In the science community there are lots of cases where two or more scientists work on the same ideas or theories.

How is it decided which scientist to give credit for a particular discovery? What are the relevant facts taken into consideration, e.g. date of discovery, date of manuscript completion, date of publication?


1 Answer 1


Squabbles over honor are just as common among scientists as elsewhere in society. Memorable examples include:


Manifold destiny.

Plain facts are usually not sufficient to resolve issues where ambition is involved.

You can consult this list for further examples (somebody should get around to adding Manifold Destiny to it).

  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget the women scientists working with Watson and Crick, who got little recognition at the time. $\endgroup$
    – Barmar
    Commented May 28 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ This is a very thin answer. It would be more useful if it gave some examples of the basis on which a contentious discovery was awarded to one person or the other. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Jun 14 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Barmar — To correct your comment. Watson and Crick did not work with any women. There was one woman at a different institution who was not even working with the scientist in the same institution who was obliged to hand over his project to her. Watson and Crick certainly used some of her results. In the same issue of Nature as Watson and Crick proposed their structure of DNA, she (Rosalin Franklin) published an associated paper, and her supposed colleague (Wilkins) published a third. The recognition Crick, Watson and Wilkins obtained was the Nobel Prize. By that time she was deceased. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Jun 14 at 18:30

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