On Authorship

I love it when casual conversation results in an epiphany. While sipping drinks at a bar and ignoring our goose-bumped bikini-clad waitresses, Green College Fellow and academic mentor Neil revealed the key aspects of any academic paper:

  1. Money (funding for research)
  2. Thought (of research)
  3. Collect (data)
  4. Analyze (data)
  5. Write (paper)

The first author has been involved in all five aspects. Other authors must have been involved in at least three aspects. If you were involved in fewer, then you aren’t listed as an author.

Sensible, straightforward, and I wish I’d know it years ago. Now, does anyone know how to determine author-order for those remaining folks?

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3 Responses to On Authorship

  1. pg says:

    There is also another one that can in handy:

    piggy-backing a third or fourth author for their name to get you past the editors door instead of being an unknown tossed into the trash heap.

    Good research should stand on it’s own of course, but journal editors are swamped for time and having a well-known name on your first paper or two could help get you published before you do enough research to establish yourself. So maybe being involved in 2 would pass.

  2. pg says:

    Ack! I mean “can come in handy”. I need another coffee.

  3. Chris says:

    Usually the last author is the PI, at least, that’s how we roll in physics.

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