Giving technicians the recognition they deserve

Technician recognition

Source: © Neil Webb @ Début Art

Schemes such as the Technician Commitment are starting to address problems with authorship and career development

In the 17th century artists illustrated scientific apparatus being operated by cherubs, rendering invisible the laboratory technicians who would have carried out such experiments. One of the only technicians at that time who received some recognition was Frenchman Denis Papin, who worked with Robert Boyle on the properties of gases. In the preface to his 1680 publication Boyle admits that Papin designed and constructed the instruments, planned and organised the experiments, took and recorded the measurements and was even responsible for most of the interpretation of the results. But as a technician, Papin was not recorded as a co-author of the work.

Over 300 years later many technicians are still not being given the co-authorship they deserve for the scientific research they facilitate. Laurence Dawkins-Hall, a research technician at the BHF Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Leicester, UK, even says that opportunities for technicians to publish their work have decreased over the last few decades.