What book is the Iyun Yaakov referring to with the abbreviation כ”ח?

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3

The Iyun Yaakov on Berachos daf 3a on the words “the night has 4 watches” quotes from a book that he refers to with the abbreviation כ”ח. What book is he referring to?

(In the new edition of the Ein Yaakov you can find the beginning of the Iyun Yaakov on page ט. The quote is on the next page, page י.)

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  • I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

    – sam
    Jan 1 at 16:40

  • @sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 17:20

3

The Iyun Yaakov on Berachos daf 3a on the words “the night has 4 watches” quotes from a book that he refers to with the abbreviation כ”ח. What book is he referring to?

(In the new edition of the Ein Yaakov you can find the beginning of the Iyun Yaakov on page ט. The quote is on the next page, page י.)

share|improve this question

  • I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

    – sam
    Jan 1 at 16:40

  • @sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 17:20

3

3

3

The Iyun Yaakov on Berachos daf 3a on the words “the night has 4 watches” quotes from a book that he refers to with the abbreviation כ”ח. What book is he referring to?

(In the new edition of the Ein Yaakov you can find the beginning of the Iyun Yaakov on page ט. The quote is on the next page, page י.)

share|improve this question

The Iyun Yaakov on Berachos daf 3a on the words “the night has 4 watches” quotes from a book that he refers to with the abbreviation כ”ח. What book is he referring to?

(In the new edition of the Ein Yaakov you can find the beginning of the Iyun Yaakov on page ט. The quote is on the next page, page י.)

jewish-books authorship

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asked Jan 1 at 16:29

GavrielGavriel

3,98311345

3,98311345

  • I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

    – sam
    Jan 1 at 16:40

  • @sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 17:20

  • I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

    – sam
    Jan 1 at 16:40

  • @sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 17:20

I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

– sam
Jan 1 at 16:40

I didn’t look it up,but can it be a ksiv chaser?

– sam
Jan 1 at 16:40

@sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

– Gavriel
Jan 1 at 17:20

@sam What would that mean “a ksiv chaser”?

– Gavriel
Jan 1 at 17:20

1 Answer
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6

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=56230&st=&pgnum=124&hilite= says it’s supposed to be כ”ה, which stands for כבוד הבית.

share|improve this answer

  • How did you find that?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 21:42

  • @Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 22:07

1 Answer
1

active

oldest

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1 Answer
1

active

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active

oldest

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active

oldest

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6

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=56230&st=&pgnum=124&hilite= says it’s supposed to be כ”ה, which stands for כבוד הבית.

share|improve this answer

  • How did you find that?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 21:42

  • @Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 22:07

6

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=56230&st=&pgnum=124&hilite= says it’s supposed to be כ”ה, which stands for כבוד הבית.

share|improve this answer

  • How did you find that?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 21:42

  • @Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 22:07

6

6

6

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=56230&st=&pgnum=124&hilite= says it’s supposed to be כ”ה, which stands for כבוד הבית.

share|improve this answer

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=56230&st=&pgnum=124&hilite= says it’s supposed to be כ”ה, which stands for כבוד הבית.

share|improve this answer

share|improve this answer

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answered Jan 1 at 19:22

MeirMeir

3715

3715

  • How did you find that?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 21:42

  • @Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 22:07

  • How did you find that?

    – Gavriel
    Jan 1 at 21:42

  • @Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 22:07

How did you find that?

– Gavriel
Jan 1 at 21:42

How did you find that?

– Gavriel
Jan 1 at 21:42

@Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

– Meir
Jan 1 at 22:07

@Gavriel: searched on Hebrewbooks using a couple of the keywords that Iyun Yaakov quotes.

– Meir
Jan 1 at 22:07

Should I accept authorship on large collaborations for which I have made little contribution?

The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

11

I have just started a post-doc. So far all of my papers have had small author lists (4-5 people). I have just been invited as a co-author on several papers with hundreds of authors. The papers are pitched as community-wide collaborations: some being white papers describing a future experiment that the community plans to engage in, others being the results from first data from such experiments. My contribution, and the contribution of 99% of the authors whose names are already there, have been negligible. What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

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  • 3

    Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

    – corey979
    Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

  • 3

    If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

  • 1

    @corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

    – Andreas Blass
    Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

  • 1

    @smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

    – Michael MacAskill
    Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

  • 2

    @smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

    – rhombidodecahedron
    Jan 1 at 11:40

11

I have just started a post-doc. So far all of my papers have had small author lists (4-5 people). I have just been invited as a co-author on several papers with hundreds of authors. The papers are pitched as community-wide collaborations: some being white papers describing a future experiment that the community plans to engage in, others being the results from first data from such experiments. My contribution, and the contribution of 99% of the authors whose names are already there, have been negligible. What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

share|improve this question

  • 3

    Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

    – corey979
    Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

  • 3

    If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

  • 1

    @corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

    – Andreas Blass
    Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

  • 1

    @smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

    – Michael MacAskill
    Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

  • 2

    @smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

    – rhombidodecahedron
    Jan 1 at 11:40

11

11

11

1

I have just started a post-doc. So far all of my papers have had small author lists (4-5 people). I have just been invited as a co-author on several papers with hundreds of authors. The papers are pitched as community-wide collaborations: some being white papers describing a future experiment that the community plans to engage in, others being the results from first data from such experiments. My contribution, and the contribution of 99% of the authors whose names are already there, have been negligible. What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

share|improve this question

I have just started a post-doc. So far all of my papers have had small author lists (4-5 people). I have just been invited as a co-author on several papers with hundreds of authors. The papers are pitched as community-wide collaborations: some being white papers describing a future experiment that the community plans to engage in, others being the results from first data from such experiments. My contribution, and the contribution of 99% of the authors whose names are already there, have been negligible. What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

authorship collaboration mega-collaborations

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share|improve this question

share|improve this question

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asked Dec 29 ’18 at 14:01

rhombidodecahedronrhombidodecahedron

482216

482216

  • 3

    Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

    – corey979
    Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

  • 3

    If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

  • 1

    @corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

    – Andreas Blass
    Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

  • 1

    @smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

    – Michael MacAskill
    Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

  • 2

    @smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

    – rhombidodecahedron
    Jan 1 at 11:40

  • 3

    Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

    – corey979
    Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

  • 3

    If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

  • 1

    @corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

    – Andreas Blass
    Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

  • 1

    @smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

    – Michael MacAskill
    Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

  • 2

    @smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

    – rhombidodecahedron
    Jan 1 at 11:40

3

3

Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

– corey979
Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

Pros: papers for your CV; being a member of a collaboration; meetings. Cons (conditional): if you don’t publish anything outside the collaboration, you are considered as a free-loader. Doesn’t apply if you regularly publish papers not directly related to the collaboration.

– corey979
Dec 29 ’18 at 14:17

3

3

If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

– Jon Custer
Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

If there are hundreds of authors, realistically how big a contribution can one author make? Be a part of it if you are in the field. The field will understand the level of contribution.

– Jon Custer
Dec 29 ’18 at 17:11

1

1

@corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

– Andreas Blass
Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

@corey979 I’m not sure that meetings should always count as pro.

– Andreas Blass
Dec 29 ’18 at 20:46

1

1

@smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

– Michael MacAskill
Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

@smci Rather than necessarily being dodgy, this sort of arrangement is completely routine, particularly in fields like genetics, where dozens or hundreds of sites must pool data to reach the numbers required for meaningful analysis. Rather than being dodgy, such papers are often published in prestigious journals and can receive thousands of citations. Also look at large physics collaborations, like the Large Hadron Collider paper on the Higgs boson in Nature: it had 5000 authors.

– Michael MacAskill
Dec 30 ’18 at 5:00

2

2

@smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

– rhombidodecahedron
Jan 1 at 11:40

@smci It’s extremely common in physics as well. Far from being predatory, these papers are published in the very best journals of our field, led by the top experts of our field. Surely it is field-dependent, but given that these papers often have many thousands of authors, it is a question that affects many academics.

– rhombidodecahedron
Jan 1 at 11:40

2 Answers
2

active

oldest

votes

10

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

Pros

  • Your contributions to the collaboration are formally acknowledged, both incentivizing you to continue working on it as well as putting the candle under your butt to get up to speed on anything you should be getting good at.
  • Leaders in the collaboration see you listed as a contributing member, allowing your candidacy for the next round of projects that need attention by working group members. Generally, people reach out to include you going forward.
  • You will be put on mailings that automatically include all researchers on the paper, keeping you up to speed as developments happen in real time.
  • Your association with the project is beneficial to both your career (i.e., Look at this thing I worked on!) and the project itself (i.e., Look at this great contributor we have!).

Cons

  • None. Literally none.

There is a related problem in academia called illegitimate co-authorship, or sometimes authorship inflation, but that is a problem to be tackled by policy. If this problem bothers you, find ways to contribute to the policies and incentives that systematically reinforce this behavior. Boycotting it personally will only serve to harm your career and be a drop in the bucket of the larger problem.

share|improve this answer

  • 2

    Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

    – user71659
    Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

7

This sort of thing is common in many fields and unheard of in others. I suspect that in your field there are many such papers and, among other things, they establish your connection to a group of researchers who will, in the future, become leaders in the field.

So, yes, do that. And, as your career progresses your contributions will improve and increase.

There is at least one example of a paper in which the list of authors is longer than the paper itself. Possibly in a field like biochemistry, but I don’t remember the details.

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  • 1

    Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

  • 3

    @JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

  • @Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

  • @JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

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2 Answers
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10

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

Pros

  • Your contributions to the collaboration are formally acknowledged, both incentivizing you to continue working on it as well as putting the candle under your butt to get up to speed on anything you should be getting good at.
  • Leaders in the collaboration see you listed as a contributing member, allowing your candidacy for the next round of projects that need attention by working group members. Generally, people reach out to include you going forward.
  • You will be put on mailings that automatically include all researchers on the paper, keeping you up to speed as developments happen in real time.
  • Your association with the project is beneficial to both your career (i.e., Look at this thing I worked on!) and the project itself (i.e., Look at this great contributor we have!).

Cons

  • None. Literally none.

There is a related problem in academia called illegitimate co-authorship, or sometimes authorship inflation, but that is a problem to be tackled by policy. If this problem bothers you, find ways to contribute to the policies and incentives that systematically reinforce this behavior. Boycotting it personally will only serve to harm your career and be a drop in the bucket of the larger problem.

share|improve this answer

  • 2

    Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

    – user71659
    Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

10

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

Pros

  • Your contributions to the collaboration are formally acknowledged, both incentivizing you to continue working on it as well as putting the candle under your butt to get up to speed on anything you should be getting good at.
  • Leaders in the collaboration see you listed as a contributing member, allowing your candidacy for the next round of projects that need attention by working group members. Generally, people reach out to include you going forward.
  • You will be put on mailings that automatically include all researchers on the paper, keeping you up to speed as developments happen in real time.
  • Your association with the project is beneficial to both your career (i.e., Look at this thing I worked on!) and the project itself (i.e., Look at this great contributor we have!).

Cons

  • None. Literally none.

There is a related problem in academia called illegitimate co-authorship, or sometimes authorship inflation, but that is a problem to be tackled by policy. If this problem bothers you, find ways to contribute to the policies and incentives that systematically reinforce this behavior. Boycotting it personally will only serve to harm your career and be a drop in the bucket of the larger problem.

share|improve this answer

  • 2

    Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

    – user71659
    Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

10

10

10

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

Pros

  • Your contributions to the collaboration are formally acknowledged, both incentivizing you to continue working on it as well as putting the candle under your butt to get up to speed on anything you should be getting good at.
  • Leaders in the collaboration see you listed as a contributing member, allowing your candidacy for the next round of projects that need attention by working group members. Generally, people reach out to include you going forward.
  • You will be put on mailings that automatically include all researchers on the paper, keeping you up to speed as developments happen in real time.
  • Your association with the project is beneficial to both your career (i.e., Look at this thing I worked on!) and the project itself (i.e., Look at this great contributor we have!).

Cons

  • None. Literally none.

There is a related problem in academia called illegitimate co-authorship, or sometimes authorship inflation, but that is a problem to be tackled by policy. If this problem bothers you, find ways to contribute to the policies and incentives that systematically reinforce this behavior. Boycotting it personally will only serve to harm your career and be a drop in the bucket of the larger problem.

share|improve this answer

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to be on such a paper?

Pros

  • Your contributions to the collaboration are formally acknowledged, both incentivizing you to continue working on it as well as putting the candle under your butt to get up to speed on anything you should be getting good at.
  • Leaders in the collaboration see you listed as a contributing member, allowing your candidacy for the next round of projects that need attention by working group members. Generally, people reach out to include you going forward.
  • You will be put on mailings that automatically include all researchers on the paper, keeping you up to speed as developments happen in real time.
  • Your association with the project is beneficial to both your career (i.e., Look at this thing I worked on!) and the project itself (i.e., Look at this great contributor we have!).

Cons

  • None. Literally none.

There is a related problem in academia called illegitimate co-authorship, or sometimes authorship inflation, but that is a problem to be tackled by policy. If this problem bothers you, find ways to contribute to the policies and incentives that systematically reinforce this behavior. Boycotting it personally will only serve to harm your career and be a drop in the bucket of the larger problem.

share|improve this answer

share|improve this answer

share|improve this answer

answered Dec 29 ’18 at 19:23

user1717828user1717828

2,89921125

2,89921125

  • 2

    Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

    – user71659
    Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

  • 2

    Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

    – user71659
    Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

2

2

Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

– user71659
Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

Cons: they will always be highly-cited papers which will inflate your citation count and other metrics. People will interpret your citation counts with more skepticism or a “correction factor”, so your individual work may get lost in the noise.

– user71659
Dec 29 ’18 at 22:29

7

This sort of thing is common in many fields and unheard of in others. I suspect that in your field there are many such papers and, among other things, they establish your connection to a group of researchers who will, in the future, become leaders in the field.

So, yes, do that. And, as your career progresses your contributions will improve and increase.

There is at least one example of a paper in which the list of authors is longer than the paper itself. Possibly in a field like biochemistry, but I don’t remember the details.

share|improve this answer

  • 1

    Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

  • 3

    @JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

  • @Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

  • @JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

7

This sort of thing is common in many fields and unheard of in others. I suspect that in your field there are many such papers and, among other things, they establish your connection to a group of researchers who will, in the future, become leaders in the field.

So, yes, do that. And, as your career progresses your contributions will improve and increase.

There is at least one example of a paper in which the list of authors is longer than the paper itself. Possibly in a field like biochemistry, but I don’t remember the details.

share|improve this answer

  • 1

    Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

  • 3

    @JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

  • @Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

  • @JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

7

7

7

This sort of thing is common in many fields and unheard of in others. I suspect that in your field there are many such papers and, among other things, they establish your connection to a group of researchers who will, in the future, become leaders in the field.

So, yes, do that. And, as your career progresses your contributions will improve and increase.

There is at least one example of a paper in which the list of authors is longer than the paper itself. Possibly in a field like biochemistry, but I don’t remember the details.

share|improve this answer

This sort of thing is common in many fields and unheard of in others. I suspect that in your field there are many such papers and, among other things, they establish your connection to a group of researchers who will, in the future, become leaders in the field.

So, yes, do that. And, as your career progresses your contributions will improve and increase.

There is at least one example of a paper in which the list of authors is longer than the paper itself. Possibly in a field like biochemistry, but I don’t remember the details.

share|improve this answer

share|improve this answer

share|improve this answer

answered Dec 29 ’18 at 15:17

BuffyBuffy

39.6k9125204

39.6k9125204

  • 1

    Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

  • 3

    @JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

  • @Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

  • @JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

  • 1

    Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

  • 3

    @JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

  • @Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

    – Jon Custer
    Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

  • @JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

    – Buttonwood
    Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

1

1

Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

– Jon Custer
Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

Large particle physics collaborations used to have a full author list in the paper. Fortunately that did not count against the page limit in, e.g., Physical Review Letters. Now the ‘author’ of those is a ‘collaboration’, the members of which can be found online.

– Jon Custer
Dec 29 ’18 at 17:10

3

3

@JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

– Buttonwood
Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

@JonCuster You likely refer to the (current) champion with 5154 authors (journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.191803, open access). Which is set in context to a few other “hyperauthorship” papers in a nature publication (nature.com/news/…) — equally accessible by open access.

– Buttonwood
Dec 29 ’18 at 21:35

@Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

– Jon Custer
Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

@Buttonwood – even back in the 80’s there were PRLs with an author list longer than the actual paper (nominally limited to 3 pages only at that time!). Somewhere around 1988 or so they switched to listing just the ‘collaboration’, thereby keeping everyone to the 3 page limit.

– Jon Custer
Dec 30 ’18 at 1:31

@JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

– Buttonwood
Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

@JonCuster The varying discern of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-authorship’ (e.g. the related drosophila paper with ~900+ contributing undergrads), which may be a problem already within much smaller groups of authors, too is a reason why I like a section “Author Contributions” in PLoS One’s publications. And why the OP should seek to publish his/her results, if reasonable, separately, where his/her contributions may be more visible & influential to others. As reading body and SI of nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8, the “management style” in such “enterprise-like” groups varies.

– Buttonwood
Dec 30 ’18 at 2:32

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Can I add an “author contributions” section to make clear that I did all the work on a paper?

The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

25

I have a paper where I have many co-authors and most of them did not contribute much. As a PhD student I am in a weak position to reject such inquiries of senior faculty.

To address this, I want to add a section on author contributions. However, the journal where I have this paper under review does not have this section as a default.
Is it still OK to add this or how should I proceed to make it more clear that I did all the work on this paper?

UPDATE: thanks to all, I am overwhelmed with the feedback I got. Based on your advice, I decided to not take any actions and make this a lesson learned for future situations. As the paper is already under review it is also too late. In the future, I will try to convince “coauthors” to be mentioned in the acknowledgements instead.

share|improve this question

  • 1

    Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
    – corey979
    Dec 18 at 11:45

  • 8

    To clarify: Why are they authors?
    – Haque
    Dec 18 at 12:25

  • 2

    @Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:47

  • 22

    Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
    – L_W
    Dec 18 at 13:13

  • 4

    @spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
    – henning
    Dec 18 at 15:28

25

I have a paper where I have many co-authors and most of them did not contribute much. As a PhD student I am in a weak position to reject such inquiries of senior faculty.

To address this, I want to add a section on author contributions. However, the journal where I have this paper under review does not have this section as a default.
Is it still OK to add this or how should I proceed to make it more clear that I did all the work on this paper?

UPDATE: thanks to all, I am overwhelmed with the feedback I got. Based on your advice, I decided to not take any actions and make this a lesson learned for future situations. As the paper is already under review it is also too late. In the future, I will try to convince “coauthors” to be mentioned in the acknowledgements instead.

share|improve this question

  • 1

    Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
    – corey979
    Dec 18 at 11:45

  • 8

    To clarify: Why are they authors?
    – Haque
    Dec 18 at 12:25

  • 2

    @Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:47

  • 22

    Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
    – L_W
    Dec 18 at 13:13

  • 4

    @spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
    – henning
    Dec 18 at 15:28

25

25

25

3

I have a paper where I have many co-authors and most of them did not contribute much. As a PhD student I am in a weak position to reject such inquiries of senior faculty.

To address this, I want to add a section on author contributions. However, the journal where I have this paper under review does not have this section as a default.
Is it still OK to add this or how should I proceed to make it more clear that I did all the work on this paper?

UPDATE: thanks to all, I am overwhelmed with the feedback I got. Based on your advice, I decided to not take any actions and make this a lesson learned for future situations. As the paper is already under review it is also too late. In the future, I will try to convince “coauthors” to be mentioned in the acknowledgements instead.

share|improve this question

I have a paper where I have many co-authors and most of them did not contribute much. As a PhD student I am in a weak position to reject such inquiries of senior faculty.

To address this, I want to add a section on author contributions. However, the journal where I have this paper under review does not have this section as a default.
Is it still OK to add this or how should I proceed to make it more clear that I did all the work on this paper?

UPDATE: thanks to all, I am overwhelmed with the feedback I got. Based on your advice, I decided to not take any actions and make this a lesson learned for future situations. As the paper is already under review it is also too late. In the future, I will try to convince “coauthors” to be mentioned in the acknowledgements instead.

publications authorship

share|improve this question

share|improve this question

share|improve this question

share|improve this question

edited Dec 18 at 15:59

asked Dec 18 at 10:59

spore234

27336

27336

  • 1

    Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
    – corey979
    Dec 18 at 11:45

  • 8

    To clarify: Why are they authors?
    – Haque
    Dec 18 at 12:25

  • 2

    @Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:47

  • 22

    Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
    – L_W
    Dec 18 at 13:13

  • 4

    @spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
    – henning
    Dec 18 at 15:28

  • 1

    Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
    – corey979
    Dec 18 at 11:45

  • 8

    To clarify: Why are they authors?
    – Haque
    Dec 18 at 12:25

  • 2

    @Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:47

  • 22

    Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
    – L_W
    Dec 18 at 13:13

  • 4

    @spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
    – henning
    Dec 18 at 15:28

1

1

Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
– corey979
Dec 18 at 11:45

Just to clarify: is this in a field where being the first author is meaningful, and are you the first author?
– corey979
Dec 18 at 11:45

8

8

To clarify: Why are they authors?
– Haque
Dec 18 at 12:25

To clarify: Why are they authors?
– Haque
Dec 18 at 12:25

2

2

@Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
– spore234
Dec 18 at 12:47

@Haque from senior faculty: “your paper is relevant to my field, I offer to proof read it (i.e. correcting 2 typos) for co-authorship.”
– spore234
Dec 18 at 12:47

22

22

Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
– L_W
Dec 18 at 13:13

Proofreading a manuscript in exchange for authorship is highly questionable, even unethical if senior faculty use their position to pressure you into agreeing. In the future you can offer them an Acknowledgement instead of co-authorship to avoid having to reject them completely.
– L_W
Dec 18 at 13:13

4

4

@spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
– henning
Dec 18 at 15:28

@spore234 Your comment calls for another question: What can I do if I have offered authorship in exchange for a clerical contribution and now regret it? I’m not sure that what you’re proposing here is prudent, but there may be other ways.
– henning
Dec 18 at 15:28

5 Answers
5

active

oldest

votes

21

I think you need to consider for a moment if this is in your own benefit.

Depending on how you go about it, adding such a section without your contributors knowing can come off as a backstab, and hurt your relationship with your contributors. Especially since the paper is already under review, and you seem quite adamant to have it included. If you do let them know (and review) beforehand, it might still come off to them as off-putting that you are adamant about discrediting their contribution (in your own words “I did all the work”). Sure they might not have written the paper, but is it really true that they contributed nothing of note? It is very common for supervisors who do reviewing or who only give advice to be listed, even if they have not written any original text. Other academics are aware of this, so what do you really gain by asserting yourself as the sole author?

If you do chose to include a contribution section, make sure that you go about it in a way that does not hurt your relationship with your colleagues, something which is far more important than the exact credits of one publication.

share|improve this answer

  • 9

    There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:14

  • 1

    Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
    – Greg Martin
    Dec 20 at 7:31

  • @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
    – ElectronicToothpick
    Dec 20 at 9:07

14

I’ll take an even firmer stance than @ElectricToothpick: Don’t

To put this another way, what’s the cost-benefit analysis? The cost is that you could make a reputation for yourself as someone who looks to gain too much of the credit. This is a reputation that will hinder your ability to get on future papers. The benefit is that you get more credit for this paper.

In the papers that I have read, there is the tendency to assume that the order of authors is in decreasing contributions. I have seen one author contribution section; it was in a paper where the two authors wanted to make it clear that they were equal contributors. In that case, the response of the the folks with whom I was talking about was along the lines of “Oh, that’s nice.” Had the contribution section been more along the lines of “The first author contributed 90% of the data”, it would have been very jarring to us. The only time that this sort of a thing wouldn’t look bad would be if an advisor wants to make sure a student gets credit. But there are other ways to do this.

You can get more credit as the primary author in other ways. Principally, if you are the face that champions this paper; e.g. in conference presentations or future papers, the ideas from this paper will become tied to you without needing to intentionally draw attention to yourself.

Now, granted, my papers have been in a different realm than yours, so maybe there’s a practice of this in Econ. I think the easiest way to answer this question is to ask you how many of the papers you have read include a section like this? If you can’t point to a sizeable percent of papers that include contribution sections to denote primary contribution, the inclusion of the section is liable to draw more negative attention than positive.

share|improve this answer

  • 5

    thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
    – spore234
    Dec 18 at 12:59

  • 1

    @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
    – Van
    Dec 18 at 13:12

10

I’m usually all in favor of contribution sections (I’ve been at the border between medical and natural sciences for a long time, and I’ve met this custom in medical papers). However, for the present situation I agree with @ElectronicToothpick that for a paper already submitted and under review it is too late to take any such step. IMHO the starting of this paragraph should already be in the first draft of the paper that is sent around.

  • I’ve found contribution sections a nice instrument in situations similar to yours: having coauthors where a substantial contribution to the paper is not clear or did not happen.
    PhD students are often not in a position to question higher up faculty on whether they should not be coauthor without significant risk to their standing. The contribution section can hand over part of this to the editor who is not in any dependency situation with possibly gift coauthors.
    While I’ve not yet seen any coauthors being thrown out of the author list by an editor, I’ve seen author order (1st authors) being changed on the basis of the contributions section.
  • Even as the main author of a paper (in the sense of doing the major part of writing up and integrating the various coauthors’ text contributions) I would not write up any but my own contribution to the paper. I usually start a “Contributions” paragraph and then "CB did this, that and that." plus a comment that everyone please fill in your contributions. That way, the “small” coauthors have to spell out that they did not do anything substantial – or they may spell out valid intellectual contributions that you didn’t even suspect like being the source of the idea for solution your supervisor told you as a starting point.

  • I also think (hope?) that everyone who truly did not contribute substantially will find it very embarrassing to spell this out – and may retract their wish to be a coauthor and say they’d rather be acknowledged.
    But even if that doesn’t happen, again the editor or worst case the reader will know that they didn’t contribute.


I’d like to point out that I think contributions sections genuinely useful for readers as well – in case you have to argue for including one in the future:

  • Particularly in interdisciplinary papers, readers may want to get into contact about a variety of things. Saying who did what allows them to directly contact the person they look for.

  • And, of course, in any situation where it is important to judge the actual contribution (e.g. if someone wants to check expertise in an application).

share|improve this answer

    9

    I agree with @L_W’s comment. Proofreading a manuscript is in general not a sufficient intellectual contribution for coauthorship, although it can certainly be recognized in an acknowledgments section. You may wish to consult the authorship guidelines promoted by an organization that’s authoritative for your field and journal. In fact, a major reason such guidelines are written is to prevent exactly this sort of abuse, where senior academics can extend their CV by a few hundred feet by nominally contributing to dozens of papers.

    As an example, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says:

    The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

    • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
    • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
    • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
    • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

    […] All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged

    Other answers have pointed out that by telling the “coauthors” that they aren’t coauthors, you will rustle a lot of jimmies and obtain little to no personal career benefit. This is perfectly true, but would playing along with them be consistent with your own ethical sense? Would you feel good admitting that you did this to some hypothetical bright-eyed undergraduate who looks up to you? That’s what I ask you to consider.

    share|improve this answer

      8

      I am assuming that you are mostly concerned about getting full credit for this paper on the job market. I would offer three solutions.

      First, if you have a supervisor who is sympathetic to your point (and who agrees to this strategy), you can make them the “bad guy.” Then you can say that your supervisor said that you cannot add any additional authors at this time. You might even be able to say that you have been advised that proofreading needs to be handled as a note in the Acknowledgment section/statement, rather than authorship.

      If the supervisor is not willing to go this far, then you could ask them to emphasize your primary contribution to this article in all letters written on your behalf on the job market. This would be very standard and would do the same thing as a contribution statement, just in a more private manner.

      Finally, you could purposely look for a health Econ journal where this type of statement/disclaimer is more standard. If it is a journal norm, then your colleagues can hardly object to your including it. You might even be able to use the fact that you have to write such a statement to remove people whose contribution would give a bad impression .

      share|improve this answer

      • 2

        Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
        – Haque
        Dec 18 at 15:24

      • 1

        Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
        – Dawn
        Dec 18 at 15:25

      • If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
        – llrs
        Dec 18 at 15:40

      • @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
        – Dawn
        Dec 18 at 15:43

      • 1

        @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
        – Dawn
        Dec 18 at 15:48

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      21

      I think you need to consider for a moment if this is in your own benefit.

      Depending on how you go about it, adding such a section without your contributors knowing can come off as a backstab, and hurt your relationship with your contributors. Especially since the paper is already under review, and you seem quite adamant to have it included. If you do let them know (and review) beforehand, it might still come off to them as off-putting that you are adamant about discrediting their contribution (in your own words “I did all the work”). Sure they might not have written the paper, but is it really true that they contributed nothing of note? It is very common for supervisors who do reviewing or who only give advice to be listed, even if they have not written any original text. Other academics are aware of this, so what do you really gain by asserting yourself as the sole author?

      If you do chose to include a contribution section, make sure that you go about it in a way that does not hurt your relationship with your colleagues, something which is far more important than the exact credits of one publication.

      share|improve this answer

      • 9

        There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:14

      • 1

        Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
        – Greg Martin
        Dec 20 at 7:31

      • @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
        – ElectronicToothpick
        Dec 20 at 9:07

      21

      I think you need to consider for a moment if this is in your own benefit.

      Depending on how you go about it, adding such a section without your contributors knowing can come off as a backstab, and hurt your relationship with your contributors. Especially since the paper is already under review, and you seem quite adamant to have it included. If you do let them know (and review) beforehand, it might still come off to them as off-putting that you are adamant about discrediting their contribution (in your own words “I did all the work”). Sure they might not have written the paper, but is it really true that they contributed nothing of note? It is very common for supervisors who do reviewing or who only give advice to be listed, even if they have not written any original text. Other academics are aware of this, so what do you really gain by asserting yourself as the sole author?

      If you do chose to include a contribution section, make sure that you go about it in a way that does not hurt your relationship with your colleagues, something which is far more important than the exact credits of one publication.

      share|improve this answer

      • 9

        There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:14

      • 1

        Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
        – Greg Martin
        Dec 20 at 7:31

      • @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
        – ElectronicToothpick
        Dec 20 at 9:07

      21

      21

      21

      I think you need to consider for a moment if this is in your own benefit.

      Depending on how you go about it, adding such a section without your contributors knowing can come off as a backstab, and hurt your relationship with your contributors. Especially since the paper is already under review, and you seem quite adamant to have it included. If you do let them know (and review) beforehand, it might still come off to them as off-putting that you are adamant about discrediting their contribution (in your own words “I did all the work”). Sure they might not have written the paper, but is it really true that they contributed nothing of note? It is very common for supervisors who do reviewing or who only give advice to be listed, even if they have not written any original text. Other academics are aware of this, so what do you really gain by asserting yourself as the sole author?

      If you do chose to include a contribution section, make sure that you go about it in a way that does not hurt your relationship with your colleagues, something which is far more important than the exact credits of one publication.

      share|improve this answer

      I think you need to consider for a moment if this is in your own benefit.

      Depending on how you go about it, adding such a section without your contributors knowing can come off as a backstab, and hurt your relationship with your contributors. Especially since the paper is already under review, and you seem quite adamant to have it included. If you do let them know (and review) beforehand, it might still come off to them as off-putting that you are adamant about discrediting their contribution (in your own words “I did all the work”). Sure they might not have written the paper, but is it really true that they contributed nothing of note? It is very common for supervisors who do reviewing or who only give advice to be listed, even if they have not written any original text. Other academics are aware of this, so what do you really gain by asserting yourself as the sole author?

      If you do chose to include a contribution section, make sure that you go about it in a way that does not hurt your relationship with your colleagues, something which is far more important than the exact credits of one publication.

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      answered Dec 18 at 11:23

      ElectronicToothpick

      3414

      3414

      • 9

        There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:14

      • 1

        Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
        – Greg Martin
        Dec 20 at 7:31

      • @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
        – ElectronicToothpick
        Dec 20 at 9:07

      • 9

        There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:14

      • 1

        Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
        – Greg Martin
        Dec 20 at 7:31

      • @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
        – ElectronicToothpick
        Dec 20 at 9:07

      9

      9

      There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
      – spore234
      Dec 18 at 12:14

      There is a reason why this bothers me. The paper is in a borderline health and economics journal. While it is common in health to have many co-authors, it is very uncommon in economics. Many economics journals even restrict the number of co-authors. In economics, many ca-authors = less contribution from each individual, and this is clearly not the case in my paper.
      – spore234
      Dec 18 at 12:14

      1

      1

      Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
      – Greg Martin
      Dec 20 at 7:31

      Regarding the second sentence: The OP should hear that modifying a coauthored submission (in any but the most trivial typo-level ways) without notifying one’s coauthors, or notifying them too late for them to voice their opinion on the choice, is extremely unethical.
      – Greg Martin
      Dec 20 at 7:31

      @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
      – ElectronicToothpick
      Dec 20 at 9:07

      @Greg Martin. I agree, I should have been more explicit about that.
      – ElectronicToothpick
      Dec 20 at 9:07

      14

      I’ll take an even firmer stance than @ElectricToothpick: Don’t

      To put this another way, what’s the cost-benefit analysis? The cost is that you could make a reputation for yourself as someone who looks to gain too much of the credit. This is a reputation that will hinder your ability to get on future papers. The benefit is that you get more credit for this paper.

      In the papers that I have read, there is the tendency to assume that the order of authors is in decreasing contributions. I have seen one author contribution section; it was in a paper where the two authors wanted to make it clear that they were equal contributors. In that case, the response of the the folks with whom I was talking about was along the lines of “Oh, that’s nice.” Had the contribution section been more along the lines of “The first author contributed 90% of the data”, it would have been very jarring to us. The only time that this sort of a thing wouldn’t look bad would be if an advisor wants to make sure a student gets credit. But there are other ways to do this.

      You can get more credit as the primary author in other ways. Principally, if you are the face that champions this paper; e.g. in conference presentations or future papers, the ideas from this paper will become tied to you without needing to intentionally draw attention to yourself.

      Now, granted, my papers have been in a different realm than yours, so maybe there’s a practice of this in Econ. I think the easiest way to answer this question is to ask you how many of the papers you have read include a section like this? If you can’t point to a sizeable percent of papers that include contribution sections to denote primary contribution, the inclusion of the section is liable to draw more negative attention than positive.

      share|improve this answer

      • 5

        thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:59

      • 1

        @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
        – Van
        Dec 18 at 13:12

      14

      I’ll take an even firmer stance than @ElectricToothpick: Don’t

      To put this another way, what’s the cost-benefit analysis? The cost is that you could make a reputation for yourself as someone who looks to gain too much of the credit. This is a reputation that will hinder your ability to get on future papers. The benefit is that you get more credit for this paper.

      In the papers that I have read, there is the tendency to assume that the order of authors is in decreasing contributions. I have seen one author contribution section; it was in a paper where the two authors wanted to make it clear that they were equal contributors. In that case, the response of the the folks with whom I was talking about was along the lines of “Oh, that’s nice.” Had the contribution section been more along the lines of “The first author contributed 90% of the data”, it would have been very jarring to us. The only time that this sort of a thing wouldn’t look bad would be if an advisor wants to make sure a student gets credit. But there are other ways to do this.

      You can get more credit as the primary author in other ways. Principally, if you are the face that champions this paper; e.g. in conference presentations or future papers, the ideas from this paper will become tied to you without needing to intentionally draw attention to yourself.

      Now, granted, my papers have been in a different realm than yours, so maybe there’s a practice of this in Econ. I think the easiest way to answer this question is to ask you how many of the papers you have read include a section like this? If you can’t point to a sizeable percent of papers that include contribution sections to denote primary contribution, the inclusion of the section is liable to draw more negative attention than positive.

      share|improve this answer

      • 5

        thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:59

      • 1

        @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
        – Van
        Dec 18 at 13:12

      14

      14

      14

      I’ll take an even firmer stance than @ElectricToothpick: Don’t

      To put this another way, what’s the cost-benefit analysis? The cost is that you could make a reputation for yourself as someone who looks to gain too much of the credit. This is a reputation that will hinder your ability to get on future papers. The benefit is that you get more credit for this paper.

      In the papers that I have read, there is the tendency to assume that the order of authors is in decreasing contributions. I have seen one author contribution section; it was in a paper where the two authors wanted to make it clear that they were equal contributors. In that case, the response of the the folks with whom I was talking about was along the lines of “Oh, that’s nice.” Had the contribution section been more along the lines of “The first author contributed 90% of the data”, it would have been very jarring to us. The only time that this sort of a thing wouldn’t look bad would be if an advisor wants to make sure a student gets credit. But there are other ways to do this.

      You can get more credit as the primary author in other ways. Principally, if you are the face that champions this paper; e.g. in conference presentations or future papers, the ideas from this paper will become tied to you without needing to intentionally draw attention to yourself.

      Now, granted, my papers have been in a different realm than yours, so maybe there’s a practice of this in Econ. I think the easiest way to answer this question is to ask you how many of the papers you have read include a section like this? If you can’t point to a sizeable percent of papers that include contribution sections to denote primary contribution, the inclusion of the section is liable to draw more negative attention than positive.

      share|improve this answer

      I’ll take an even firmer stance than @ElectricToothpick: Don’t

      To put this another way, what’s the cost-benefit analysis? The cost is that you could make a reputation for yourself as someone who looks to gain too much of the credit. This is a reputation that will hinder your ability to get on future papers. The benefit is that you get more credit for this paper.

      In the papers that I have read, there is the tendency to assume that the order of authors is in decreasing contributions. I have seen one author contribution section; it was in a paper where the two authors wanted to make it clear that they were equal contributors. In that case, the response of the the folks with whom I was talking about was along the lines of “Oh, that’s nice.” Had the contribution section been more along the lines of “The first author contributed 90% of the data”, it would have been very jarring to us. The only time that this sort of a thing wouldn’t look bad would be if an advisor wants to make sure a student gets credit. But there are other ways to do this.

      You can get more credit as the primary author in other ways. Principally, if you are the face that champions this paper; e.g. in conference presentations or future papers, the ideas from this paper will become tied to you without needing to intentionally draw attention to yourself.

      Now, granted, my papers have been in a different realm than yours, so maybe there’s a practice of this in Econ. I think the easiest way to answer this question is to ask you how many of the papers you have read include a section like this? If you can’t point to a sizeable percent of papers that include contribution sections to denote primary contribution, the inclusion of the section is liable to draw more negative attention than positive.

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      edited Dec 18 at 14:51

      Federico Poloni

      24.9k1177130

      24.9k1177130

      answered Dec 18 at 12:48

      Van

      2964

      2964

      • 5

        thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:59

      • 1

        @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
        – Van
        Dec 18 at 13:12

      • 5

        thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
        – spore234
        Dec 18 at 12:59

      • 1

        @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
        – Van
        Dec 18 at 13:12

      5

      5

      thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
      – spore234
      Dec 18 at 12:59

      thanks, I tend to agree to not do it. I just wanted to add that “author contribution” sections are very common. For example in the BMJ, one of the major health studies: bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4880 Here, “GDC was responsible for the patient involvement aspects of this work” which is a strong indicator that he did not do much. He is also second to last author, the least prominent position.
      – spore234
      Dec 18 at 12:59

      1

      1

      @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
      – Van
      Dec 18 at 13:12

      @spore234 Good to know. This looks more specific to the individual field than I had thought. The only other advice I would then give is that you should follow the norm of the journal to which you are submitting. In the article you have linked, very specific tasks were linked to co-authors. If you can do something similar, it should mitigate any impression of credit-seeking.
      – Van
      Dec 18 at 13:12

      10

      I’m usually all in favor of contribution sections (I’ve been at the border between medical and natural sciences for a long time, and I’ve met this custom in medical papers). However, for the present situation I agree with @ElectronicToothpick that for a paper already submitted and under review it is too late to take any such step. IMHO the starting of this paragraph should already be in the first draft of the paper that is sent around.

      • I’ve found contribution sections a nice instrument in situations similar to yours: having coauthors where a substantial contribution to the paper is not clear or did not happen.
        PhD students are often not in a position to question higher up faculty on whether they should not be coauthor without significant risk to their standing. The contribution section can hand over part of this to the editor who is not in any dependency situation with possibly gift coauthors.
        While I’ve not yet seen any coauthors being thrown out of the author list by an editor, I’ve seen author order (1st authors) being changed on the basis of the contributions section.
      • Even as the main author of a paper (in the sense of doing the major part of writing up and integrating the various coauthors’ text contributions) I would not write up any but my own contribution to the paper. I usually start a “Contributions” paragraph and then "CB did this, that and that." plus a comment that everyone please fill in your contributions. That way, the “small” coauthors have to spell out that they did not do anything substantial – or they may spell out valid intellectual contributions that you didn’t even suspect like being the source of the idea for solution your supervisor told you as a starting point.

      • I also think (hope?) that everyone who truly did not contribute substantially will find it very embarrassing to spell this out – and may retract their wish to be a coauthor and say they’d rather be acknowledged.
        But even if that doesn’t happen, again the editor or worst case the reader will know that they didn’t contribute.


      I’d like to point out that I think contributions sections genuinely useful for readers as well – in case you have to argue for including one in the future:

      • Particularly in interdisciplinary papers, readers may want to get into contact about a variety of things. Saying who did what allows them to directly contact the person they look for.

      • And, of course, in any situation where it is important to judge the actual contribution (e.g. if someone wants to check expertise in an application).

      share|improve this answer

        10

        I’m usually all in favor of contribution sections (I’ve been at the border between medical and natural sciences for a long time, and I’ve met this custom in medical papers). However, for the present situation I agree with @ElectronicToothpick that for a paper already submitted and under review it is too late to take any such step. IMHO the starting of this paragraph should already be in the first draft of the paper that is sent around.

        • I’ve found contribution sections a nice instrument in situations similar to yours: having coauthors where a substantial contribution to the paper is not clear or did not happen.
          PhD students are often not in a position to question higher up faculty on whether they should not be coauthor without significant risk to their standing. The contribution section can hand over part of this to the editor who is not in any dependency situation with possibly gift coauthors.
          While I’ve not yet seen any coauthors being thrown out of the author list by an editor, I’ve seen author order (1st authors) being changed on the basis of the contributions section.
        • Even as the main author of a paper (in the sense of doing the major part of writing up and integrating the various coauthors’ text contributions) I would not write up any but my own contribution to the paper. I usually start a “Contributions” paragraph and then "CB did this, that and that." plus a comment that everyone please fill in your contributions. That way, the “small” coauthors have to spell out that they did not do anything substantial – or they may spell out valid intellectual contributions that you didn’t even suspect like being the source of the idea for solution your supervisor told you as a starting point.

        • I also think (hope?) that everyone who truly did not contribute substantially will find it very embarrassing to spell this out – and may retract their wish to be a coauthor and say they’d rather be acknowledged.
          But even if that doesn’t happen, again the editor or worst case the reader will know that they didn’t contribute.


        I’d like to point out that I think contributions sections genuinely useful for readers as well – in case you have to argue for including one in the future:

        • Particularly in interdisciplinary papers, readers may want to get into contact about a variety of things. Saying who did what allows them to directly contact the person they look for.

        • And, of course, in any situation where it is important to judge the actual contribution (e.g. if someone wants to check expertise in an application).

        share|improve this answer

          10

          10

          10

          I’m usually all in favor of contribution sections (I’ve been at the border between medical and natural sciences for a long time, and I’ve met this custom in medical papers). However, for the present situation I agree with @ElectronicToothpick that for a paper already submitted and under review it is too late to take any such step. IMHO the starting of this paragraph should already be in the first draft of the paper that is sent around.

          • I’ve found contribution sections a nice instrument in situations similar to yours: having coauthors where a substantial contribution to the paper is not clear or did not happen.
            PhD students are often not in a position to question higher up faculty on whether they should not be coauthor without significant risk to their standing. The contribution section can hand over part of this to the editor who is not in any dependency situation with possibly gift coauthors.
            While I’ve not yet seen any coauthors being thrown out of the author list by an editor, I’ve seen author order (1st authors) being changed on the basis of the contributions section.
          • Even as the main author of a paper (in the sense of doing the major part of writing up and integrating the various coauthors’ text contributions) I would not write up any but my own contribution to the paper. I usually start a “Contributions” paragraph and then "CB did this, that and that." plus a comment that everyone please fill in your contributions. That way, the “small” coauthors have to spell out that they did not do anything substantial – or they may spell out valid intellectual contributions that you didn’t even suspect like being the source of the idea for solution your supervisor told you as a starting point.

          • I also think (hope?) that everyone who truly did not contribute substantially will find it very embarrassing to spell this out – and may retract their wish to be a coauthor and say they’d rather be acknowledged.
            But even if that doesn’t happen, again the editor or worst case the reader will know that they didn’t contribute.


          I’d like to point out that I think contributions sections genuinely useful for readers as well – in case you have to argue for including one in the future:

          • Particularly in interdisciplinary papers, readers may want to get into contact about a variety of things. Saying who did what allows them to directly contact the person they look for.

          • And, of course, in any situation where it is important to judge the actual contribution (e.g. if someone wants to check expertise in an application).

          share|improve this answer

          I’m usually all in favor of contribution sections (I’ve been at the border between medical and natural sciences for a long time, and I’ve met this custom in medical papers). However, for the present situation I agree with @ElectronicToothpick that for a paper already submitted and under review it is too late to take any such step. IMHO the starting of this paragraph should already be in the first draft of the paper that is sent around.

          • I’ve found contribution sections a nice instrument in situations similar to yours: having coauthors where a substantial contribution to the paper is not clear or did not happen.
            PhD students are often not in a position to question higher up faculty on whether they should not be coauthor without significant risk to their standing. The contribution section can hand over part of this to the editor who is not in any dependency situation with possibly gift coauthors.
            While I’ve not yet seen any coauthors being thrown out of the author list by an editor, I’ve seen author order (1st authors) being changed on the basis of the contributions section.
          • Even as the main author of a paper (in the sense of doing the major part of writing up and integrating the various coauthors’ text contributions) I would not write up any but my own contribution to the paper. I usually start a “Contributions” paragraph and then "CB did this, that and that." plus a comment that everyone please fill in your contributions. That way, the “small” coauthors have to spell out that they did not do anything substantial – or they may spell out valid intellectual contributions that you didn’t even suspect like being the source of the idea for solution your supervisor told you as a starting point.

          • I also think (hope?) that everyone who truly did not contribute substantially will find it very embarrassing to spell this out – and may retract their wish to be a coauthor and say they’d rather be acknowledged.
            But even if that doesn’t happen, again the editor or worst case the reader will know that they didn’t contribute.


          I’d like to point out that I think contributions sections genuinely useful for readers as well – in case you have to argue for including one in the future:

          • Particularly in interdisciplinary papers, readers may want to get into contact about a variety of things. Saying who did what allows them to directly contact the person they look for.

          • And, of course, in any situation where it is important to judge the actual contribution (e.g. if someone wants to check expertise in an application).

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          answered Dec 18 at 18:41

          cbeleites

          13k2654

          13k2654

              9

              I agree with @L_W’s comment. Proofreading a manuscript is in general not a sufficient intellectual contribution for coauthorship, although it can certainly be recognized in an acknowledgments section. You may wish to consult the authorship guidelines promoted by an organization that’s authoritative for your field and journal. In fact, a major reason such guidelines are written is to prevent exactly this sort of abuse, where senior academics can extend their CV by a few hundred feet by nominally contributing to dozens of papers.

              As an example, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says:

              The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

              • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
              • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
              • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
              • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

              […] All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged

              Other answers have pointed out that by telling the “coauthors” that they aren’t coauthors, you will rustle a lot of jimmies and obtain little to no personal career benefit. This is perfectly true, but would playing along with them be consistent with your own ethical sense? Would you feel good admitting that you did this to some hypothetical bright-eyed undergraduate who looks up to you? That’s what I ask you to consider.

              share|improve this answer

                9

                I agree with @L_W’s comment. Proofreading a manuscript is in general not a sufficient intellectual contribution for coauthorship, although it can certainly be recognized in an acknowledgments section. You may wish to consult the authorship guidelines promoted by an organization that’s authoritative for your field and journal. In fact, a major reason such guidelines are written is to prevent exactly this sort of abuse, where senior academics can extend their CV by a few hundred feet by nominally contributing to dozens of papers.

                As an example, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says:

                The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

                • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
                • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
                • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
                • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

                […] All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged

                Other answers have pointed out that by telling the “coauthors” that they aren’t coauthors, you will rustle a lot of jimmies and obtain little to no personal career benefit. This is perfectly true, but would playing along with them be consistent with your own ethical sense? Would you feel good admitting that you did this to some hypothetical bright-eyed undergraduate who looks up to you? That’s what I ask you to consider.

                share|improve this answer

                  9

                  9

                  9

                  I agree with @L_W’s comment. Proofreading a manuscript is in general not a sufficient intellectual contribution for coauthorship, although it can certainly be recognized in an acknowledgments section. You may wish to consult the authorship guidelines promoted by an organization that’s authoritative for your field and journal. In fact, a major reason such guidelines are written is to prevent exactly this sort of abuse, where senior academics can extend their CV by a few hundred feet by nominally contributing to dozens of papers.

                  As an example, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says:

                  The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

                  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
                  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
                  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
                  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

                  […] All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged

                  Other answers have pointed out that by telling the “coauthors” that they aren’t coauthors, you will rustle a lot of jimmies and obtain little to no personal career benefit. This is perfectly true, but would playing along with them be consistent with your own ethical sense? Would you feel good admitting that you did this to some hypothetical bright-eyed undergraduate who looks up to you? That’s what I ask you to consider.

                  share|improve this answer

                  I agree with @L_W’s comment. Proofreading a manuscript is in general not a sufficient intellectual contribution for coauthorship, although it can certainly be recognized in an acknowledgments section. You may wish to consult the authorship guidelines promoted by an organization that’s authoritative for your field and journal. In fact, a major reason such guidelines are written is to prevent exactly this sort of abuse, where senior academics can extend their CV by a few hundred feet by nominally contributing to dozens of papers.

                  As an example, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors says:

                  The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

                  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
                  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
                  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
                  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

                  […] All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged

                  Other answers have pointed out that by telling the “coauthors” that they aren’t coauthors, you will rustle a lot of jimmies and obtain little to no personal career benefit. This is perfectly true, but would playing along with them be consistent with your own ethical sense? Would you feel good admitting that you did this to some hypothetical bright-eyed undergraduate who looks up to you? That’s what I ask you to consider.

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  answered Dec 18 at 14:44

                  Kodiologist

                  71359

                  71359

                      8

                      I am assuming that you are mostly concerned about getting full credit for this paper on the job market. I would offer three solutions.

                      First, if you have a supervisor who is sympathetic to your point (and who agrees to this strategy), you can make them the “bad guy.” Then you can say that your supervisor said that you cannot add any additional authors at this time. You might even be able to say that you have been advised that proofreading needs to be handled as a note in the Acknowledgment section/statement, rather than authorship.

                      If the supervisor is not willing to go this far, then you could ask them to emphasize your primary contribution to this article in all letters written on your behalf on the job market. This would be very standard and would do the same thing as a contribution statement, just in a more private manner.

                      Finally, you could purposely look for a health Econ journal where this type of statement/disclaimer is more standard. If it is a journal norm, then your colleagues can hardly object to your including it. You might even be able to use the fact that you have to write such a statement to remove people whose contribution would give a bad impression .

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 2

                        Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                        – Haque
                        Dec 18 at 15:24

                      • 1

                        Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:25

                      • If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                        – llrs
                        Dec 18 at 15:40

                      • @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:43

                      • 1

                        @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:48

                      8

                      I am assuming that you are mostly concerned about getting full credit for this paper on the job market. I would offer three solutions.

                      First, if you have a supervisor who is sympathetic to your point (and who agrees to this strategy), you can make them the “bad guy.” Then you can say that your supervisor said that you cannot add any additional authors at this time. You might even be able to say that you have been advised that proofreading needs to be handled as a note in the Acknowledgment section/statement, rather than authorship.

                      If the supervisor is not willing to go this far, then you could ask them to emphasize your primary contribution to this article in all letters written on your behalf on the job market. This would be very standard and would do the same thing as a contribution statement, just in a more private manner.

                      Finally, you could purposely look for a health Econ journal where this type of statement/disclaimer is more standard. If it is a journal norm, then your colleagues can hardly object to your including it. You might even be able to use the fact that you have to write such a statement to remove people whose contribution would give a bad impression .

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 2

                        Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                        – Haque
                        Dec 18 at 15:24

                      • 1

                        Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:25

                      • If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                        – llrs
                        Dec 18 at 15:40

                      • @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:43

                      • 1

                        @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:48

                      8

                      8

                      8

                      I am assuming that you are mostly concerned about getting full credit for this paper on the job market. I would offer three solutions.

                      First, if you have a supervisor who is sympathetic to your point (and who agrees to this strategy), you can make them the “bad guy.” Then you can say that your supervisor said that you cannot add any additional authors at this time. You might even be able to say that you have been advised that proofreading needs to be handled as a note in the Acknowledgment section/statement, rather than authorship.

                      If the supervisor is not willing to go this far, then you could ask them to emphasize your primary contribution to this article in all letters written on your behalf on the job market. This would be very standard and would do the same thing as a contribution statement, just in a more private manner.

                      Finally, you could purposely look for a health Econ journal where this type of statement/disclaimer is more standard. If it is a journal norm, then your colleagues can hardly object to your including it. You might even be able to use the fact that you have to write such a statement to remove people whose contribution would give a bad impression .

                      share|improve this answer

                      I am assuming that you are mostly concerned about getting full credit for this paper on the job market. I would offer three solutions.

                      First, if you have a supervisor who is sympathetic to your point (and who agrees to this strategy), you can make them the “bad guy.” Then you can say that your supervisor said that you cannot add any additional authors at this time. You might even be able to say that you have been advised that proofreading needs to be handled as a note in the Acknowledgment section/statement, rather than authorship.

                      If the supervisor is not willing to go this far, then you could ask them to emphasize your primary contribution to this article in all letters written on your behalf on the job market. This would be very standard and would do the same thing as a contribution statement, just in a more private manner.

                      Finally, you could purposely look for a health Econ journal where this type of statement/disclaimer is more standard. If it is a journal norm, then your colleagues can hardly object to your including it. You might even be able to use the fact that you have to write such a statement to remove people whose contribution would give a bad impression .

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      edited Dec 18 at 15:48

                      answered Dec 18 at 15:22

                      Dawn

                      8,18612043

                      8,18612043

                      • 2

                        Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                        – Haque
                        Dec 18 at 15:24

                      • 1

                        Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:25

                      • If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                        – llrs
                        Dec 18 at 15:40

                      • @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:43

                      • 1

                        @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:48

                      • 2

                        Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                        – Haque
                        Dec 18 at 15:24

                      • 1

                        Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:25

                      • If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                        – llrs
                        Dec 18 at 15:40

                      • @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:43

                      • 1

                        @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                        – Dawn
                        Dec 18 at 15:48

                      2

                      2

                      Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                      – Haque
                      Dec 18 at 15:24

                      Do this only if the supervisor agrees!!!!! (Just to emphasize this important point.) Otherwise, she could lose her allies and you her sympathy.
                      – Haque
                      Dec 18 at 15:24

                      1

                      1

                      Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:25

                      Ah yes, that was implicit. I will add.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:25

                      If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                      – llrs
                      Dec 18 at 15:40

                      If some author needs to be removed maybe they can go to the acknowledgment section (if the journal/field have this section too).
                      – llrs
                      Dec 18 at 15:40

                      @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:43

                      @llrs Right, that is what I was saying in the last sentence of paragraph 2.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:43

                      1

                      1

                      @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:48

                      @llrs I am agreeing they would go in Acknowledgements. I will try to clarify more.
                      – Dawn
                      Dec 18 at 15:48

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                      Can I give a lecture about my book without disclosing my real name?

                      The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                      19

                      I have a non-fiction book about language learning, entrepreneurship, productivity and personal growth in general. The problem is: I have published this book using a pen name (pseudonym). I would prefer to keep myself anonymous, as the book is filled with personal stories and experiences that I had with other people and even real-world companies and universities.

                      However, I would also like to give some lectures about the topics included in the book, in order to promote it.

                      The question is: can I give a lecture using just my pen name, without revealing my real name and affiliations? Would it be unethical or even forbidden by law?

                      As an alternative, I thought about including myself as a co-author, but this also seems to be unusual.

                      share|improve this question

                      • 5

                        Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                        – chrylis
                        Dec 14 at 8:03

                      19

                      I have a non-fiction book about language learning, entrepreneurship, productivity and personal growth in general. The problem is: I have published this book using a pen name (pseudonym). I would prefer to keep myself anonymous, as the book is filled with personal stories and experiences that I had with other people and even real-world companies and universities.

                      However, I would also like to give some lectures about the topics included in the book, in order to promote it.

                      The question is: can I give a lecture using just my pen name, without revealing my real name and affiliations? Would it be unethical or even forbidden by law?

                      As an alternative, I thought about including myself as a co-author, but this also seems to be unusual.

                      share|improve this question

                      • 5

                        Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                        – chrylis
                        Dec 14 at 8:03

                      19

                      19

                      19

                      2

                      I have a non-fiction book about language learning, entrepreneurship, productivity and personal growth in general. The problem is: I have published this book using a pen name (pseudonym). I would prefer to keep myself anonymous, as the book is filled with personal stories and experiences that I had with other people and even real-world companies and universities.

                      However, I would also like to give some lectures about the topics included in the book, in order to promote it.

                      The question is: can I give a lecture using just my pen name, without revealing my real name and affiliations? Would it be unethical or even forbidden by law?

                      As an alternative, I thought about including myself as a co-author, but this also seems to be unusual.

                      share|improve this question

                      I have a non-fiction book about language learning, entrepreneurship, productivity and personal growth in general. The problem is: I have published this book using a pen name (pseudonym). I would prefer to keep myself anonymous, as the book is filled with personal stories and experiences that I had with other people and even real-world companies and universities.

                      However, I would also like to give some lectures about the topics included in the book, in order to promote it.

                      The question is: can I give a lecture using just my pen name, without revealing my real name and affiliations? Would it be unethical or even forbidden by law?

                      As an alternative, I thought about including myself as a co-author, but this also seems to be unusual.

                      marketing authorship pseudonym

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      asked Dec 13 at 12:52

                      Chaotic

                      339215

                      339215

                      • 5

                        Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                        – chrylis
                        Dec 14 at 8:03

                      • 5

                        Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                        – chrylis
                        Dec 14 at 8:03

                      5

                      5

                      Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                      – chrylis
                      Dec 14 at 8:03

                      Keep in mind that once you appear in public people can just take pictures of you, and Facebook will happily identify you by facial recognition.
                      – chrylis
                      Dec 14 at 8:03

                      5 Answers
                      5

                      active

                      oldest

                      votes

                      22

                      Yes…but…

                      Yes, of course you can use your pen name. Your audiences need never hear anything different. None of your marketing materials need give your real name.

                      The issue comes when you need to do things officially. Say, you get booked for a lecture and they set up transportation or a hotel for you. You need ID for those, so they’ll need to be in your real name. If it’s really a secret, then you’ll want to do your own transportation and lodging.

                      The other issue is how to get paid. For that, get yourself a Fictitious Business Name. As Amadeus points out, this is also called “doing business as” (DBA). In the United States your city or county will have the paperwork.

                      You need to research that no one else is using the name, and, if they are, that it’s not in a field where yours might interfere. For example, if your pen name is used by an ice cream shop in another state, you’re good. But if it’s used by another writer, that’s potentially a problem (though not a dealbreaker).

                      Then you do the paperwork and pay the fee. In my county, it’s $45 for the first business name and $9 for any additional one (register all variations). After that, you are required to publish the notice in a local newspaper. They’ll help you with that and it’s not expensive, just a classified ad. Your Fictitious Business Name is good for 5 years.

                      Your bank will need to know your real name in addition to the FBN. Otherwise, you probably don’t have to tell anyone.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 4

                        But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                        – Michael
                        Dec 13 at 18:40

                      • 2

                        Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                        – Hannover Fist
                        Dec 13 at 18:59

                      • 3

                        @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                        – Cyn
                        Dec 13 at 19:34

                      • 2

                        Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                        – user3067860
                        Dec 13 at 19:43

                      • 3

                        It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                        – Cyn
                        Dec 13 at 19:49

                      4

                      Why would it be illegal or unethical to represent yourself as the author of the book you wrote under a different name?

                      I know I would go to a lecture given by John le Carre and never expect him to announce himself as anyone other than le Carre. Taking this example further, I might be disappointed should he take the podium and announce his real name. I want le Carre – oh, sorry, you just get the man who showed up. I would realize that this man was Carre, but never expect him to give his real name.

                      We know so many authors only by their pen names that we expect them to always go by them. Interviews with Piers Anthony were interviews with Piers Anthony.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 1

                        Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                        – The Photon
                        Dec 13 at 21:45

                      • 1

                        He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                        – Rasdashan
                        Dec 13 at 22:17

                      3

                      I’m no lawyer, but here is a list of authors who use(d) pseudonyms. Do you suppose any of them did lectures or readings? I’m just guessing, but I bet a lot of them did: Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, Stan Lee, etc.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 4

                        Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                        – Nic Hartley
                        Dec 13 at 17:52

                      3

                      At least in the USA, you can also file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your pen name, which gives you the right to sign contracts and do other stuff without revealing your real name. IANAL, but businesses use these all the time. It does become a matter of public record, but then somebody would have to go looking for it to learn your real name. You don’t have to be a business to get one, though.

                      share|improve this answer

                        2

                        Check your local laws. My home country, for example, allows you to register an official alias name, which will even be written in your passport so that you can use it on official documents. This is specifically intended for authors, artists and religious purposes.

                        If you do not have this opportunity, then yes you can absolutely give a performance under a pen name. Musicians do it all the time (e.g. Cher is actually named Cherilyn Sarkisian, Alice Cooper is actually named Vincent Damon Furnier, etc.) so I fail to see why an author could not do it, both legally and ethically.

                        Note that a public appearance can easily break your anonymity. Someone takes a picture, posts it on Facebook, and from there it is easy to either compare it with other pictures of you (face recognition and reverse image search are both readily available) or someone simply recognizes you.

                        share|improve this answer

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                          5 Answers
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                          22

                          Yes…but…

                          Yes, of course you can use your pen name. Your audiences need never hear anything different. None of your marketing materials need give your real name.

                          The issue comes when you need to do things officially. Say, you get booked for a lecture and they set up transportation or a hotel for you. You need ID for those, so they’ll need to be in your real name. If it’s really a secret, then you’ll want to do your own transportation and lodging.

                          The other issue is how to get paid. For that, get yourself a Fictitious Business Name. As Amadeus points out, this is also called “doing business as” (DBA). In the United States your city or county will have the paperwork.

                          You need to research that no one else is using the name, and, if they are, that it’s not in a field where yours might interfere. For example, if your pen name is used by an ice cream shop in another state, you’re good. But if it’s used by another writer, that’s potentially a problem (though not a dealbreaker).

                          Then you do the paperwork and pay the fee. In my county, it’s $45 for the first business name and $9 for any additional one (register all variations). After that, you are required to publish the notice in a local newspaper. They’ll help you with that and it’s not expensive, just a classified ad. Your Fictitious Business Name is good for 5 years.

                          Your bank will need to know your real name in addition to the FBN. Otherwise, you probably don’t have to tell anyone.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 4

                            But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                            – Michael
                            Dec 13 at 18:40

                          • 2

                            Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                            – Hannover Fist
                            Dec 13 at 18:59

                          • 3

                            @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:34

                          • 2

                            Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                            – user3067860
                            Dec 13 at 19:43

                          • 3

                            It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:49

                          22

                          Yes…but…

                          Yes, of course you can use your pen name. Your audiences need never hear anything different. None of your marketing materials need give your real name.

                          The issue comes when you need to do things officially. Say, you get booked for a lecture and they set up transportation or a hotel for you. You need ID for those, so they’ll need to be in your real name. If it’s really a secret, then you’ll want to do your own transportation and lodging.

                          The other issue is how to get paid. For that, get yourself a Fictitious Business Name. As Amadeus points out, this is also called “doing business as” (DBA). In the United States your city or county will have the paperwork.

                          You need to research that no one else is using the name, and, if they are, that it’s not in a field where yours might interfere. For example, if your pen name is used by an ice cream shop in another state, you’re good. But if it’s used by another writer, that’s potentially a problem (though not a dealbreaker).

                          Then you do the paperwork and pay the fee. In my county, it’s $45 for the first business name and $9 for any additional one (register all variations). After that, you are required to publish the notice in a local newspaper. They’ll help you with that and it’s not expensive, just a classified ad. Your Fictitious Business Name is good for 5 years.

                          Your bank will need to know your real name in addition to the FBN. Otherwise, you probably don’t have to tell anyone.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 4

                            But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                            – Michael
                            Dec 13 at 18:40

                          • 2

                            Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                            – Hannover Fist
                            Dec 13 at 18:59

                          • 3

                            @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:34

                          • 2

                            Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                            – user3067860
                            Dec 13 at 19:43

                          • 3

                            It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:49

                          22

                          22

                          22

                          Yes…but…

                          Yes, of course you can use your pen name. Your audiences need never hear anything different. None of your marketing materials need give your real name.

                          The issue comes when you need to do things officially. Say, you get booked for a lecture and they set up transportation or a hotel for you. You need ID for those, so they’ll need to be in your real name. If it’s really a secret, then you’ll want to do your own transportation and lodging.

                          The other issue is how to get paid. For that, get yourself a Fictitious Business Name. As Amadeus points out, this is also called “doing business as” (DBA). In the United States your city or county will have the paperwork.

                          You need to research that no one else is using the name, and, if they are, that it’s not in a field where yours might interfere. For example, if your pen name is used by an ice cream shop in another state, you’re good. But if it’s used by another writer, that’s potentially a problem (though not a dealbreaker).

                          Then you do the paperwork and pay the fee. In my county, it’s $45 for the first business name and $9 for any additional one (register all variations). After that, you are required to publish the notice in a local newspaper. They’ll help you with that and it’s not expensive, just a classified ad. Your Fictitious Business Name is good for 5 years.

                          Your bank will need to know your real name in addition to the FBN. Otherwise, you probably don’t have to tell anyone.

                          share|improve this answer

                          Yes…but…

                          Yes, of course you can use your pen name. Your audiences need never hear anything different. None of your marketing materials need give your real name.

                          The issue comes when you need to do things officially. Say, you get booked for a lecture and they set up transportation or a hotel for you. You need ID for those, so they’ll need to be in your real name. If it’s really a secret, then you’ll want to do your own transportation and lodging.

                          The other issue is how to get paid. For that, get yourself a Fictitious Business Name. As Amadeus points out, this is also called “doing business as” (DBA). In the United States your city or county will have the paperwork.

                          You need to research that no one else is using the name, and, if they are, that it’s not in a field where yours might interfere. For example, if your pen name is used by an ice cream shop in another state, you’re good. But if it’s used by another writer, that’s potentially a problem (though not a dealbreaker).

                          Then you do the paperwork and pay the fee. In my county, it’s $45 for the first business name and $9 for any additional one (register all variations). After that, you are required to publish the notice in a local newspaper. They’ll help you with that and it’s not expensive, just a classified ad. Your Fictitious Business Name is good for 5 years.

                          Your bank will need to know your real name in addition to the FBN. Otherwise, you probably don’t have to tell anyone.

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          edited Dec 14 at 4:36

                          answered Dec 13 at 15:16

                          Cyn

                          3,829328

                          3,829328

                          • 4

                            But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                            – Michael
                            Dec 13 at 18:40

                          • 2

                            Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                            – Hannover Fist
                            Dec 13 at 18:59

                          • 3

                            @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:34

                          • 2

                            Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                            – user3067860
                            Dec 13 at 19:43

                          • 3

                            It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:49

                          • 4

                            But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                            – Michael
                            Dec 13 at 18:40

                          • 2

                            Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                            – Hannover Fist
                            Dec 13 at 18:59

                          • 3

                            @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:34

                          • 2

                            Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                            – user3067860
                            Dec 13 at 19:43

                          • 3

                            It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                            – Cyn
                            Dec 13 at 19:49

                          4

                          4

                          But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                          – Michael
                          Dec 13 at 18:40

                          But if you publish the notice in a local newspaper, won’t everybody that reads the classifieds know who you are?
                          – Michael
                          Dec 13 at 18:40

                          2

                          2

                          Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                          – Hannover Fist
                          Dec 13 at 18:59

                          Celebrities apparently book travel and hotels with fake names all the time.
                          – Hannover Fist
                          Dec 13 at 18:59

                          3

                          3

                          @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                          – Cyn
                          Dec 13 at 19:34

                          @Michael yeah. And it’s the point. Because the idea behind a FBN is that you’re not doing it to fool anyone. Fortunately, you’re allowed to use any local paper. Including really small ones without searchable online archives.
                          – Cyn
                          Dec 13 at 19:34

                          2

                          2

                          Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                          – user3067860
                          Dec 13 at 19:43

                          Not to mention that the OP could actually just be recognized by someone in the audience, and then the game’s over. (Or by photo, of course…….)
                          – user3067860
                          Dec 13 at 19:43

                          3

                          3

                          It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                          – Cyn
                          Dec 13 at 19:49

                          It all depends how much of a secret it is. Most people using pen names probably don’t really care. I’ve known some people who do it to keep two types of books they write very separate and eliminate consumer confusion. For example, if they write romance novels and also children’s picture books. But some people might really care, especially if they write memoir or erotica, say. In the OP’s case, s/he says “would prefer to keep myself anonymous” and has contemplated listing her/himself as a co-author. Which means someone finding out isn’t a huge deal.
                          – Cyn
                          Dec 13 at 19:49

                          4

                          Why would it be illegal or unethical to represent yourself as the author of the book you wrote under a different name?

                          I know I would go to a lecture given by John le Carre and never expect him to announce himself as anyone other than le Carre. Taking this example further, I might be disappointed should he take the podium and announce his real name. I want le Carre – oh, sorry, you just get the man who showed up. I would realize that this man was Carre, but never expect him to give his real name.

                          We know so many authors only by their pen names that we expect them to always go by them. Interviews with Piers Anthony were interviews with Piers Anthony.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 1

                            Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                            – The Photon
                            Dec 13 at 21:45

                          • 1

                            He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                            – Rasdashan
                            Dec 13 at 22:17

                          4

                          Why would it be illegal or unethical to represent yourself as the author of the book you wrote under a different name?

                          I know I would go to a lecture given by John le Carre and never expect him to announce himself as anyone other than le Carre. Taking this example further, I might be disappointed should he take the podium and announce his real name. I want le Carre – oh, sorry, you just get the man who showed up. I would realize that this man was Carre, but never expect him to give his real name.

                          We know so many authors only by their pen names that we expect them to always go by them. Interviews with Piers Anthony were interviews with Piers Anthony.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 1

                            Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                            – The Photon
                            Dec 13 at 21:45

                          • 1

                            He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                            – Rasdashan
                            Dec 13 at 22:17

                          4

                          4

                          4

                          Why would it be illegal or unethical to represent yourself as the author of the book you wrote under a different name?

                          I know I would go to a lecture given by John le Carre and never expect him to announce himself as anyone other than le Carre. Taking this example further, I might be disappointed should he take the podium and announce his real name. I want le Carre – oh, sorry, you just get the man who showed up. I would realize that this man was Carre, but never expect him to give his real name.

                          We know so many authors only by their pen names that we expect them to always go by them. Interviews with Piers Anthony were interviews with Piers Anthony.

                          share|improve this answer

                          Why would it be illegal or unethical to represent yourself as the author of the book you wrote under a different name?

                          I know I would go to a lecture given by John le Carre and never expect him to announce himself as anyone other than le Carre. Taking this example further, I might be disappointed should he take the podium and announce his real name. I want le Carre – oh, sorry, you just get the man who showed up. I would realize that this man was Carre, but never expect him to give his real name.

                          We know so many authors only by their pen names that we expect them to always go by them. Interviews with Piers Anthony were interviews with Piers Anthony.

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          answered Dec 13 at 14:42

                          Rasdashan

                          2,957728

                          2,957728

                          • 1

                            Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                            – The Photon
                            Dec 13 at 21:45

                          • 1

                            He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                            – Rasdashan
                            Dec 13 at 22:17

                          • 1

                            Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                            – The Photon
                            Dec 13 at 21:45

                          • 1

                            He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                            – Rasdashan
                            Dec 13 at 22:17

                          1

                          1

                          Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                          – The Photon
                          Dec 13 at 21:45

                          Wait, Piers Anthony isn’t really Piers Anthony? His back-cover bio used to go into a bunch of detail about how his parents named him that (with a couple of middle names).
                          – The Photon
                          Dec 13 at 21:45

                          1

                          1

                          He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                          – Rasdashan
                          Dec 13 at 22:17

                          He uses part of his name as his pen name. Not like Carre, of course, whose real name bears no resemblance to the pseudonym
                          – Rasdashan
                          Dec 13 at 22:17

                          3

                          I’m no lawyer, but here is a list of authors who use(d) pseudonyms. Do you suppose any of them did lectures or readings? I’m just guessing, but I bet a lot of them did: Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, Stan Lee, etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 4

                            Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                            – Nic Hartley
                            Dec 13 at 17:52

                          3

                          I’m no lawyer, but here is a list of authors who use(d) pseudonyms. Do you suppose any of them did lectures or readings? I’m just guessing, but I bet a lot of them did: Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, Stan Lee, etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 4

                            Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                            – Nic Hartley
                            Dec 13 at 17:52

                          3

                          3

                          3

                          I’m no lawyer, but here is a list of authors who use(d) pseudonyms. Do you suppose any of them did lectures or readings? I’m just guessing, but I bet a lot of them did: Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, Stan Lee, etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          I’m no lawyer, but here is a list of authors who use(d) pseudonyms. Do you suppose any of them did lectures or readings? I’m just guessing, but I bet a lot of them did: Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, Stan Lee, etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          answered Dec 13 at 14:31

                          Ken Mohnkern

                          3,303521

                          3,303521

                          • 4

                            Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                            – Nic Hartley
                            Dec 13 at 17:52

                          • 4

                            Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                            – Nic Hartley
                            Dec 13 at 17:52

                          4

                          4

                          Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                          – Nic Hartley
                          Dec 13 at 17:52

                          Stan Lee’s real name was never a secret (just not widely publicized), Pablo Neruda wasn’t in the US (whose laws apply in this case), and Mark Twain lived in a time where names weren’t even remotely as necessary as they are today. None of those are particularly good examples to follow for an author seeking to keep their real name hidden. Looking at previous authors is a good idea, but you’ll need to make sure that their strategy actually applies.
                          – Nic Hartley
                          Dec 13 at 17:52

                          3

                          At least in the USA, you can also file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your pen name, which gives you the right to sign contracts and do other stuff without revealing your real name. IANAL, but businesses use these all the time. It does become a matter of public record, but then somebody would have to go looking for it to learn your real name. You don’t have to be a business to get one, though.

