give the academic gift that keeps on giving
Yes, it’s the season of giving and what better way to show you care than to give authorship on one of your papers. This can be a very touchy subject sometimes and I’ve heard of some pretty crazy and ridiculous situations where people have been included as authors on papers (some even including extortion and blackmail). But, what I’m talking about here is including people in your research–getting people involved in the process.
One concern I’ve heard is that having a lot of authors on a manuscript dilutes the authors’ acknowledgement, which really is not true. To this day, I still only pay attention to the first and last authors (sometimes second-to-last author as well)–I find this to be true of almost all of my friends and colleagues.
So why should you actively try to involve others at an authorship level? Well, another brain thinking about your project certainly can’t hurt. That’s a given, but maybe you don’t think it’s necessary plus there are people who would think about your project without having to be an author. From a practical standpoint, when you include someone with the understanding that he/she will be an author, you can demand a lot more–time, resources, thought, etc.–from that individual: What do you mean you can’t? You’re going to be an author right? Do it!
More importantly–and I think this is more important for some of us junior academics–including someone else in your research at an authorship level shows your appreciation for that individual’s thoughts/abilities and contributions with the most valuable currency in academia and ultimately helps to build new professional friendships as well as solidify already established professional friendships. Some of my closest friends (professional and now even personal) are people who I’ve met through research collaborations and they remain as people who I know I can rely on for help when I need it. And in the often cut-throat world of academics, it is awesome to have such friends. So as you are working on your research, keep this in mind and use it to your advantage to make important professional connections and friendships…