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The Francis Crick Papers

Letter from Francis Crick to Marshall W. Nirenberg pdf (148,339 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Francis Crick to Marshall W. Nirenberg
In this letter Crick demonstrated his characteristic concern for maintaining social conventions of openness, collegiality, and expeditiousness in communicating scientific ideas among researchers. Only if such conventions were maintained, Crick repeatedly insisted, could priority of scientific discoveries be established, and personal credit and professional esteem be granted accordingly.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (148,339 Bytes)
1966-04-21 (April 21, 1966)
Crick, Francis
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
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Reproduced with permission of the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Genetic Code
Exhibit Category:
Deciphering the Genetic Code, 1958-1966
Metadata Record Letter from Marshall W. Nirenberg to Francis Crick (May 7, 1966) pdf (339,224 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Metadata Record Letter from Francis Crick to Marshall W. Nirenberg (May 10, 1966) pdf (100,665 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 10
Folder Number: PP/CRI/D/1/1/14
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence
SubSeries: Alphabetical Correspondence
SubSubSeries: Correspondence 1
Folder: Correspondence N
21st April, 1966.
Dear Marshall,
Gobind has sent me a copy of your paper with Kellogg, Doctor and Loebel in PNAS. Be and I are both upset to see this paper appear in such a way. You will recall that I asked you in a letter dated 5th January whether you had published "the binding studies presented at the Gordon Conference". In your reply of 14th January you referred only to your work on Holley's RNA. You said nothing about other binding work, and allowed me to submit my paper without mentioning that you had work in the press.
As you must realise Gobind's paper was held up for about a month by the Journal of Molecular Biology waiting for your paper. It was only after I had telephoned you from Cornell that we asked the Editors to proceed with the refereeing. Even then it was arranged that if your paper arrived in time it would be published at the same time as his. It was quite unethical of you to submit a paper on 25th February on the same general subject, for rapid publication, without mentioning it to either Gobind or myself, and at the same time to effectively delay the publication of his paper.
You are, of course, in a general way under no obligation to tell other workers what you have in press, but to pretend to tell them, and to arrange publication with the, while simultaneously slipping a paper in another journal, is not the sort of thing which will endear you to your friends.
I have, unfortunately, been involved in unpleasantness like this in the past, and I realise that one does not always see how ones actions will look to other people, and that one can make errors of judgment when priority is at stake. Nevertheless on the face of it I feel you owe both Gobind and me an explanation, if not an apology. Would you please write to me to explain your position.
I'm sorry to hear that you haven;t been well,
Yours sincerely,
F. H. C. Crick
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