Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Credit where credit's due

Disputes over who truly deserves the credit — or blame — for published work can result in bruised egos, damaged careers and court cases. Helen Pearson looks at ways to avoid fights over authorship.

A flurry of squabbles about high-profile biological research is prompting scientists to revisit a perennially touchy subject: how should credit for scientific findings be assigned?

In recent months, a panel on research integrity at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, scolded cloning expert Gerald Schatten for his limited contribution to papers he co-authored with a South Korean team. Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh has been criticized for taking most of the credit in 1997 for the cloning of Dolly the sheep. And a co-author has accused Alison Murdoch, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, of hogging the credit for an advance in cloning human embryos (see ‘Cloning clashes’).


  1. 1

    Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S. & de Vries, R. Nature 435, 737–738 (2005).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Kirby, K & Houle, F. A. Phys. Today 57, 42–46 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Wilmut, I., Schnieke, A. E., McWhir, J., Kind, A. J. & Campbell, K. H. S. Nature 385, 810–813 (1997).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Stojkovic, M. et al. Reprod. Biomed. Online 11, 226–231 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Hwang, W. S. et al. Science 308, 1777–1783 (2005).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Science 311, 335 (2006).

  7. 7

    Lee, B. C. et al. Nature 436, 604 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Disgraced cloner's ally is cleared of misconduct

Chemistry claim provokes strong reaction

Physician launches public protest over medical Nobel

Woo Suk Hwang special

Dolly the Sheep web focus

Related external links

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors – Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts

Nobel prize

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Credit where credit's due. Nature 440, 591–592 (2006).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing