“Getting appropriate credit for one’s work sometimes can be a difficult, drawn-out affair. This has special significance for junior or marginal researchers, such as PhD students, research assistants and junior research fellows.
In 1943, Albert Schatz was a young PhD student consumed with finding a drug that could be used against the deadly disease tuberculosis. He discovered the antibiotic streptomycin and was first author of publications reporting it. The head of the lab where Schatz worked, Selman Waksman, then began to take more of the credit, highlighting his own role to reporters while not mentioning that Schatz was in the same building. Schatz and Waksman jointly signed the patent for streptomycin. Schatz found out a few years later that Waksman had a secret agreement to provide information to a pharmaceutical company and was receiving large royalties from the patent. Schatz sued and was declared co-discoverer with a small share of the royalties. Waksman’s self-promotion paid off not just in money but also in scientific fame when he–but not Schatz–received the 1952 Nobel Prize for medicine. It turned out that the Nobel committee had never heard of Schatz. Only in the past decade have historians begun recognising his role.
In day-to-day research the stakes are seldom as high as this, but the passions aroused by claims over credit are just as acute. Credit is, after all, the basis for getting recognition, jobs, promotions and awards.”
Brian Martin. Academic credit where it’s due. Campus Review, Vol. 7, No. 21, 4-10 June 1997, p. 11.