                          share|improve this answer

                            3

                            At least in the USA, you can also file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your pen name, which gives you the right to sign contracts and do other stuff without revealing your real name. IANAL, but businesses use these all the time. It does become a matter of public record, but then somebody would have to go looking for it to learn your real name. You don’t have to be a business to get one, though.

                            share|improve this answer

                              3

                              3

                              3

                              At least in the USA, you can also file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your pen name, which gives you the right to sign contracts and do other stuff without revealing your real name. IANAL, but businesses use these all the time. It does become a matter of public record, but then somebody would have to go looking for it to learn your real name. You don’t have to be a business to get one, though.

                              share|improve this answer

                              At least in the USA, you can also file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your pen name, which gives you the right to sign contracts and do other stuff without revealing your real name. IANAL, but businesses use these all the time. It does become a matter of public record, but then somebody would have to go looking for it to learn your real name. You don’t have to be a business to get one, though.

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              answered Dec 13 at 14:45

                              Amadeus

                              45.8k357145

                              45.8k357145

                                  2

                                  Check your local laws. My home country, for example, allows you to register an official alias name, which will even be written in your passport so that you can use it on official documents. This is specifically intended for authors, artists and religious purposes.

                                  If you do not have this opportunity, then yes you can absolutely give a performance under a pen name. Musicians do it all the time (e.g. Cher is actually named Cherilyn Sarkisian, Alice Cooper is actually named Vincent Damon Furnier, etc.) so I fail to see why an author could not do it, both legally and ethically.

                                  Note that a public appearance can easily break your anonymity. Someone takes a picture, posts it on Facebook, and from there it is easy to either compare it with other pictures of you (face recognition and reverse image search are both readily available) or someone simply recognizes you.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                    2

                                    Check your local laws. My home country, for example, allows you to register an official alias name, which will even be written in your passport so that you can use it on official documents. This is specifically intended for authors, artists and religious purposes.

                                    If you do not have this opportunity, then yes you can absolutely give a performance under a pen name. Musicians do it all the time (e.g. Cher is actually named Cherilyn Sarkisian, Alice Cooper is actually named Vincent Damon Furnier, etc.) so I fail to see why an author could not do it, both legally and ethically.

                                    Note that a public appearance can easily break your anonymity. Someone takes a picture, posts it on Facebook, and from there it is easy to either compare it with other pictures of you (face recognition and reverse image search are both readily available) or someone simply recognizes you.

                                    share|improve this answer

                                      2

                                      2

                                      2

                                      Check your local laws. My home country, for example, allows you to register an official alias name, which will even be written in your passport so that you can use it on official documents. This is specifically intended for authors, artists and religious purposes.

                                      If you do not have this opportunity, then yes you can absolutely give a performance under a pen name. Musicians do it all the time (e.g. Cher is actually named Cherilyn Sarkisian, Alice Cooper is actually named Vincent Damon Furnier, etc.) so I fail to see why an author could not do it, both legally and ethically.

                                      Note that a public appearance can easily break your anonymity. Someone takes a picture, posts it on Facebook, and from there it is easy to either compare it with other pictures of you (face recognition and reverse image search are both readily available) or someone simply recognizes you.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      Check your local laws. My home country, for example, allows you to register an official alias name, which will even be written in your passport so that you can use it on official documents. This is specifically intended for authors, artists and religious purposes.

                                      If you do not have this opportunity, then yes you can absolutely give a performance under a pen name. Musicians do it all the time (e.g. Cher is actually named Cherilyn Sarkisian, Alice Cooper is actually named Vincent Damon Furnier, etc.) so I fail to see why an author could not do it, both legally and ethically.

                                      Note that a public appearance can easily break your anonymity. Someone takes a picture, posts it on Facebook, and from there it is easy to either compare it with other pictures of you (face recognition and reverse image search are both readily available) or someone simply recognizes you.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      answered Dec 14 at 8:39

                                      Tom

                                      2,18847

                                      2,18847

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                                          Which is more important in determining author order: time spent or results obtained?

                                          The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                                          23

                                          This is in the field of life sciences, i.e. a field in which the order of authors is not determined randomly but reflects author contributions (whatever that means); in other words, being first author is better than being second, which is better than third etc – except for the very last authors, who are generally the lab heads.

                                          We’re publishing a paper and two teammates have a disagreement on the order in which their names should be listed. We basically explored several strategies that were at the time all quite reasonable, so there was really no way to determine if one made more sense than another. We found that testing strategies one by one rigorously (one person per hypothesis to validate/debunk) was the most productive way to move forward. Our paper describes several mechanisms that we demonstrated could work for a certain problem.

                                          Team member A tested several hypotheses, including one of the four that made it to the final paper.

                                          Team member B tested more hypotheses (they were working on the project full-time, as opposed to A), and demonstrated that they were not scalable / valid strategies for our purposes. Interesting, useful for us, but not paper-worthy.

                                          Each one of them has a pretty strong claim for having a better authorship position:

                                          Teammate A designed and 100% tested one of the strategies that did work and that we chose to report in the paper, so their contribution is quite obvious. On the other hand teammate B spent more time on the project, debunked working hypotheses (not publishable but it had to be done at some point) and helped with the validation of other designs that worked – a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project.

                                          Obviously results include a part of chance (picking the correct hypothesis/molecule/group/dataset), but time spent on the project is not a perfect metric either (working smart matters more than working long hours).

                                          Without asking for a definite answer, how do you generally weight the importance of “what the paper shows in the end” vs. “the important but not article-worthy preliminary work”? In other words, how do you measure “contribution”? I would like to come up with a rational and objective way to determine who contributed more significantly – at least by the journal’s standards.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          • 6

                                            I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                            – user2768
                                            Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          • 2

                                            Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                            – Mowgli
                                            Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          • 3

                                            I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                            – David Ketcheson
                                            Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          • 5

                                            @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                            – scaaahu
                                            Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          • 10

                                            This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                            – Hakaishin
                                            Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          23

                                          This is in the field of life sciences, i.e. a field in which the order of authors is not determined randomly but reflects author contributions (whatever that means); in other words, being first author is better than being second, which is better than third etc – except for the very last authors, who are generally the lab heads.

                                          We’re publishing a paper and two teammates have a disagreement on the order in which their names should be listed. We basically explored several strategies that were at the time all quite reasonable, so there was really no way to determine if one made more sense than another. We found that testing strategies one by one rigorously (one person per hypothesis to validate/debunk) was the most productive way to move forward. Our paper describes several mechanisms that we demonstrated could work for a certain problem.

                                          Team member A tested several hypotheses, including one of the four that made it to the final paper.

                                          Team member B tested more hypotheses (they were working on the project full-time, as opposed to A), and demonstrated that they were not scalable / valid strategies for our purposes. Interesting, useful for us, but not paper-worthy.

                                          Each one of them has a pretty strong claim for having a better authorship position:

                                          Teammate A designed and 100% tested one of the strategies that did work and that we chose to report in the paper, so their contribution is quite obvious. On the other hand teammate B spent more time on the project, debunked working hypotheses (not publishable but it had to be done at some point) and helped with the validation of other designs that worked – a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project.

                                          Obviously results include a part of chance (picking the correct hypothesis/molecule/group/dataset), but time spent on the project is not a perfect metric either (working smart matters more than working long hours).

                                          Without asking for a definite answer, how do you generally weight the importance of “what the paper shows in the end” vs. “the important but not article-worthy preliminary work”? In other words, how do you measure “contribution”? I would like to come up with a rational and objective way to determine who contributed more significantly – at least by the journal’s standards.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          • 6

                                            I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                            – user2768
                                            Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          • 2

                                            Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                            – Mowgli
                                            Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          • 3

                                            I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                            – David Ketcheson
                                            Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          • 5

                                            @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                            – scaaahu
                                            Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          • 10

                                            This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                            – Hakaishin
                                            Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          23

                                          23

                                          23

                                          1

                                          This is in the field of life sciences, i.e. a field in which the order of authors is not determined randomly but reflects author contributions (whatever that means); in other words, being first author is better than being second, which is better than third etc – except for the very last authors, who are generally the lab heads.

                                          We’re publishing a paper and two teammates have a disagreement on the order in which their names should be listed. We basically explored several strategies that were at the time all quite reasonable, so there was really no way to determine if one made more sense than another. We found that testing strategies one by one rigorously (one person per hypothesis to validate/debunk) was the most productive way to move forward. Our paper describes several mechanisms that we demonstrated could work for a certain problem.

                                          Team member A tested several hypotheses, including one of the four that made it to the final paper.

                                          Team member B tested more hypotheses (they were working on the project full-time, as opposed to A), and demonstrated that they were not scalable / valid strategies for our purposes. Interesting, useful for us, but not paper-worthy.

                                          Each one of them has a pretty strong claim for having a better authorship position:

                                          Teammate A designed and 100% tested one of the strategies that did work and that we chose to report in the paper, so their contribution is quite obvious. On the other hand teammate B spent more time on the project, debunked working hypotheses (not publishable but it had to be done at some point) and helped with the validation of other designs that worked – a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project.

                                          Obviously results include a part of chance (picking the correct hypothesis/molecule/group/dataset), but time spent on the project is not a perfect metric either (working smart matters more than working long hours).

                                          Without asking for a definite answer, how do you generally weight the importance of “what the paper shows in the end” vs. “the important but not article-worthy preliminary work”? In other words, how do you measure “contribution”? I would like to come up with a rational and objective way to determine who contributed more significantly – at least by the journal’s standards.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          This is in the field of life sciences, i.e. a field in which the order of authors is not determined randomly but reflects author contributions (whatever that means); in other words, being first author is better than being second, which is better than third etc – except for the very last authors, who are generally the lab heads.

                                          We’re publishing a paper and two teammates have a disagreement on the order in which their names should be listed. We basically explored several strategies that were at the time all quite reasonable, so there was really no way to determine if one made more sense than another. We found that testing strategies one by one rigorously (one person per hypothesis to validate/debunk) was the most productive way to move forward. Our paper describes several mechanisms that we demonstrated could work for a certain problem.

                                          Team member A tested several hypotheses, including one of the four that made it to the final paper.

                                          Team member B tested more hypotheses (they were working on the project full-time, as opposed to A), and demonstrated that they were not scalable / valid strategies for our purposes. Interesting, useful for us, but not paper-worthy.

                                          Each one of them has a pretty strong claim for having a better authorship position:

                                          Teammate A designed and 100% tested one of the strategies that did work and that we chose to report in the paper, so their contribution is quite obvious. On the other hand teammate B spent more time on the project, debunked working hypotheses (not publishable but it had to be done at some point) and helped with the validation of other designs that worked – a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project.

                                          Obviously results include a part of chance (picking the correct hypothesis/molecule/group/dataset), but time spent on the project is not a perfect metric either (working smart matters more than working long hours).

                                          Without asking for a definite answer, how do you generally weight the importance of “what the paper shows in the end” vs. “the important but not article-worthy preliminary work”? In other words, how do you measure “contribution”? I would like to come up with a rational and objective way to determine who contributed more significantly – at least by the journal’s standards.

                                          authorship

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          edited Dec 12 at 10:27

                                          David Ketcheson

                                          27.9k684138

                                          27.9k684138

                                          asked Dec 12 at 8:25

                                          Mowgli

                                          30117

                                          30117

                                          • 6

                                            I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                            – user2768
                                            Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          • 2

                                            Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                            – Mowgli
                                            Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          • 3

                                            I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                            – David Ketcheson
                                            Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          • 5

                                            @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                            – scaaahu
                                            Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          • 10

                                            This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                            – Hakaishin
                                            Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          • 6

                                            I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                            – user2768
                                            Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          • 2

                                            Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                            – Mowgli
                                            Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          • 3

                                            I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                            – David Ketcheson
                                            Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          • 5

                                            @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                            – scaaahu
                                            Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          • 10

                                            This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                            – Hakaishin
                                            Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          6

                                          6

                                          I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                          – user2768
                                          Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          I feel your question is off-topic, because answers will be “primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.” I haven’t voted to close. Perhaps you can edit your question to avoid subjectivity?
                                          – user2768
                                          Dec 12 at 8:29

                                          2

                                          2

                                          Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                          – Mowgli
                                          Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          Thanks for the feedback; I’m not sure why this question calls for opinions though – at least not more than most authorship-related questions. I’m precisely asking for a rational, objective and neutral way to weight contributions. Don’t all questions about authorship order fall under the umbrella of “primarily opinion based” then? See eg here and here
                                          – Mowgli
                                          Dec 12 at 8:38

                                          3

                                          3

                                          I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                          – David Ketcheson
                                          Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          I think you should add your field to the question title; the answer would be totally different for instance if this were mathematics (although in that case it’s typical to just use alphabetical order).
                                          – David Ketcheson
                                          Dec 12 at 10:29

                                          5

                                          5

                                          @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                          – scaaahu
                                          Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          @DavidKetcheson I thought the OP said that in the opening sentence.
                                          – scaaahu
                                          Dec 12 at 10:48

                                          10

                                          10

                                          This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                          – Hakaishin
                                          Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          This questions shows beautifully everything wrong with the current system
                                          – Hakaishin
                                          Dec 12 at 15:14

                                          6 Answers
                                          6

                                          active

                                          oldest

                                          votes

                                          27

                                          In my field, this would clearly be shared (first) authorship.

                                          As for the exact positions, in my experience one of A and B would also have been spending a lot of time as a de facto project lead that determines the course of the project and does most of the writing. In fact, in my field this would almost always be B, unless A somehow has the capabilities of effectively leading multiple projects and delegating vast proportions of the work in those projects.

                                          I don’t place a lot of value on happening to find the right solution for a problem. The way you describe this, it seems almost stochastic: A proposed four solutions and got lucky, B proposed more solutions but didn’t get lucky. Obviously the situation and value of contributions changes if B could not have found the solution, but A (possibly because of greater experience) could have.

                                          Two other considerations: first, exact position on a paper can have very different values for different people. A first first authorship can be absolutely vital for scientists who are rounding off their PhD or postdoc, whereas scientists who aren’t rounding off could also obtain this in a next project. Second, maybe there are ways to even out the author contributions? One way would be to do another project together and flip author positions for that one. Another way would be that the person who doesn’t get author precedence can present the work at conferences for the first year. And maybe there are better ideas that someone in your lab can come up with.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 1

                                            I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                            – Bas Jansen
                                            Dec 12 at 22:34

                                          • 1

                                            @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                            – JeffE
                                            Dec 13 at 5:02

                                          • 4

                                            @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                            – Designerpot
                                            Dec 13 at 8:18

                                          10

                                          I think the explorations that failed can be as valuable as the one that succeeded, and should be reported along with the success.

                                          See What to do when you spend several months working on an idea that fails in a masters thesis?

                                          This argues for B as lead author. which, along with the fact that they worked harder/longer might settle the question.

                                          (I am fortunate that in mathematics the convention is alphabetical order.)

                                          share|improve this answer

                                            8

                                            Weighting contributions in a fair way can be all but impossible. As you noticed, contribution is a vector with many dimensions (time, effort, results, novelty, and whatnot). All attempts on sorting complex contributions on a single dimension axis will need agreement

                                            • not only about the respective extent (which is difficult to measure),

                                            • but also about the weighting of the elements (which needs mutual consent, as there is no “correct” answer).

                                            If the authors disagree about ordering of their names, they are obviously assuming different matrices for projecting the contribution vectors to a one-dimensional value (or are greedy).

                                            To resolve conflicts like these, you can always mention the authors in alphabetical order – maybe including the dept. chair (and add a tiny notice to the paper in order to show you did that).

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • 3

                                              The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                              – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                              Dec 12 at 9:52

                                            • 3

                                              @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                              – jvb
                                              Dec 12 at 11:08

                                            4

                                            If we took a generic view of research, it could be argued that both positive and negative results can be worthy of the top billing. However, each paper usually has a single focus. Whoever’s work is most closely associated with that focus would be the lead author; everyone else provides substantiating or supporting material.

                                            From that perspective, Person A sounds like the lead author and Person B is a supporting author – although perhaps worthy of special mention in the acknowledgements, subject to faculty policies on acknowledging authors in papers they authored. It might seem unfair to the work B put in, but if B’s contribution is “not publishable” as you put it, it would seem odd to publish the work with B as lead author.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                              – Lawrence
                                              Dec 12 at 22:47

                                            • @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                              – Lawrence
                                              Dec 12 at 22:49

                                            • OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                              – Ethan Bolker
                                              Dec 12 at 22:49

                                            2

                                            Who actually wrote more of the paper? If there’s a measurable difference in terms of who put how much down on the page, then the person who wrote more gets authorship priority. Nothing gets published until the paper is written, so this can be a good and equitable tie-breaker in this kind of scenario.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • 2

                                              Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                              – FooBar
                                              Dec 13 at 9:25

                                            • Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                              – EAdrianH
                                              Dec 14 at 17:52

                                            -2

                                            You have answered your own question: ‘working smart matters more than working long hours.’ In your example you state one person ‘made a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project’, presumably less than the other person. This is telling.

                                            The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. This is supported by the fact that we never include all the contributions by people which made a publication possible; if so then your authorship would be several billion names long [reference every paper written since the mid-20th century].

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • 3

                                              The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                              – Kimball
                                              Dec 12 at 20:11

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                                            27

                                            In my field, this would clearly be shared (first) authorship.

