So if you look at it from the standpoint of one of the Cutler lab’s competitors they are being offered a chance to get in on a Science pub on something that they may not have even realized they had. Even if they did have something, their first assumption had to have been “Holy schmoly, the Cutler lab is ready to submit at any moment so we’ll get scooped if we don’t accept!”. As another commenter at Janet’s place, Neuro-conservative, pointed out:
Note that Cutler’s lab got first and last authorship on the Science paper. For all intents and purposes, the other guys were scooped.
So the devil really is in the details here with respect to how far along the Cutler lab was, how collaborative the interactions were from the first contact between labs and how accurate the characterization that the collaborating labs didn’t realize what they had. It could be the case that the labs all really did start from a nascent idea of Cutler’s and build substantively forward. Or, the Cutler lab might have been essentially ready and able to go it alone and generously offered to bring along some competitors who otherwise would have been really screwed.
Or….a really, really cynical person might see this as a brilliant power move to ensure that you most-likely competitors would not be trying to scoop you nor even be able to edge their way into one of those lame co-publication games.
I would really like to hear the interviews with the competing labs that Cutler got to contribute..as well as those who took a pass on the offer.