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Publication Authorship Question

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Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2008, 11:23
Hello,

First time here, sorry if this question has been answered.

I am wondering for journal or conference papers, how much does the order of authorship matter (i.e. first, second, etc...)

And also, under what conditions should the supervisor's name be first author?

The concern I have is that myself and a few other students wrote a paper for a class. Initially I had placed myself as first author; but my supervisor/professor placed his name first. He did not take part in the writing or research itself, just gave advice.

I am not sure if I have been taken advantage of here; seeing that this is my first paper...

Thanks.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2008, 14:32
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I saw this a bit in my master's degree days.
I would file it under "standard practice, but not right"
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2008, 15:31
Thanks for the response westsider.

I am doing my mba, and am most likely applying to enter a PhD program next year.

This is for a conference paper which has been accepted already. The supervisor/prof. suggests it can also be potentially accepted in a journal later on.

Do you suggest this is something I should raise with him, or just take it as is? Would this have an affect on my applications?

Thanks.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2008, 16:45
I don't think that you should risk any tension over the authorship order. I'm not sure it matters that much in this situation, because unfortunately he (she?) will get lots of the credit for the paper in any case. How do you feel about the fact that his name is on it at all? And to be honest, I'm still a little fuzzy on what the line is for that to happen.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2008, 09:29
AFAIK, it's SOP. Usually unless the prof is a really swell person or senior enough to not want/need the pub, it's almost an automatic assumption that his/her name will be front and first on any publication his/her students generate. I wouldn't suggest raising this issue... although, what I usually do is write the paper, and just as I'm about to format it for final revision, ask my prof "So how should the authorship order go for this one?", just to let my prof know that I'm paying attention and am interested in the matter.

And to answer your very first question, authorship order matters a LOT, unless you put the authors in alphabetical order with a notation "All authors contributed equally" or something to that effect. First author is always given the most credit, and anybody from third author on is generally considered to have provided "assistance" or "grunt work". Mind you, there are exceptions... when you see four authors listed and all of them are big names, well... :lol:

From what I gather talking to some profs, unless your conference/journal submission is to an A-list, e.g. Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Administrative Science Quarterly, etc..., then your pub experience will be filed under "Nice, he knows what he's doing" instead of "The next Richard Nisbett!"

EDIT: Clarification. Mind you, during applications having a "Nice, he knows what he's doing" attached to your application is enough to give you that extra leg up. On the flipside, being "The next Richard Nisbett!" won't help if all your other records were abysmal.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2008, 12:00
Kumbaya wrote:
And to answer your very first question, authorship order matters a LOT, unless you put the authors in alphabetical order with a notation "All authors contributed equally" or something to that effect. First author is always given the most credit, and anybody from third author on is generally considered to have provided "assistance" or "grunt work". Mind you, there are exceptions... when you see four authors listed and all of them are big names, well... :lol:


Order might matter, but, just as with the case of 4 big names co-authoring (and how often do you see that?), I think that a Ph.D. student and fairly prominent (well-respected, not necessarily a luminary in the field) scholar co-authoring has a similar effect, particularly in the court of public opinion. One prof whom I know reasonably well told me of an instance when he had to "grin and bear it" at a conference, when he was standing next to his prominent co-author/adviser, and a colleague praised their joint work effusively to his adviser without even acknowledging him, though he did most of the theoretical and empirical development. Another issue is the prof that doesn't really care any more about pubs, as you pointed out, so colleagues might discount authorship order in this case. Bottom line is that order probably doesn't matter that much if you are Ph.D. or below, so I wouldn't press the issue. I'm going under the assumption that my advisors' names will come first on our upcoming papers, and frankly I care far less about that than getting them accepted (by top journals) in the first place.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2008, 15:27
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my opinion, if you have an adviser that didn't help with the paper (seems really unlikely) and wants first authorship, I would say no. There is no reason to say yes. First authorship means a lot when it comes to the work that you do... but they can't just claim it.. it is your paper! Don't submit it. Wait and find a co-author that will be more reasonable (assuming this person didn't contribute and you need professional help). my profs offer data sets on the condition that they are a coauthor if the paper is published. That is reasonable, but not first author.

If you write a paper for an MBA(?) class and it has potential to be published (this also seems highly unlikely) and the prof then takes your draft and puts in the 20+ hours to revise and submit etc, it might warrant a first authorship. Otherwise, no way.

Remember, it won't make the paper more or less likely to be published--peer review is anonymous. Also, for some papers first authorship is a decided by a coin flip.