                                            As for the exact positions, in my experience one of A and B would also have been spending a lot of time as a de facto project lead that determines the course of the project and does most of the writing. In fact, in my field this would almost always be B, unless A somehow has the capabilities of effectively leading multiple projects and delegating vast proportions of the work in those projects.

                                            I don’t place a lot of value on happening to find the right solution for a problem. The way you describe this, it seems almost stochastic: A proposed four solutions and got lucky, B proposed more solutions but didn’t get lucky. Obviously the situation and value of contributions changes if B could not have found the solution, but A (possibly because of greater experience) could have.

                                            Two other considerations: first, exact position on a paper can have very different values for different people. A first first authorship can be absolutely vital for scientists who are rounding off their PhD or postdoc, whereas scientists who aren’t rounding off could also obtain this in a next project. Second, maybe there are ways to even out the author contributions? One way would be to do another project together and flip author positions for that one. Another way would be that the person who doesn’t get author precedence can present the work at conferences for the first year. And maybe there are better ideas that someone in your lab can come up with.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • 1

                                              I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                              – Bas Jansen
                                              Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            • 1

                                              @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                              – JeffE
                                              Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            • 4

                                              @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                              – Designerpot
                                              Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            27

                                            In my field, this would clearly be shared (first) authorship.

                                            As for the exact positions, in my experience one of A and B would also have been spending a lot of time as a de facto project lead that determines the course of the project and does most of the writing. In fact, in my field this would almost always be B, unless A somehow has the capabilities of effectively leading multiple projects and delegating vast proportions of the work in those projects.

                                            I don’t place a lot of value on happening to find the right solution for a problem. The way you describe this, it seems almost stochastic: A proposed four solutions and got lucky, B proposed more solutions but didn’t get lucky. Obviously the situation and value of contributions changes if B could not have found the solution, but A (possibly because of greater experience) could have.

                                            Two other considerations: first, exact position on a paper can have very different values for different people. A first first authorship can be absolutely vital for scientists who are rounding off their PhD or postdoc, whereas scientists who aren’t rounding off could also obtain this in a next project. Second, maybe there are ways to even out the author contributions? One way would be to do another project together and flip author positions for that one. Another way would be that the person who doesn’t get author precedence can present the work at conferences for the first year. And maybe there are better ideas that someone in your lab can come up with.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            • 1

                                              I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                              – Bas Jansen
                                              Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            • 1

                                              @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                              – JeffE
                                              Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            • 4

                                              @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                              – Designerpot
                                              Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            27

                                            27

                                            27

                                            In my field, this would clearly be shared (first) authorship.

                                            As for the exact positions, in my experience one of A and B would also have been spending a lot of time as a de facto project lead that determines the course of the project and does most of the writing. In fact, in my field this would almost always be B, unless A somehow has the capabilities of effectively leading multiple projects and delegating vast proportions of the work in those projects.

                                            I don’t place a lot of value on happening to find the right solution for a problem. The way you describe this, it seems almost stochastic: A proposed four solutions and got lucky, B proposed more solutions but didn’t get lucky. Obviously the situation and value of contributions changes if B could not have found the solution, but A (possibly because of greater experience) could have.

                                            Two other considerations: first, exact position on a paper can have very different values for different people. A first first authorship can be absolutely vital for scientists who are rounding off their PhD or postdoc, whereas scientists who aren’t rounding off could also obtain this in a next project. Second, maybe there are ways to even out the author contributions? One way would be to do another project together and flip author positions for that one. Another way would be that the person who doesn’t get author precedence can present the work at conferences for the first year. And maybe there are better ideas that someone in your lab can come up with.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            In my field, this would clearly be shared (first) authorship.

                                            As for the exact positions, in my experience one of A and B would also have been spending a lot of time as a de facto project lead that determines the course of the project and does most of the writing. In fact, in my field this would almost always be B, unless A somehow has the capabilities of effectively leading multiple projects and delegating vast proportions of the work in those projects.

                                            I don’t place a lot of value on happening to find the right solution for a problem. The way you describe this, it seems almost stochastic: A proposed four solutions and got lucky, B proposed more solutions but didn’t get lucky. Obviously the situation and value of contributions changes if B could not have found the solution, but A (possibly because of greater experience) could have.

                                            Two other considerations: first, exact position on a paper can have very different values for different people. A first first authorship can be absolutely vital for scientists who are rounding off their PhD or postdoc, whereas scientists who aren’t rounding off could also obtain this in a next project. Second, maybe there are ways to even out the author contributions? One way would be to do another project together and flip author positions for that one. Another way would be that the person who doesn’t get author precedence can present the work at conferences for the first year. And maybe there are better ideas that someone in your lab can come up with.

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            share|improve this answer

                                            answered Dec 12 at 9:05

                                            Designerpot

                                            2,676415

                                            2,676415

                                            • 1

                                              I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                              – Bas Jansen
                                              Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            • 1

                                              @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                              – JeffE
                                              Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            • 4

                                              @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                              – Designerpot
                                              Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            • 1

                                              I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                              – Bas Jansen
                                              Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            • 1

                                              @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                              – JeffE
                                              Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            • 4

                                              @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                              – Designerpot
                                              Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            1

                                            1

                                            I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                            – Bas Jansen
                                            Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            I agree with this sentiment, but what if one of the potential shared authors objects heavily against this (yes, it happens)?
                                            – Bas Jansen
                                            Dec 12 at 22:34

                                            1

                                            1

                                            @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                            – JeffE
                                            Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            @BasJansen Then you work it out, like adults.
                                            – JeffE
                                            Dec 13 at 5:02

                                            4

                                            4

                                            @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                            – Designerpot
                                            Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            @BasJansen One thing is clearly missing from my answer and that is the role of the supervisor. I agree with JeffE’s suggestion that scientists (and other adults) should be able to work something like this out between themselves. The whole discussion should also be guided and, if push comes to shove, decided, by the supervisor.
                                            – Designerpot
                                            Dec 13 at 8:18

                                            10

                                            I think the explorations that failed can be as valuable as the one that succeeded, and should be reported along with the success.

                                            See What to do when you spend several months working on an idea that fails in a masters thesis?

                                            This argues for B as lead author. which, along with the fact that they worked harder/longer might settle the question.

                                            (I am fortunate that in mathematics the convention is alphabetical order.)

                                            share|improve this answer

                                              10

                                              I think the explorations that failed can be as valuable as the one that succeeded, and should be reported along with the success.

                                              See What to do when you spend several months working on an idea that fails in a masters thesis?

                                              This argues for B as lead author. which, along with the fact that they worked harder/longer might settle the question.

                                              (I am fortunate that in mathematics the convention is alphabetical order.)

                                              share|improve this answer

                                                10

                                                10

                                                10

                                                I think the explorations that failed can be as valuable as the one that succeeded, and should be reported along with the success.

                                                See What to do when you spend several months working on an idea that fails in a masters thesis?

                                                This argues for B as lead author. which, along with the fact that they worked harder/longer might settle the question.

                                                (I am fortunate that in mathematics the convention is alphabetical order.)

                                                share|improve this answer

                                                I think the explorations that failed can be as valuable as the one that succeeded, and should be reported along with the success.

                                                See What to do when you spend several months working on an idea that fails in a masters thesis?

                                                This argues for B as lead author. which, along with the fact that they worked harder/longer might settle the question.

                                                (I am fortunate that in mathematics the convention is alphabetical order.)

                                                share|improve this answer

                                                share|improve this answer

                                                share|improve this answer

                                                answered Dec 12 at 16:45

                                                Ethan Bolker

                                                3,8621119

                                                3,8621119

                                                    8

                                                    Weighting contributions in a fair way can be all but impossible. As you noticed, contribution is a vector with many dimensions (time, effort, results, novelty, and whatnot). All attempts on sorting complex contributions on a single dimension axis will need agreement

                                                    • not only about the respective extent (which is difficult to measure),

                                                    • but also about the weighting of the elements (which needs mutual consent, as there is no “correct” answer).

                                                    If the authors disagree about ordering of their names, they are obviously assuming different matrices for projecting the contribution vectors to a one-dimensional value (or are greedy).

                                                    To resolve conflicts like these, you can always mention the authors in alphabetical order – maybe including the dept. chair (and add a tiny notice to the paper in order to show you did that).

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 3

                                                      The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                      – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                      Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    • 3

                                                      @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                      – jvb
                                                      Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    8

                                                    Weighting contributions in a fair way can be all but impossible. As you noticed, contribution is a vector with many dimensions (time, effort, results, novelty, and whatnot). All attempts on sorting complex contributions on a single dimension axis will need agreement

                                                    • not only about the respective extent (which is difficult to measure),

                                                    • but also about the weighting of the elements (which needs mutual consent, as there is no “correct” answer).

                                                    If the authors disagree about ordering of their names, they are obviously assuming different matrices for projecting the contribution vectors to a one-dimensional value (or are greedy).

                                                    To resolve conflicts like these, you can always mention the authors in alphabetical order – maybe including the dept. chair (and add a tiny notice to the paper in order to show you did that).

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 3

                                                      The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                      – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                      Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    • 3

                                                      @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                      – jvb
                                                      Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    8

                                                    8

                                                    8

                                                    Weighting contributions in a fair way can be all but impossible. As you noticed, contribution is a vector with many dimensions (time, effort, results, novelty, and whatnot). All attempts on sorting complex contributions on a single dimension axis will need agreement

                                                    • not only about the respective extent (which is difficult to measure),

                                                    • but also about the weighting of the elements (which needs mutual consent, as there is no “correct” answer).

                                                    If the authors disagree about ordering of their names, they are obviously assuming different matrices for projecting the contribution vectors to a one-dimensional value (or are greedy).

                                                    To resolve conflicts like these, you can always mention the authors in alphabetical order – maybe including the dept. chair (and add a tiny notice to the paper in order to show you did that).

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    Weighting contributions in a fair way can be all but impossible. As you noticed, contribution is a vector with many dimensions (time, effort, results, novelty, and whatnot). All attempts on sorting complex contributions on a single dimension axis will need agreement

                                                    • not only about the respective extent (which is difficult to measure),

                                                    • but also about the weighting of the elements (which needs mutual consent, as there is no “correct” answer).

                                                    If the authors disagree about ordering of their names, they are obviously assuming different matrices for projecting the contribution vectors to a one-dimensional value (or are greedy).

                                                    To resolve conflicts like these, you can always mention the authors in alphabetical order – maybe including the dept. chair (and add a tiny notice to the paper in order to show you did that).

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    answered Dec 12 at 9:11

                                                    jvb

                                                    1,657417

                                                    1,657417

                                                    • 3

                                                      The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                      – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                      Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    • 3

                                                      @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                      – jvb
                                                      Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    • 3

                                                      The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                      – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                      Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    • 3

                                                      @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                      – jvb
                                                      Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    3

                                                    3

                                                    The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                    – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                    Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    The problem is that in your resume & cv it might be problematic to explain that. There are even departments demanding only “first author” papers of the graduate applicant to their Ph.D. program for this reason. And this is only one of the problem. Sorry but this can never be a solution in many departments, including but not limited to Chemistry and Environmental Engineering.
                                                    – Güray Hatipoğlu
                                                    Dec 12 at 9:52

                                                    3

                                                    3

                                                    @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                    – jvb
                                                    Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    @GürayHatipoğlu if someone needs to be first author “to make it count” (e.g. for obtaining some degree), obviously this question should have been settled beforehand. The prospective “first author” should have made that claim earlier, and see if the others were still willing to contribute on that condition.If he didn’t do that… he’ll might have to settle with “less” than first authorship! In the worst case, the other authors still might retract their contribution, leaving the would-be first author with a completely different situation.
                                                    – jvb
                                                    Dec 12 at 11:08

                                                    4

                                                    If we took a generic view of research, it could be argued that both positive and negative results can be worthy of the top billing. However, each paper usually has a single focus. Whoever’s work is most closely associated with that focus would be the lead author; everyone else provides substantiating or supporting material.

                                                    From that perspective, Person A sounds like the lead author and Person B is a supporting author – although perhaps worthy of special mention in the acknowledgements, subject to faculty policies on acknowledging authors in papers they authored. It might seem unfair to the work B put in, but if B’s contribution is “not publishable” as you put it, it would seem odd to publish the work with B as lead author.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    • @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    • OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                      – Ethan Bolker
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    4

                                                    If we took a generic view of research, it could be argued that both positive and negative results can be worthy of the top billing. However, each paper usually has a single focus. Whoever’s work is most closely associated with that focus would be the lead author; everyone else provides substantiating or supporting material.

                                                    From that perspective, Person A sounds like the lead author and Person B is a supporting author – although perhaps worthy of special mention in the acknowledgements, subject to faculty policies on acknowledging authors in papers they authored. It might seem unfair to the work B put in, but if B’s contribution is “not publishable” as you put it, it would seem odd to publish the work with B as lead author.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    • @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    • OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                      – Ethan Bolker
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    4

                                                    4

                                                    4

                                                    If we took a generic view of research, it could be argued that both positive and negative results can be worthy of the top billing. However, each paper usually has a single focus. Whoever’s work is most closely associated with that focus would be the lead author; everyone else provides substantiating or supporting material.

                                                    From that perspective, Person A sounds like the lead author and Person B is a supporting author – although perhaps worthy of special mention in the acknowledgements, subject to faculty policies on acknowledging authors in papers they authored. It might seem unfair to the work B put in, but if B’s contribution is “not publishable” as you put it, it would seem odd to publish the work with B as lead author.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    If we took a generic view of research, it could be argued that both positive and negative results can be worthy of the top billing. However, each paper usually has a single focus. Whoever’s work is most closely associated with that focus would be the lead author; everyone else provides substantiating or supporting material.

                                                    From that perspective, Person A sounds like the lead author and Person B is a supporting author – although perhaps worthy of special mention in the acknowledgements, subject to faculty policies on acknowledging authors in papers they authored. It might seem unfair to the work B put in, but if B’s contribution is “not publishable” as you put it, it would seem odd to publish the work with B as lead author.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    edited Dec 12 at 22:48

                                                    answered Dec 12 at 12:11

                                                    Lawrence

                                                    1,04618

                                                    1,04618

                                                    • @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    • @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    • OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                      – Ethan Bolker
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    • @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    • @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                      – Lawrence
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    • OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                      – Ethan Bolker
                                                      Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                    – Lawrence
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    @EthanBolker It was just a light-hearted comment 🙂 , though in an intractable dispute about name order, it would probably determine the outcome. I also acknowledge the benefit of having heavy-weights listed among the authors, especially when one is just starting out.
                                                    – Lawrence
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:47

                                                    @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                    – Lawrence
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    @EthanBolker It’s not central to my answer, so I’ve deleted the distracting introduction.
                                                    – Lawrence
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                    – Ethan Bolker
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    OK I’ll delete my comment.
                                                    – Ethan Bolker
                                                    Dec 12 at 22:49

                                                    2

                                                    Who actually wrote more of the paper? If there’s a measurable difference in terms of who put how much down on the page, then the person who wrote more gets authorship priority. Nothing gets published until the paper is written, so this can be a good and equitable tie-breaker in this kind of scenario.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 2

                                                      Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                      – FooBar
                                                      Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    • Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                      – EAdrianH
                                                      Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    2

                                                    Who actually wrote more of the paper? If there’s a measurable difference in terms of who put how much down on the page, then the person who wrote more gets authorship priority. Nothing gets published until the paper is written, so this can be a good and equitable tie-breaker in this kind of scenario.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 2

                                                      Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                      – FooBar
                                                      Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    • Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                      – EAdrianH
                                                      Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    2

                                                    2

                                                    2

                                                    Who actually wrote more of the paper? If there’s a measurable difference in terms of who put how much down on the page, then the person who wrote more gets authorship priority. Nothing gets published until the paper is written, so this can be a good and equitable tie-breaker in this kind of scenario.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    Who actually wrote more of the paper? If there’s a measurable difference in terms of who put how much down on the page, then the person who wrote more gets authorship priority. Nothing gets published until the paper is written, so this can be a good and equitable tie-breaker in this kind of scenario.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    answered Dec 12 at 20:04

                                                    EAdrianH

                                                    292

                                                    292

                                                    • 2

                                                      Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                      – FooBar
                                                      Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    • Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                      – EAdrianH
                                                      Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    • 2

                                                      Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                      – FooBar
                                                      Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    • Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                      – EAdrianH
                                                      Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    2

                                                    2

                                                    Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                    – FooBar
                                                    Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    Nothing gets published until all the experiments are run either…
                                                    – FooBar
                                                    Dec 13 at 9:25

                                                    Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                    – EAdrianH
                                                    Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    Not disagreeing with that, but that’s why anyone who ran substantive experiments should get authorship. My point is just that if you perform the task of literally authoring the paper, it gives you a decent claim to first authorship. I usually look at the author order as mapping to “wrote the manuscript,” “did lab work,” “ran a fancy instrument,” and “paid for it all.” But, like I said, “tie-breaker.” This isn’t about phrasing complete, iron-clad rules, but rather looking for the minor factors that tip the scale one way or another.
                                                    – EAdrianH
                                                    Dec 14 at 17:52

                                                    -2

                                                    You have answered your own question: ‘working smart matters more than working long hours.’ In your example you state one person ‘made a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project’, presumably less than the other person. This is telling.

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. This is supported by the fact that we never include all the contributions by people which made a publication possible; if so then your authorship would be several billion names long [reference every paper written since the mid-20th century].

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 3

                                                      The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                      – Kimball
                                                      Dec 12 at 20:11

                                                    -2

                                                    You have answered your own question: ‘working smart matters more than working long hours.’ In your example you state one person ‘made a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project’, presumably less than the other person. This is telling.

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. This is supported by the fact that we never include all the contributions by people which made a publication possible; if so then your authorship would be several billion names long [reference every paper written since the mid-20th century].

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 3

                                                      The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                      – Kimball
                                                      Dec 12 at 20:11

                                                    -2

                                                    -2

                                                    -2

                                                    You have answered your own question: ‘working smart matters more than working long hours.’ In your example you state one person ‘made a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project’, presumably less than the other person. This is telling.

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. This is supported by the fact that we never include all the contributions by people which made a publication possible; if so then your authorship would be several billion names long [reference every paper written since the mid-20th century].

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    You have answered your own question: ‘working smart matters more than working long hours.’ In your example you state one person ‘made a contribution of 40-50% of the work on two different parts of the project’, presumably less than the other person. This is telling.

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. This is supported by the fact that we never include all the contributions by people which made a publication possible; if so then your authorship would be several billion names long [reference every paper written since the mid-20th century].

