Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

Reader asks: 

How have you dealt with people taking credit for your work? I assume this has happened to you. For example, rebranding your research as theirs, seeking your input then cutting you out of a proposal, taking all the credit for committee work, claiming original development of shared course content, etc.
I don’t think people have stolen my stuff, although I might totally be too oblivious. I have been dropped from centers proposals once or twice after the budget got slashed, even though the center leadership certainly liked having a female PI and a theorist on the proposal for the sake of diversity and expertise completeness during the review stage. That was kind of shitty, but in a completely expected way, if that makes sense? It didn’t hurt because I wasn’t really surprised. As they say, key to happiness are low (loooooow) expectations.
When it comes to courses, I share all my materials with other instructors who ask for them, and they can use them or not as they see fit. I don’t use PPT slides, but do share lecture notes, HW, exams, and the codes I write for student assignments and/or clarifications. I have never been in a situation where someone took credit for co-teaching mostly because I’ve (mercifully) never co-taught. I do occasionally get asked to do something of the sort, which I flatly refuse to do, because I think it’s generally stupid and needlessly painful. If we offer multiple sections of a course, they can be different and moving at slightly different paces.  Coordination is just an exercise in pain for the faculty (who, let’s face it, all think they know best — I am certainly guilty of this) with no particular benefit to students. Luckily, I have plenty of teaching accolades so at this point no one has much of a leg to stand on when it comes to pushing me to do something I don’t want to do teaching-wise. 
I do get upset by people not citing my work when they’ve clearly read it. As in, instead of citing my work published in paper N on a topic, they cite around it, like papers N-1 and N-2, and then go on to basically duplicate what I’ve done in paper N. This drives me up the fucking wall. I don’t think this is a practice aimed against me in particular. It is simply a practice of people downplaying the work of others in order to make their own contribution look more novel and important than it actually is. It is pretty widespread, by the way; as editor, I see it all the time. I wish people had more professional integrity, but when the publication pressure is on, cracks in people’s ethics appear. I understand it, even though I hate it. 
As for committee work, I kind of lay low these days as much as I can. Thank heavens for Zoom meetings! In the past, I was on some very time-consuming committees, but generally felt they were worthwhile. I can’t recall credit misappropriation, but I might just be misremembering. I can’t really say I’ve worked with people who are credit hogs in this respect, perhaps because I am not really itching to do more than absolutely necessary or get credit for anything in particular. 
What say you, blogosphere? Has someone taken credit for your work in the past? How have you dealt with it? 


  1. I gave all materials for a large undergrad class to a junior colleague who then used the materials “as is” for years. Come promotion time, they wrote in their statement that they “revamped the course” and “built the materials from the ground up”. I won’t work with the person anymore, on anything. If someone is going to lie about teaching, imagine what they’ll do for research…

  2. I used to work in a field where there were rather few publication outlets, all controlled by the same editor. One of my journal papers was rejected, only to have big chunks of it appear a year or two later in a conference with the editor’s student as first author and the editor as last author.

    I complained to the journal, but all they did was send my complaint to the editor!

    I quit that field and moved to a totally different one.

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