit in. You can judge for yourself, if you think it won’t work, I’ll take him back with me!
K.

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: September 25 2008 18.13
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Freida

Please give it some time...Away from home, culture-shock, language barrier...He IS better than this, I swear! Pretty please?

Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: December 31 2008 12.39
To: freida1@abpu.edu

F
Can’t tell you how happy I am! I knew you’d like him!
K

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: October 11 2009 17.09
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Hey Freida!

I’ve finally had the chance of looking through the data! Exciting stuff! And all it took was someone on the case 24/7...Glad all the effort paid off and the kid came through! I knew he would. Editors of the Big Journals salivate over stuff like this! Attached are some ideas as to how we could follow through on a few things to make it tighter. Some of the experiments the kid did here actually fit in quite nicely (also attached). This is so cool! Finally!

Kisses!
K

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: January 03 2010 20.00
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Hey Freida

Happy New Year! How is everything? We’ve been having problems with our server, so I’m wondering if I may have missed any emails...I was curious as to what you thought of my suggestions. I believe we are really close and I’m so glad to be a part of it. But it would be dumb not to maintain the proper focus. Maybe we could arrange a conference call to discuss how the project should proceed from here? Email often feels inappropriate and distant.

Also, I haven’t heard from our heroic student in a while, he didn’t come over for the holidays. I’m sure he’s hard at work, but his PhD thesis committee is on my case for an update. His fellowship is ending, and he should be thinking of finishing up.

Take care,
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: March 09 2010 10.32
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear Freida

Thanks for the email. Of course it was very generous of you to pay the kid’s salary after his fellowship ran out. I’m sure this will help wrap up the project, although I’m not quite sure at what stage it is anymore...Frankly, I’m baffled by your behavior. I always knew this could be a big story. Why not cherish it, now that it really is? All the work was done in your lab, and mostly by people working under you, that much is understood. I know you have responsibilities and expectations to meet, but surely you’ll agree I played a role...How can acknowledging us possibly degrade you?

Best Regards
Karla
PS - Salary is not the only issue. He has to defend his PhD here soon, or forfeit the whole thing. We have different rules - you can ask him if you don’t believe me (I’m sure you will). Of course he could just enroll in graduate school there and go through the whole boot-camp again, presuming he meets your selection standards. That way he can think of getting a real job some time in the next decade, with you paying his salary (and tuition) for the duration.

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: June 25 2010 02.10
To: saucykitten@genericemail.com

Dear Freida

I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize this address, and the email got filtered.

I know you don’t want to hear another one of my “this would never have happened with Sylvia” laments, I too realize times have changed. Did I say anything about the grant you just submitted? But I put a lot of work into this project, and believe this needs to be acknowledged in the manuscript, and not just in the acknowledgements (great framing and writing job, by the way).

Best
Karla

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: June 26 2010 04.22
To: saucykitten@genericemail.com

Freida

Of course he told me about the grant! Of course he showed me the manuscript! I’m his PhD supervisor, for crying out loud! He also gave a talk on the whole thing for his Thesis Committee. How else is the kid supposed to get his degree? He signed a confidentiality agreement, I’m not disputing that! But YOU also drafted the collaboration protocol stating he was coming over under my direct supervision... I know: you were afraid he’d screw up. But it says what it says. Come to think of it, what it says is basically the truth. Can’t we just move on from here, like sensible people?

Karla

From: KarlaT1974@genericemail.com
Date: July 04 2010 06.02
To: saucykitten@genericemail.com

Oh, I’ll take authorship! Send over the forms and I’ll sign every goddamned one!! I may be proud, but not stupid. And please cut that condescending “only true contributions should be recognized” crap! What is this, a lame attempt to shame me out of the paper? Who do you think you are?? Who do you think you are talking to?

You want to discuss Publication Ethics????!!! FINE! Here’s my lesson:

Some robot technician may have repeated all the initial experiments to remove any trace of our collaboration, but I still have the draft of the first manuscript...remember that one? With basically the same title? You should, your dismissive comments are all over it! I’m sure some geek can trace it back to your office computer! What looks suspiciously like Figure 1b through 1k, Figure 2a, Figure 3 and the top of Tables I and II of the current Manuscript are all in my original files, dated years ago! I have copies of everything I ever did in YOUR lab, and I’m sure I can find plenty of people to back me up! So just hang on to those funny ideas and watch me contact editors and ethical review boards! You should know me by now: am I bluffing? Who has the most to lose here?!

Either way: MAKE MY DAY!!!!!

From: kt@switku.edu
Date: July 22 2010 22.27
To: freida1@abpu.edu

Dear Professor Freida L.

For submission purposes, and as discussed at length previously in the context of our ongoing collaboration, I hereby acknowledge that co-corresponding authorship of the Manuscript recognizes my true contribution to the work.

Yours Sincerely,
Professor Karla T.

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© 2011 João Ramalho-Santos

For Paula I. Moreira

Other articles by João Ramalho-Santos