Skip Nav

Conventions of Scientific Authorship

Navigation menu

❶Writers who work in this capacity are called ghostwriters.

How Can Ultius Help You Buy a Research Paper?

Related Stories
How to Order Author Names and Why That Matters
Your Answer

And because of the way work gets cited e. Sometimes more than one author can be "first," indicated by an asterisk or other typographical symbol and an explanatory note.

But the person listed first is always the most visible. With credit comes responsibility: Who is to blame if something's wrong? Typically—but not always—the author listed last is the head of the lab that hosted most of the research. Ideally, this senior author has inspected all the original data analyzed and reported in a paper, notes Randy Schekman, editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS.

Consequently, the last author often gets the most grief if things go wrong—and much of the credit when things go right. Having one person ultimately responsible for everything in a paper is a fine idea. Some journals now require a senior author from each lab to review all of the data generated by their labs and its interpretation. The result is that in complex projects, there can be more than one "last author" just as there can be more than one "first" author; this, too, is usually indicated with typographic symbols and explanatory footnotes.

In addition, almost every scientific article specifies at least one "corresponding author," indicated by a typographic mark and a footnote. The corresponding author is the point of contact for editors, readers, and outside researchers who have questions about the contents of the paper. Often, the corresponding author is also the last author, but she or he may be listed first or even in the middle of the author list.

For a student who has been left off an author list, it can be especially maddening to see someone included who obviously doesn't deserve it. Also called "honorary," or "guest," authors, gift authors don't make a significant contribution or sometimes any contribution at all to the paper, Stemwedel says. Motivations for gift authorship vary; the principal investigator PI may think he's doing the recipient a favor, or she or he may think that adding the name of a well-known scientist will improve the odds of getting published in a top journal.

Gift authors can appear anywhere on the author list, but usually they're listed in the middle. Anyone who doesn't realize that the authorship is honorary—that is, almost everyone who reads the paper—will wrongly assume that this well-known scientist has performed his or her role in ensuring the integrity of the data.

Sometimes authorships are even "gifted" without the recipient's knowledge. As collaborations become interdisciplinary and author lists grow longer, who did what becomes even less discernible to readers. In a culture that requires precise communication, the traditional means of communicating author's contributions is "scarcely scientific," Rennie says. The editorial announced that in order to combat honorary authorship, contributors to Science -- as well as to Nature and PNAS , who shared in the development of these principles—would have to describe their contributions to the article prior to acceptance.

This is similar to the policies Rennie promoted at JAMA , except that at Science the information is kept on file but not routinely published. Furthermore, in order to improve accountability, a senior author from each laboratory or group participating in the collaboration must now certify that she or he has reviewed the original data and its representation. So in , Rennie proposed a solution: Each manuscript should contain a clear description of each author's contribution.

The team should identify a leader to reassure readers and editors that someone is accountable. Published online Jan This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Open in a separate window. Acknowledgments We applied the SDC approach for the sequence of authors.

Multiauthor papers on the rise. Are ecologists becoming more gregarious? Bull British Ecol Soc. Is it time for a new approach to authorship? Trying an authorship index. A worksheet for authorship of scientific articles. Bull Ecol Soc America. QUAD system offers fair shares to all authors. Second thoughts on who goes where in author lists. Attribution, accountability, and responsibility. Support Center Support Center. Please review our privacy policy. In Computational Geometry a branch of Computer Science , for example, it has been commonplace to list authors alphabetically.

In most of the rest of Computer Science, authors are usually listed by the "size" of their contribution. If the paper has a very "big" important idea then conceptual contribution will be relatively more important. If the paper describes a fairly well-understood concept which means it might have limited impact then the author ordering may depend more heavily on other factors like doing the writeup. If team members made very different kinds of contributions it can be very hard to determine the ordering, but then the relative positions aside from first and last are likely to matter less.

In my opinion, doing the actual writeup is usually not the most important factor, but it sometimes becomes the dominant factor since it is easy to measure as a contribution, come last which makes it easy to remember , and because the people doing the writeup have the initiative and control of the manuscript.

Since it is such a delicate and awkward issue, the writers who put the names down in the document first often manage to set the precedent. Notably, the most important positions in the author list are first and last position both are generally seen as good.

Typically, the first author listed is the person who has taken the most responsibility for the work. Other authors are listed in order of the level of their contribution.

I think you should had discussed this issue before starting the research. For example you could have agreed that anybody who solves the main part of the problem project will be the first author. But now that it is done, I think you should talk about it with your advisor and you might have to be a little flexible about the order of authorship. Ordering names in publications is a very delicate matter and should always be discussed among the research team before submission. The importance of those elements determines who will be the first author.

The most important parts are definitely the experiment itself and the paper writing. Whoever didn't take part in both of those can hardly be considered an author. This might be considered a bit controversial sometimes, but other researchers who only took part in a small part of the process should be added in the acknowledgements instead.

Now, in many cases nowadays not everybody takes part in each part of the research process. This usually creates ambiguities, that should be solved in the best way, asking for advice from a research authority, with the enough experience and information to judge on the situation. In my opinion, whatever the order of authors, the contributions should be individually stated, as it is common in some fields and journals.

This avoids problems like yours, and also real cases:. I think it is very strange if people "who didn't do the work" get to do the writeup.

Whoever did the research is intimately familiar with the methods and results, and is in best position to make the judgement calls of what to include or leave out, were exactly the difficulties and successes are, what is the real contributions are and what is incidental. Sure, somebody periperally involved can look it over and do proofreading or editing, but not structuring and initial writeup.

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service , privacy policy and cookie policy , and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

You are here

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

The complete guide to writing a brilliant research paper If you are looking for help in writing your research paper and want all the resources you need at one go, you've come to the right place! Read More. Style & Format Deciding the order of authors on a paper. Shazia Khanam | Oct 16, | , views. Save to read later. Add a.

Privacy FAQs

In fact, the average original research paper has five authors. The growing list of collaborative research projects raises important questions regarding the author order for research manuscripts and the impact an author list has on readers’ perceptions.

About Our Ads

Jan 16,  · In multiauthored papers, the first author position should clearly be assigned to the individual as suggested by previous authors. Authorship order only reflects relative contribution, whereas evaluation committees often need quantitative measures. University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany. Michael E. Hochberg is Research. Order of authors in an engineering publication. up vote 16 down vote favorite. 4. Recently, In my opinion, whatever the order of authors, the contributions should be individually stated, as it is common in some fields and journals. Status regarding co-authorship for a computer science research paper.

Cookie Info

In a multiple author paper, what should be the order in which individual authors name come? Co-authorship in a research paper and its effect on impact factor or the overall weightage of the. Rare is the scientific paper today written by a single author. With research being conducted by teams of scientists, most studies now boast a half-dozen or so authors. According to a new study led.