BTW: if my advisers wanted to be the first author on a paper I wrote I would be really flattered, but I would still object. You are still an adult that can ask other adults to be reasonable. I actually wrote a paper (case study) that was accepted for a text book with a prof. My prof never wanted to be first author, he knew it was my work, my words... choose your advisers/coauthors carefully!
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2008, 16:16
josh478 wrote:
my opinion, if you have an adviser that didn't help with the paper (seems really unlikely) and wants first authorship, I would say no. There is no reason to say yes. First authorship means a lot when it comes to the work that you do... but they can't just claim it.. it is your paper! Don't submit it. Wait and find a co-author that will be more reasonable (assuming this person didn't contribute and you need professional help). my profs offer data sets on the condition that they are a coauthor if the paper is published. That is reasonable, but not first author.

If you write a paper for an MBA(?) class and it has potential to be published (this also seems highly unlikely) and the prof then takes your draft and puts in the 20+ hours to revise and submit etc, it might warrant a first authorship. Otherwise, no way.

Remember, it won't make the paper more or less likely to be published--peer review is anonymous. Also, for some papers first authorship is a decided by a coin flip.

BTW: if my advisers wanted to be the first author on a paper I wrote I would be really flattered, but I would still object. You are still an adult that can ask other adults to be reasonable. I actually wrote a paper (case study) that was accepted for a text book with a prof. My prof never wanted to be first author, he knew it was my work, my words... choose your advisers/coauthors carefully!

KUDOS! I am sure I am being "unreasonable" but lets not confuse "standard practice" with "right". Maybe if we actually stand up for them, ethics will be meaningful. After all - how exactly would the prof defend himself? He is objectively wrong for attempting to take credit for your work.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 31 Mar 2008, 06:46
Kumbaya wrote:
And to answer your very first question, authorship order matters a LOT, unless you put the authors in alphabetical order with a notation "All authors contributed equally" or something to that effect. First author is always given the most credit, and anybody from third author on is generally considered to have provided "assistance" or "grunt work". Mind you, there are exceptions... when you see four authors listed and all of them are big names, well... :lol:


This definitely depends on the field. As far as accounting journals are concerned, alphabetical order is usually the norm, and all authors get equal credit; I've never seen anything similar to "All authors contributed equally" in the opening footnotes. I'm fairly certain that this is also the case in economic journals, and the most widely used PhD textbook in Microeconomics (Mas-Colell, Winston and Green) actually has a notice to explain why the authors' names are _not_ in alphabetical order.

Of course, if a paper gets cited and there are more than 2 co-authors, it will be Francis et al. instead of Francis, LaFond, Olsson and Schipper, so Francis may get bigger press. AFAIK it hasn't hurt Schipper to have been the last name on all those papers.

josh478 wrote:
Remember, it won't make the paper more or less likely to be published--peer review is anonymous.


That is not entirely true.. I know for a fact that many reviewers google the article name to figure out who wrote it, and in many instances they figure it out (ie. the working paper's often lying somewhere on the web). Whether that taints their judgement is an open question.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2008, 11:15
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That is not entirely true.. I know for a fact that many reviewers google the article name to figure out who wrote it, and in many instances they figure it out (ie. the working paper's often lying somewhere on the web). Whether that taints their judgement is an open question.


Fact of the matter is that this is often not true. Papers aren't developed in a vacuum, so oftentimes talks have been given on it at various conferences/seminars so that at least some reviewers know who it is. Also, people begin to recognize certain attributes of papers (empirical context, writing style, etc...) so that gives reviewers a fairly good idea of who wrote the paper in some cases. Conversely, reviewers are also often "revealed" in a similar manner.
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Re: Publication Authorship Question [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 06:48
Yes, you are right, the process SHOULD be anonymous but sometimes it not. Especially if the author cites his or her own dissertation :) Those who review a lot might be able to put the pieces together, but they aren't always completely certain about the authors. And it is inappropriate to use that knowledge (authors) to determine the relative quality/publishability of the paper. I like to think that reviewers are true to that ideal.

I think if you look at journals like ASQ, there is usually text in the lower left corner that gives thanks to reviewers and sometimes mentions authorship credits. I have seen author order mentioned many times. It might be different based on your discipline, but first author in management is usually based on contribution unless otherwise noted--at least that is what I have found.

But really, in the end, a pub is a pub. Get as many as you can...
Re: Publication Authorship Question   [#permalink] 02 Apr 2008, 06:48
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