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Who's on First? Listing Authors by Relative Contribution Trumps the Alphabet

  • David A. Lake (a1)

Political science as a discipline lacks any convention on the order in which authors should be listed in co-authored publications. As a result, the order of authors' surnames currently provides no information to other scholars, hiring and promotion committees, and other reviewers about the relative contributions of each collaborator. This lack of information impedes the allocation of proper credit for scholarly contributions. Moreover, in collaborations between junior and senior colleagues, or other asymmetric status hierarchies, the absence of both information and any convention tends to favor more established scholars; this makes it more difficult for graduate students, untenured professors, and other vulnerable co-authors to negotiate for and receive appropriate credit. Listing authors by relative contribution is both more informative and fair. In publications where one author provides the necessary research funding, or a faculty member is not only a co-author but also a dissertation or other academic advisor, it is also appropriate to designate that collaborator as “last” or “senior author.” In all cases, articles should carry a short statement indicating the division of labor between the co-authors, even or especially if the contributions are equal.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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