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    answered Dec 12 at 11:50

                                                    Justin Ford

                                                    1

                                                    1

                                                    • 3

                                                      The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                      – Kimball
                                                      Dec 12 at 20:11

                                                    • 3

                                                      The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                      – Kimball
                                                      Dec 12 at 20:11

                                                    3

                                                    3

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                    – Kimball
                                                    Dec 12 at 20:11

                                                    The only metric that is accepted is the contribution to published work. – But what does that mean? Cf. academia.stackexchange.com/q/73480/19607
                                                    – Kimball
                                                    Dec 12 at 20:11

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                                                    Outsourcing trivial authorless work

                                                    The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                                                    up vote
                                                    27
                                                    down vote

                                                    favorite

                                                    5

                                                    I have worked on a problem for close to two years. I feel I have an adequate theoretical solution. However I feel to get some backing on the theory I need some quantitative hard computer data. It is only a few days work of programming. Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement? This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required. Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    • 60

                                                      How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                      – Bryan Krause
                                                      Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    • 71

                                                      Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                      – Bakuriu
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    • 87

                                                      Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                      – Azor Ahai
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    • 62

                                                      Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                      – Konrad Rudolph
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    • 55

                                                      In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                      – Salvador Dali
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    up vote
                                                    27
                                                    down vote

                                                    favorite

                                                    5

                                                    I have worked on a problem for close to two years. I feel I have an adequate theoretical solution. However I feel to get some backing on the theory I need some quantitative hard computer data. It is only a few days work of programming. Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement? This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required. Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    • 60

                                                      How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                      – Bryan Krause
                                                      Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    • 71

                                                      Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                      – Bakuriu
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    • 87

                                                      Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                      – Azor Ahai
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    • 62

                                                      Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                      – Konrad Rudolph
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    • 55

                                                      In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                      – Salvador Dali
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    up vote
                                                    27
                                                    down vote

                                                    favorite

                                                    5

                                                    up vote
                                                    27
                                                    down vote

                                                    favorite

                                                    5
                                                    5

                                                    I have worked on a problem for close to two years. I feel I have an adequate theoretical solution. However I feel to get some backing on the theory I need some quantitative hard computer data. It is only a few days work of programming. Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement? This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required. Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    I have worked on a problem for close to two years. I feel I have an adequate theoretical solution. However I feel to get some backing on the theory I need some quantitative hard computer data. It is only a few days work of programming. Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement? This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required. Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    publications ethics authorship code

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    share|improve this question

                                                    edited Dec 10 at 1:49

                                                    eykanal

                                                    41.7k1599205

                                                    41.7k1599205

                                                    asked Dec 7 at 15:11

                                                    Freeman.

                                                    262127

                                                    262127

                                                    • 60

                                                      How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                      – Bryan Krause
                                                      Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    • 71

                                                      Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                      – Bakuriu
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    • 87

                                                      Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                      – Azor Ahai
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    • 62

                                                      Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                      – Konrad Rudolph
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    • 55

                                                      In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                      – Salvador Dali
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    • 60

                                                      How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                      – Bryan Krause
                                                      Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    • 71

                                                      Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                      – Bakuriu
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    • 87

                                                      Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                      – Azor Ahai
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    • 62

                                                      Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                      – Konrad Rudolph
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    • 55

                                                      In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                      – Salvador Dali
                                                      Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    60

                                                    60

                                                    How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                    – Bryan Krause
                                                    Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    How do you know it’s only a few days work? What are the limits on you implementing this yourself?
                                                    – Bryan Krause
                                                    Dec 7 at 18:16

                                                    71

                                                    71

                                                    Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                    – Bakuriu
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    Why don’t you want to credit them? Given that you need this and they provided a significant contribution they deserve to be coauthors.
                                                    – Bakuriu
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:01

                                                    87

                                                    87

                                                    Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                    – Azor Ahai
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    Why would an undergrad volunteer to do something for you for literally no benefit for themself? And second, are you really sure that they’d turn out good enough work that you could trust it without spending an equally long chunk of time verifying it yourself?
                                                    – Azor Ahai
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:06

                                                    62

                                                    62

                                                    Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                    – Konrad Rudolph
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    Why not add them as an author? What’s your reason for not wanting to do so in the first place?
                                                    – Konrad Rudolph
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:18

                                                    55

                                                    55

                                                    In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                    – Salvador Dali
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    In the area where I live, the seasoned programmer earns ~ 100$ per hour. In addition to this I have noticed that people do not become seasoned programmers out of a sudden, it takes years of work to become a seasoned programmer.
                                                    – Salvador Dali
                                                    Dec 7 at 19:45

                                                    13 Answers
                                                    13

                                                    active

                                                    oldest

                                                    votes

                                                    up vote
                                                    18
                                                    down vote

                                                    accepted

                                                    Rather than proposing this to an individual, which should be interpreted as coercive since there is a power imbalance, you could publish a call for help, describing what you need and what you offer. Be clear that it is only an ack on offer, not authorship, and no money is involved. Ask for people to apply. You can choose among those who offer to help. Some probably will, but if not, you should consider something more substantial.

                                                    If there is a learning component, you could describe that in your “call” as well. It might make it more interesting, even though there is no academic credit involved.


                                                    Let me respond, indirectly, to some of the comments here by people who seem to think I’m suggesting an unethical course of action. Actually, all I tried to do was assure that coercion wasn’t part of the OP’s actions by suggesting an open call for assistance with little reward.

                                                    If I ask someone to mow my lawn and there is a power imbalance between us it is coercive and thus unethical. If I put out a general call for someone who would be willing to mow my lawn for no return but my thanks, it is no longer unethical. I hope that is recognized.

                                                    In fact, professors are on the “losing” end of exactly this sort of arrangement. Society has asked us to dedicate our lives, and often fund our own education, to educate the next generation. The tangible rewards are actually few. I earned, over a 45 year career about half of what I’d have earned working in industry (I actually have anecdotal evidence). Society asked me to do this, offering thanks and (often) respect, but not actually a “fair” compensation. Society depends, in fact, on lots of people being willing to take this deal, finding that the rewards are other than monetary or power or …

                                                    Most of you reading this, and most of you disagreeing with me, have taken this deal or are in the process of preparing yourselves to accept it. While I’d like a “better” deal, I’ve never been unhappy with the deal as long as I had the respect of my peers and as long as I felt I was contributing.

                                                    Not every relationship needs to be strictly transactional. If I ask for assistance, offering only thanks but little else, I don’t expect any particular person to accept, but I depend on the fact that those that do will find, somehow, their own rewards in helping.

                                                    Another analogy is precisely what happens on this site. People ask for help. There is very little offered in return for that help and yet other people – you and me – are willing to help and get our reward however we can. Sometimes the respect of our peers is enough.

                                                    I recognize that the current question may be a bit different, but I don’t see that I’m suggesting finding a “sucker” if a student accepts such a request and finds in his or her own way a reason, educational or otherwise, for doing so. Those who are grant funded should, of course, build in funds for such things, but not everyone is. Many faculty at undergraduate institutions are required to do research but not compensated for it. You are paid for teaching and for being supportive of undergraduates and helping them grow and advance.

                                                    I also recognize that some here believe that any help on a paper should result in co-authorship. I think that is misplaced. I agree that those who contribute to the intellectual content of a paper should be recognized, probably as authors, but if someone works at my direction, then it is a different situation. Should someone translating my poor language skills into a polished paper be a co-author? Should my first Calculus instructor be a co-author in every Analysis paper I write?

                                                    Note that I didn’t, and don’t, know all of the details here and so can’t actually comment whether as student writing code to validate a theory has contributed to the intellectual content (My field is CS, actually). It may be or not, depending on the level of direction, which I don’t have evidence for. Creativity should be recognized, certainly. Don’t guess that I think otherwise. There are situations in which authorship would be appropriate and others for which an acknowledgment is sufficient.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 36

                                                      But if an undergrad believes this would be a valuable experience in itself and decides to apply, does it make it ethical to not give them authorship status nonetheless? Just because the terms are clear beforehand does not mean the deal is fair.
                                                      – Alexis
                                                      Dec 9 at 12:56

                                                    • 37

                                                      It’s still unethical if you find a sucker willing to submit.
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:12

                                                    • 16

                                                      I agree with @einpoklum. Just because you make it clear up front that you are going to have someone do work and you won’t make them co-author does not solve the ethical problem that arised in the first place. OP accepted this answer probably because it is more comfortable, but a good answer should definitely address this (see iayork’s answer).
                                                      – Ian
                                                      Dec 10 at 10:10

                                                    • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Additionally, some flags have been raised on some overly aggressive comments. Please keep it civil, folks.
                                                      – eykanal
                                                      Dec 11 at 23:32

                                                    up vote
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                                                    down vote

                                                    The fact that to a seasoned programmer the work is easy doesn’t have anything to do with it. As you describe it, this is work that’s required for the publication. Without it, you don’t have a paper. With it, you do. Therefore the programmer contributed significantly (critically) to the paper, and therefore the programmer should be an author.

                                                    The fact that it’s quick and easy for a programmer simply means that programmers have spent significant time and effort learning skills that you don’t have. If you consider the work trivial, then go out and learn the skills yourself, and do the work yourself. If that’s too much work, then put an appropriate value on that work and offer authorship.

                                                    An example in my field is histopathology. I can take tissue slides to an expert who will look at them for five minutes and provide an interpretation. That expert becomes a co-author, not because of their five minutes of work but because of the decades of experience behind it.

                                                    Collaborators shouldn’t need to run a bloody gauntlet and engage in hand-to-hand combat to become co-authors. If they provide a skill that contributes significantly to the paper, that should be enough.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • Extended discussions in the comments have been moved to chat. Please check whether your concern hasn’t already been mentioned before writing a new comment. @iayork: Please try to implement important clarifications into your answer.
                                                      – Wrzlprmft
                                                      Dec 9 at 9:24

                                                    • 13

                                                      @Freeman I also do not see why the OP does not want to acknowledge the programmer as a co-author. Any contribution is a contribution. A contributor as a co-author. What are you going to loose? Since you made this question, you already has feeling that there is something wrong in not acknowledging the programmer. Most theorists unfortunately, because they do not have practical experience, they think it is trivial. Implementation is not trivial at all. It also require effort and most of the time reveal flaws in the theoretical part or articulate the theory which seems dummy without it.
                                                      – user9371654
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:47

                                                    • 1

                                                      “this is work that’s required for the publication” wouldn’t you say the same for a translator?
                                                      – Mehrdad
                                                      Dec 12 at 1:44

                                                    • 2

                                                      @mehrdad just about every possible silly counterexample was already put forward in the discussion, which was removed as too long. All were irrelevant. Please don’t start again.
                                                      – iayork
                                                      Dec 12 at 10:50

                                                    up vote
                                                    42
                                                    down vote

                                                    Seasoned’s programmer’s rate would probably be $100-$1000 per day. This, assuming that your estimation is correct (dangerous assumption) means you are asking for a volunteer to provide you with $500-$5000 of free labor(assuming that the work takes 5 days).

                                                    I also find it strange that you mention time for a seasoned’s programmer, but want to hire an undergrad – the difference in the time required to finish the job might differ much. And no work is “Trivial” if it requires “few days” of expert’s work.

                                                    Undergrad’s work might also be of lower quality because of his lack of experience – what if the program is faulty and returns wrong results? How would you know that?

                                                    Ultimately it comes down to how you arrange it – you might find someone willing to do it for free. I suggest considering potential gains (is undergrad contributing $2000 in his time not enough to become a co-author?) and threats ( what if the work takes much longer? what if the program has bugs? what if the undergrad can’t do it? ).

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 10

                                                      It’s a pretty small and elite group of programmers who make $1000 per day; conversely, $100 per day is not much above minimum wage in some places in the US. So realistically, I think that range could be a bit narrower, like $200-400 per day for an average competent professional software developer in the US.
                                                      – David Z
                                                      Dec 8 at 1:43

                                                    • 6

                                                      @DavidZ I didn’t want to try to account for all the different variables – experience, technology, location… I provided approximated rates so that I would have some numbres to show. Entry level software engineers at the big five earn 100k+ USD per year, that’s more than 400 USD a day, and they are not experienced. Bottom line is, they are not pennies.
                                                      – MatthewRock
                                                      Dec 8 at 2:30

                                                    • 6

                                                      @DavidZ $100/hour is actually a pretty low consulting fee for a seasoned programmer out in The World, especially in places like California. And 10 hours of work per day for a short-term project isn’t outrageous either.
                                                      – JeffE
                                                      Dec 10 at 3:03

                                                    • 2

                                                      (2 comments up) Well, the “big five” tech companies and others in tech hubs are not representative of what programmers make in general. If the OP is in one of these areas and has to pay a rate competitive with what those companies are paying, then yes, you have to go beyond $400/hour, but even then, $1000/hour is very high. And in a lot of other places the salaries are a lot lower. (1 comment up) @JeffE I suppose you’re right in that consulting fees can be 2-3x higher than salary, I didn’t consider that.
                                                      – David Z
                                                      Dec 10 at 3:12

                                                    • 3

                                                      @DavidZ Did you misread $100-$1000 per day as per hour? Because, yes, $1000/hour is absurdly high; $1000 per day (~$125/hour) is still a high salary, but not absurdly so, and actually well within the ballpark for an experienced contractor.
                                                      – Nic Hartley
                                                      Dec 10 at 18:40

                                                    up vote
                                                    36
                                                    down vote

                                                    Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay

                                                    “Ethically wrong”? Some answers say it isn’t (though I disagree)

                                                    But that is the wrong question to ask

                                                    However, I feel [that] to get some backing on the theory, I need… computer data.

                                                    • You’ve worked on a problem for two years.
                                                    • You’re going to trust “a couple days” free work from a random undergrad to prove it?

                                                    If you don’t know enough to code it yourself, how do you know the code is right?

                                                    In other words (and this isn’t meant as harsh or flippant) if you can’t tell me how you will be able to tell the difference between these two outcomes:

                                                    1. A person taking your assignment and coding something which produces the answer you expect
                                                    2. A person writing a program which will prove or disprove your theory

                                                    …then you don’t need the code, do you?

                                                    If it turns out you think #2 is correct, but later someone proves that #1 is what really happened… that’s bad.


                                                    This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required. Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    This information was added after I wrote my answer. I answered with the assumption that OP was getting an undergrad to do the code because s/he lacked the knowledge.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 38

                                                      Anyone who thinks that they can get useful, valid work out of an short-term undergraduate is probably mistaken. Anyone who’s trying to do so while shafting that person on credit and pay deserves to be mistaken.
                                                      – CJ59
                                                      Dec 8 at 0:44

                                                    • 2

                                                      While I agree with the latter part of your answer, the first sentence is so wrong that I have to -1 you. It’s terribly wrong. If you edit that out I would definitely upvote the fine point regarding verifying the code.
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:32

                                                    • 2

                                                      @einpoklum Do you mean where I say, “Maybe not” to it being ethically wrong? If so, please note I put that there because others have argued that under the right circumstances (agreement in advance, etc.) it would not be ethically wrong (at their institution / their field, presumably). I consider it wrong, and wouldn’t advise it on a moral basis – but there are other answers here that say how to make it right ethically, and they seem to have valid points (regardless of my feelings). My main point is code correctness – sidestepping ethics because I doubt OP will care my opinion on the ethics.
                                                      – J. Chris Compton
                                                      Dec 10 at 15:45

                                                    • 1

                                                      I doubt OP will care my opinion on the ethics.” OP specifically asked whether it would be ethically wrong. This suggests that they care about your (and everybody else’s) opinion about ethics. It’s fine if you don’t want to comment about it, but you did actually state an opinion (“maybe not”) that suggests that you don’t feel strongly that it’s unethical, so your response to einpoklum where you now say that you “consider it wrong” makes you sound inconsistent. My suggestion is to edit your answer and either remove the ethics comment or give a clear statement of your position on this.
                                                      – Dan Romik
                                                      Dec 10 at 16:31

                                                    • @J.ChrisCompton: So why not edit your comment into the answer, instead of the “maybe not”? Replace it with “in my opinion, it is, but n this is not the right question etc.”
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 10 at 17:00

                                                    up vote
                                                    28
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                                                    I don’t suppose it’s unethical so long as you are clear in your expectations and proposed reward (which is effectively nothing), and the other party fully understands what they are getting into. This could easily become exploitative, however, as you are hoping to get someone to work for you while offering really nothing of value in return. If you are a professor or are some other type of authority figure over the student, I’d tread very carefully here, as you could be exerting undue influence over this person.

                                                    I notice that you plan to approach an undergraduate student about this, which could very easily be seen as preying on someone who doesn’t know any better. If you have a really interesting problem that’s so cool to work on that someone should be happy to do it for a simple “thank you”, why not approach a true “seasoned programmer” instead of an undergraduate student? If true professionals find your proposal unpalatable, I’d say it would be unethical to try to hoodwink a less experienced person into the deal.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 19

                                                      Nicely said. If you offer to pay, it is fine. If you offer co-authorship it is fine. I would have taken either as an undergraduate programmer. If you have department approval and offer course-credit it is fine. But if you use a position of at least apparent and possibly actual authority to pressure a person that is at least apparently subordinate into it with then it is unethical and could be illegal depending on the details.
                                                      – TimothyAWiseman
                                                      Dec 7 at 22:31

                                                    • 1

                                                      “I’m looking for a sucker undergrad who’s willing to do work I really need done, and for which I’m paid for, while receiving literally no reward.” <- If OP made this clear, and someone showed up, I don’t see how it becomes legitimate.
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:30

                                                    up vote
                                                    22
                                                    down vote

                                                    Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement?

                                                    Yes. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the most terrible ethical offense, but if forced to choose one of the two words “no” or “yes” to answer the question “would it be ethically wrong?”, I’d go with “yes”.

                                                    The reason why it’s wrong is that you are going against established conventions of what authorship means. You think that by offering a student some other sort of reward for doing part of the work involved in publishing a paper, whether it be an acknowledgement, a letter of recommendation, or the opportunity to add another experience to their CV, then it is okay to not list them as a coauthor. But this is wrong, for two reasons: first, there is a clear power differential at play here that makes it likely the student may be tempted to go along with your scheme even without really finding the arrangement very fair or agreeable. In other words, it’s exploitation and an abuse of authority (of a sort we hear about all too often on this site unfortunately).

                                                    Second, and perhaps even more importantly, it is not just the student you are offending against. The scientific community has an expectation to be given honest and accurate information about who contributed meaningfully to the creation of the paper. And, by current conventions at least, “several days of work by a seasoned programmer” is more than enough to be counted as a coauthor. I find the idea of you reaching a private agreement with the student to deprive the community of that information by having the student give up authorship rights quite problematic, even overlooking the separate issue of exploitation. Imagine for example if rich people started paying famous academics to collaborate on research with them, giving them a high salary with the agreement that the famous and super-talented person will give up their coauthorship rights. Is this just a private transaction between two consenting adults that doesn’t hurt anyone else? No, of course it’s much less innocent and is harmful, since it deprives the community of information it needs to function effectively, and goes against agreed-upon norms of what’s acceptable.

