A couple of weeks ago Chemistry World ran a story on a cracking paper from a team in Korea. The researchers took inspiration from the way Egyptian stone masons cracked large stone blocks (they inserted a wedge into a hole and then soaked it with water, causing it to expand and crack the stone) to create a technique to make nanoscale cracks in a controlled manner. They did this by etching a guide of notches and grooves into a silicon substrate and then depositing silicon nitride on top. The notches and grooves create a pathway for cracks to propagate along and this technique could be very useful for electronic and microfluidic devices.

© Nature

However, it now turns out that there’s an authorship dispute. The PhD student who said that she did much of the legwork didn’t get a note on the author list, according to this story in the Korea Herald (h/t @naturenano). The leader of the research group, Nam Koo-hyun at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, told the Herald that he made it clear from the start that the PhD student wouldn’t get a credit and that doing experimental work ‘does not qualify one for authorship’. I’m not sure how other PhD students would feel about this! Plenty of people have received a name check for far less than carrying out the experimental work. What do you think the cut off point should be for getting an author credit?

Patrick Walter

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