I was just told by a junior level faculty member at a different institution who doesn't know me well at all that I have too many first authored pubs (compared to non-first authored) and that makes him think I "don't play well with others" when looking at my CV. I am currently ABD and will be on the job market this fall, and I'm wondering whether this is an actual concern. My primary mentors do not seem concerned about this at all b/c I have had a number of papers in top journals in my field. I have in the low double digits for peer-reviewed papers, and 90% are first authored. Now I don't know what to think, and don't know how to remedy this in 6 months, other than begging people to put me on their papers…
Date: 25 Jan 2016 21:31
Number of posts: 8
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This is pretty ridiculous, and I say that as someone who is constantly looking to trash applicants who might not "play well with others" (there are too many qualified people in the pool and I cannot deal with selfish people who won't pull their weight in the department or in a collaboration.)
If you are concerned, you can ask your letter writers to say something about collegiality/collaboration.
too many 1st authored? absurd
too many solo authored? could raise some eyebrows depending on circumstances.
Under which circumstances might too many solo authored pubs raise eyebrows?
Ridiculous — ignore the person who said that to you. One of my strengths as an applicant (back when I was on the job market a few years ago) is that I had mostly first-authored publications, indicating that I took the lead on several successful projects. As a faculty member now, some of my tenured colleagues have indicated that they like to see first-authored publications from junior faculty, including publications that are not co-authored with former advisors.
Many solo-authored publications might lead some people (not me) to think a researcher is anti-collaboration.
Thanks everyone for your input. It sounds like this person is in the minority with his opinion - I just hope there aren't too many others like him out there!
just to follow up on my too many solo-authored comment:
Questions this *could* raise:
where is the advisor?
has the development of programmatic research suffered from a lack of supervision/training?
is the impact of the solo authored work tempered by a lack of collaboration=supervision?
Will this candidate effectively supervise/publish with their own students?
Personally, if I saw an applicant with many solo authored publications, particularly coming from grad-school/postdoc, I would dig deeper into the application materials to see if I could find answers to these sorts of questions. If the papers were indicative of the applicant working on scatter-shot projects without supervision, published is lower tier/vanity journals at the expense of programmatic research development and showed signs of being an ineffective graduate mentor… I would probably hold the papers against them. If instead the solo-authored papers were 'in addition to' a strong more supervised research track record, I would probably count them in their favor.
That person's lack of awareness about how publications are viewed raises some eyebrows. Maybe if they were all sole author, that might raise concerns about if you'd be helping out grad students. But that comment is just nonsense.