                                                    Now, of course, in your situation you are actually the person who will have done almost all the research, and that’s fine. The student being a coauthor doesn’t mean that they will get half the credit for something you worked on for two years. It would be completely legitimate for you to make it clear to people what each coauthor contributed in any way necessary (by writing it in the paper, or in your CV or publication list, research statement etc). You absolutely deserve to get the correct portion of credit, and there is an honest way to make that happen. But as for coauthorship, the student programmer should get it, since they will have contributed time, creative thinking and a technical skill that’s quite nontrivial (at least, nontrivial enough that you yourself don’t possess it) to the project, and those are the accepted criteria for being a coauthor.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • I would +1 you for mentioning an offense against the community; but I think you’re being to lenient with your downplaying of the inethicality (sp?) of OP’s suggestion.
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:34

                                                    • @einpoklum thanks, glad you partially agree. I did say it was unethical, it’s just less unethical (and less obviously unethical) than some other things I can think of. Actually I noticed that my answer was the only one that brings up the community aspect, so it’s nice to see that someone took notice. 🙂
                                                      – Dan Romik
                                                      Dec 9 at 20:47

                                                    • You’ve inspired me to expand my answer accordingly, so now there are two.
                                                      – einpoklum
                                                      Dec 9 at 21:52

                                                    up vote
                                                    13
                                                    down vote

                                                    It would be exploitative and quite unethical, yes.

                                                    It is only a few days work of programming.

                                                    You’ll know that after the programming is done. Preliminary estimates of programming time are typically much lower than actual effort expended, not to mention the significant amount of not-actual-programming overhead we tend not to account for.

                                                    Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days volunteer work without pay

                                                    So, you want someone to do work you need for your research – for which you yourself are paid, and for which your university is funded – without the person doing the work getting paid?

                                                    You bet this is ethically wrong. Ethically, morally, and in some countries also legally.

                                                    It should also be noted you would not just mistreating that student. You would be:

                                                    • Legitimizing younger, inexperienced researchers not getting acknowledged for their work.
                                                    • Legitimizing students not getting acknowledged for their material contribution to the work of people higher-up the ladder.
                                                    • Legitimizing exploitative employment practices in academia, where it is unfortunately quite common to squeeze unpaid work out of people who depend on the system in various ways.

                                                    So your suggested act would be offensive both to the academic community at large. If I were in your university you could expect harsh action from the nontenured academic staff union upon us finding out you’ve done this.

                                                    to get some backing on the theory I need some quantitative hard computer data… and not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement?

                                                    Since this data is necessary objectively, it will also be necessary to present it, to some extent, in the paper. And this necessary part of the paper will be generated by that undergrad programmer. … Sounds like a co-author to me; and you cannot drop co-authors.

                                                    Also, while it is sometimes legitimate to ask people about whether they want authorship or not – when an undergraduate is involved, there’s a power and knowledge imbalance which makes it unethical to ask them to give up co-authorship.

                                                    What you could do – if you like – is describe the extent of his/her involvement; but even this may be impolite (depending on the conventions in your field of research).

                                                    This is only for time reasons as I am not familiar with tools required.

                                                    So the co-author will even utilize some expertise which you do not have? An even stronger co-authorship.

                                                    If not for time reasons, I would have written most papers in most scientific fields all on my own. I just need enough time to become familiar with all of that stuff.

                                                    Everything will be given as cook book to the interested programmer.

                                                    That would be nice and a good idea regardless of who writes the code. However, an unethical, immoral, and exploitative act is not excused by a related socially-beneficial and commendable act.

                                                    Oh, and, just so you know – implementing something to just work for a paper and implementing it for publication so that other people can use it to is a significant difference in the amount of work necessary.


                                                    I also very much agree with @DanRomik’s observation that you would be committing an offense against the scientific community, not just the undergrad; and with @JChrisCompton’s observation that you’re ignoring the issue of verification/trustworthiness of the code.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 2

                                                      You make quite a few, perhaps unwarranted, assumptions. In many undergraduate institutions in the US, the professor is paid to teach, but still expected to do research. There are no grants involved and no pay for the research. It is just an expectation. Any pay would come out of the professor’s pocket and he/she may not be especially well paid to begin with. In such an institution, all of the students are undergraduates, and in many cases they have fairly close relationship with their professors. Not everything there needs to be transactional as you seem to prefer.
                                                      – Buffy
                                                      Dec 9 at 22:11

                                                    • Likewise, two years of work at such an institution is nothing like two years at a top research institution. It is done in odd moments between classes and during summer “breaks”. There are no university funds to support it, maybe not even for publication fees.
                                                      – Buffy
                                                      Dec 9 at 22:26

                                                    • 1

                                                      To clarify, when I said OP’s actions would be an offense against the community I meant something specific: that OP would be depriving the community of information about who contributed meaningfully to the paper. That’s different from what you are referring to in your answer about legitimizing exploitation and so on. (By the way, can’t you accuse any wrongdoer of offending everyone else by legitimizing wrongdoing of that particular sort? This hardly seems to be worth mentioning. The main thing that’s wrong with doing something wrong is that it is wrong, not that it “legitimizes wrongdoing”.)
                                                      – Dan Romik
                                                      Dec 9 at 22:26

                                                    up vote
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                                                    Authorship

                                                    (Ethical) academic authorship is independent of other forms of rewards, so it doesn’t really matter here whether you pay somebody or not. The crucial aspect here is whether your programmer made a creative contribution. Now, what is creative is somewhat fuzzy and difficult to assess, but a good litmus test can be obtained from considering what a non-creative contribution would look like:

                                                    • It always produces the same result with respect to your research question. (Irrelevant or unavoidable differences like the programming language, statistical fluctuations, etc. are excluded.)
                                                    • It follows a clear established protocol.
                                                    • Understanding your research question yields no advantage to the contributor, e.g., in form of assessing the plausibility of results (also see J. Chris Compton’s answer).

                                                    If this applies to the contribution you seek, then it is likely not creative. However, as others noted, this is very likely not the case here.

                                                    Payment

                                                    Your programmer is very likely not helping you for purely altruistic reasons, so there must be something else you have to offer.
                                                    I can only see the following options:

                                                    • Scientific credit (authorship). This requires a scientific contribution, which you excluded to be the case.
                                                    • Formal payment. You also excluded this.
                                                    • A prospect of recommendation letter, good grades, thesis projects would imply an abuse of power and in some cases bribery. This could very well be compared to just receiving money from the student.
                                                    • Getting insight into the scientific process would be in conflict with your claim that this is a trivial task.

                                                    Sidenote

                                                    I often found that tackling a research question from another point of view yielded valuable new insights or perspectives in unexpected ways. Given that you spent two years on your question, investing two days in programming will almost certainly be a worthwhile experience on average.

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                    • 2

                                                      This is the best answer. Either this is truly “crunching” (akin to buying a microscope or feeding the rats) — in which case it should be paid or otherwise remunerated — or it is a creative contribution, in which case it deserves authorship. Whether the student consents to be exploited is irrelevant. I could maybe see a case if OP were willing to let the successful student continue to collaborate with him and earn authorship on future papers (as well as a LoR), but no evidence this is the case here.
                                                      – cag51
                                                      Dec 10 at 4:17

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                                                    I don’t think is unethical if you provide something of value of exchange to the prospective student. Will he gain an understanding of some theory that he/she’s interested in as part of the engagement? Be upfront at what you’re offering to your prospective collaborator.

                                                    If you just want a free coder then yes this is unethical. This is pure and simple exploitation, and abuse of power from your side. Would you like to be on the other side of this exchange?

                                                    ps. Check the regulations of your institution!

                                                    share|improve this answer

                                                      up vote
                                                      7
                                                      down vote

                                                      Is the output of the computer program going to be included in the paper? If so, that output has an author, and that author deserves credit. But who is the author? Is it the computer? Is it the program? Or is it the programmer? I think it’s the programmer.

                                                      If the output has no intellectual merit, why does it add value to the paper? Would including the program input instead of the output serve the reader equally?

                                                      Contrary to popular belief, programming is intellectual activity. It deserves respect.

                                                      share|improve this answer

                                                        up vote
                                                        7
                                                        down vote

                                                        I am a software engineer. There’s a story that has always resonated with me whenever a friend asks for “free” software development

                                                        The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an
                                                        admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper
                                                        napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed
                                                        back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant
                                                        amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so
                                                        much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It
                                                        took me 40 years”

                                                        Even though I am no Picasso in the software world, the overall message is the same and applies to any professional. A good story to consider when asking for “free” help

                                                        Blog Link to story

                                                        share|improve this answer

                                                          up vote
                                                          0
                                                          down vote

                                                          In many institutions, it is common for undergraduates to help with research, either paid or for credits. It is not necessarily unethical to post your project and ask for help, but you have to consider what the student is getting from this experience.

                                                          Authorship might reasonably be off the table, but at the same time the undergraduate might come with some interesting insights/get more involved. You never know.

                                                          Regardless of the authorship or financial aspect, there is some form of payment that, for some, is invaluable: the experience and the advice. For most undergraduates, getting involved in research (especially if they are actively interested in pursuing such a career) can be tough.

                                                          However, you should consider that undergrad less as the one doing the dirty work and more as your mentee. You are, after all, more experienced than him, and you could provide some useful insights into academia or into your field. This comes of course at the cost of you spending some (possibly rather fun) time with the undergraduate, sharing your knowledge.

                                                          To put is shortly, if you find somebody willing to be just a coding monkey, it’s not necessarily unethical, but adopting the coding monkey as a (possibly very short term) tutee is a win-win situation.

                                                          share|improve this answer

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                                                            0
                                                            down vote

                                                            Would it be ethically wrong to recruit an undergrad for a few days
                                                            volunteer work without pay to get the computer crunching part done and
                                                            not mention him as a coauthor and only mention as acknowledgement?

                                                            It’s not ethically wrong if the engineering contribution is too tiny, compared to the whole contribution of the paper.

                                                            In fact, it’s very common that professors/researchers hire several undergrads/interns to work on engineering a tool, and only list them in the acknowledgment. (I can provide many examples).

                                                            However, it is ethically wrong if the engineering contribution is substantial, and you don’t list them as co-author. Whether there contribution is enough for co-authorship depends on your judgement, but your judgement can be wrong.

                                                            If you read the book “7 habits of highly effective people”, one of the habit is always thinking about win-win solution. You can’t just expect somebody to work for you for free. It sounds unrealistic.

                                                            share|improve this answer

                                                            • “You can just expect somebody to work for you for free.” I think you meant to write “can’t” or “cannot”.
                                                              – Faheem Mitha
                                                              Dec 12 at 13:45

                                                            • @FaheemMitha Yes, that’s a typo. Thanks.
                                                              – qsp
                                                              Dec 12 at 17:42

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                                                            up vote
                                                            18
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                                                            accepted

                                                            Rather than proposing this to an individual, which should be interpreted as coercive since there is a power imbalance, you could publish a call for help, describing what you need and what you offer. Be clear that it is only an ack on offer, not authorship, and no money is involved. Ask for people to apply. You can choose among those who offer to help. Some probably will, but if not, you should consider something more substantial.

                                                            If there is a learning component, you could describe that in your “call” as well. It might make it more interesting, even though there is no academic credit involved.


                                                            Let me respond, indirectly, to some of the comments here by people who seem to think I’m suggesting an unethical course of action. Actually, all I tried to do was assure that coercion wasn’t part of the OP’s actions by suggesting an open call for assistance with little reward.

                                                            If I ask someone to mow my lawn and there is a power imbalance between us it is coercive and thus unethical. If I put out a general call for someone who would be willing to mow my lawn for no return but my thanks, it is no longer unethical. I hope that is recognized.

                                                            In fact, professors are on the “losing” end of exactly this sort of arrangement. Society has asked us to dedicate our lives, and often fund our own education, to educate the next generation. The tangible rewards are actually few. I earned, over a 45 year career about half of what I’d have earned working in industry (I actually have anecdotal evidence). Society asked me to do this, offering thanks and (often) respect, but not actually a “fair” compensation. Society depends, in fact, on lots of people being willing to take this deal, finding that the rewards are other than monetary or power or …

                                                            Most of you reading this, and most of you disagreeing with me, have taken this deal or are in the process of preparing yourselves to accept it. While I’d like a “better” deal, I’ve never been unhappy with the deal as long as I had the respect of my peers and as long as I felt I was contributing.

                                                            Not every relationship needs to be strictly transactional. If I ask for assistance, offering only thanks but little else, I don’t expect any particular person to accept, but I depend on the fact that those that do will find, somehow, their own rewards in helping.

                                                            Another analogy is precisely what happens on this site. People ask for help. There is very little offered in return for that help and yet other people – you and me – are willing to help and get our reward however we can. Sometimes the respect of our peers is enough.

                                                            I recognize that the current question may be a bit different, but I don’t see that I’m suggesting finding a “sucker” if a student accepts such a request and finds in his or her own way a reason, educational or otherwise, for doing so. Those who are grant funded should, of course, build in funds for such things, but not everyone is. Many faculty at undergraduate institutions are required to do research but not compensated for it. You are paid for teaching and for being supportive of undergraduates and helping them grow and advance.

                                                            I also recognize that some here believe that any help on a paper should result in co-authorship. I think that is misplaced. I agree that those who contribute to the intellectual content of a paper should be recognized, probably as authors, but if someone works at my direction, then it is a different situation. Should someone translating my poor language skills into a polished paper be a co-author? Should my first Calculus instructor be a co-author in every Analysis paper I write?

                                                            Note that I didn’t, and don’t, know all of the details here and so can’t actually comment whether as student writing code to validate a theory has contributed to the intellectual content (My field is CS, actually). It may be or not, depending on the level of direction, which I don’t have evidence for. Creativity should be recognized, certainly. Don’t guess that I think otherwise. There are situations in which authorship would be appropriate and others for which an acknowledgment is sufficient.

                                                            share|improve this answer

                                                            • 36

                                                              But if an undergrad believes this would be a valuable experience in itself and decides to apply, does it make it ethical to not give them authorship status nonetheless? Just because the terms are clear beforehand does not mean the deal is fair.
                                                              – Alexis
                                                              Dec 9 at 12:56

                                                            • 37

                                                              It’s still unethical if you find a sucker willing to submit.
                                                              – einpoklum
                                                              Dec 9 at 20:12

                                                            • 16

                                                              I agree with @einpoklum. Just because you make it clear up front that you are going to have someone do work and you won’t make them co-author does not solve the ethical problem that arised in the first place. OP accepted this answer probably because it is more comfortable, but a good answer should definitely address this (see iayork’s answer).
                                                              – Ian
                                                              Dec 10 at 10:10

                                                            • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Additionally, some flags have been raised on some overly aggressive comments. Please keep it civil, folks.
                                                              – eykanal
                                                              Dec 11 at 23:32

                                                            up vote
                                                            18
                                                            down vote

                                                            accepted

                                                            Rather than proposing this to an individual, which should be interpreted as coercive since there is a power imbalance, you could publish a call for help, describing what you need and what you offer. Be clear that it is only an ack on offer, not authorship, and no money is involved. Ask for people to apply. You can choose among those who offer to help. Some probably will, but if not, you should consider something more substantial.

                                                            If there is a learning component, you could describe that in your “call” as well. It might make it more interesting, even though there is no academic credit involved.


                                                            Let me respond, indirectly, to some of the comments here by people who seem to think I’m suggesting an unethical course of action. Actually, all I tried to do was assure that coercion wasn’t part of the OP’s actions by suggesting an open call for assistance with little reward.

                                                            If I ask someone to mow my lawn and there is a power imbalance between us it is coercive and thus unethical. If I put out a general call for someone who would be willing to mow my lawn for no return but my thanks, it is no longer unethical. I hope that is recognized.

                                                            In fact, professors are on the “losing” end of exactly this sort of arrangement. Society has asked us to dedicate our lives, and often fund our own education, to educate the next generation. The tangible rewards are actually few. I earned, over a 45 year career about half of what I’d have earned working in industry (I actually have anecdotal evidence). Society asked me to do this, offering thanks and (often) respect, but not actually a “fair” compensation. Society depends, in fact, on lots of people being willing to take this deal, finding that the rewards are other than monetary or power or …

                                                            Most of you reading this, and most of you disagreeing with me, have taken this deal or are in the process of preparing yourselves to accept it. While I’d like a “better” deal, I’ve never been unhappy with the deal as long as I had the respect of my peers and as long as I felt I was contributing.

                                                            Not every relationship needs to be strictly transactional. If I ask for assistance, offering only thanks but little else, I don’t expect any particular person to accept, but I depend on the fact that those that do will find, somehow, their own rewards in helping.

                                                            Another analogy is precisely what happens on this site. People ask for help. There is very little offered in return for that help and yet other people – you and me – are willing to help and get our reward however we can. Sometimes the respect of our peers is enough.

                                                            I recognize that the current question may be a bit different, but I don’t see that I’m suggesting finding a “sucker” if a student accepts such a request and finds in his or her own way a reason, educational or otherwise, for doing so. Those who are grant funded should, of course, build in funds for such things, but not everyone is. Many faculty at undergraduate institutions are required to do research but not compensated for it. You are paid for teaching and for being supportive of undergraduates and helping them grow and advance.

                                                            I also recognize that some here believe that any help on a paper should result in co-authorship. I think that is misplaced. I agree that those who contribute to the intellectual content of a paper should be recognized, probably as authors, but if someone works at my direction, then it is a different situation. Should someone translating my poor language skills into a polished paper be a co-author? Should my first Calculus instructor be a co-author in every Analysis paper I write?

                                                            Note that I didn’t, and don’t, know all of the details here and so can’t actually comment whether as student writing code to validate a theory has contributed to the intellectual content (My field is CS, actually). It may be or not, depending on the level of direction, which I don’t have evidence for. Creativity should be recognized, certainly. Don’t guess that I think otherwise. There are situations in which authorship would be appropriate and others for which an acknowledgment is sufficient.

                                                            share|improve this answer

                                                            • 36

                                                              But if an undergrad believes this would be a valuable experience in itself and decides to apply, does it make it ethical to not give them authorship status nonetheless? Just because the terms are clear beforehand does not mean the deal is fair.
                                                              – Alexis
                                                              Dec 9 at 12:56

                                                            • 37

                                                              It’s still unethical if you find a sucker willing to submit.
                                                              – einpoklum
                                                              Dec 9 at 20:12