Ranking the first or second author in a two-author paper is straightforward, but the meaning of position becomes increasingly arbitrary as the number of authors increases beyond two. The situation in our area of research—the ecological and environmental sciences—has changed in recent years.
Following informal practices in the biomedical sciences, the last author often gets as much credit as the first author, because he or she is assumed to be the driving force, both intellectually and financially, behind the research. Evaluation committees and funding bodies often take last authorship as a sign of successful group leadership and make this a criterion in hiring, granting, and promotion. Moreover, there is no accepted yardstick in assessing the actual contribution of a group leader to given scientific publications [ 8 , 9 ], so interpretation of author sequence can be like a lottery.
Hence, one really does not know if being last author means that the overall contribution was the most or least important. Although reducing evaluation of authors' complex contributions to simple metrics is regrettable, in reality it is already in practice in most evaluation committees. Hence, in our opinion, we need a simple and straightforward approach to estimate the credit associated with the sequence of authors' names that is free from any arbitrary rank valuation.
In multiauthored papers, the first author position should clearly be assigned to the individual making the greatest contribution [ 4—6 ], as is common practice. However, authors often adopt different methods of crediting contributions for the following authors, because of very different traditions across countries and research fields, resulting in very different criteria that committees adopt to quantify author's contributions [ 8 , 9 ].
For example, some authors use alphabetical sequence, while others think that the last author position has great importance or that the second author position is the second most important. Still others detail each author's contribution in a footnote. We suggest that the approach taken should be stated in the acknowledgements section, and evaluation committees are asked to weigh the contribution of each author based on the criteria given by the authors. This would make reviewers aware that there are different cultures to authorship order.
The usual and informal practice of giving the whole credit impact factor to each author of a multiauthored paper is not adequate and overemphasises the minor contributions of many authors Table 1. Similarly, evaluation of authors according to citation frequencies means often overrating resulting from high-impact but multiauthored publications.
The following approaches may be identified. The sequence of authors should reflect the declining importance of their contribution, as suggested by previous authors [ 4—6 ]. Authorship order only reflects relative contribution, whereas evaluation committees often need quantitative measures.
We suggest that the first author should get credit for the whole impact impact factor , the second author half, the third a third, and so forth, up to rank ten. Authors use alphabetical sequence to acknowledge similar contributions or to avoid disharmony in collaborating groups. In many labs, the great importance of last authorship is well established.
We suggest that the first author should get credit of the whole impact, the last author half, and the credit of the other authors is the impact divided by the number of all authors [as in 2 ]. There is a trend to detail each author's contribution following requests of several journals [ 7 ]. This should also be used to establish the quantified credit. Our suggestion of explicit indication of the method applied, including the simple method of weighing authors' rank in publications in a quantitative way, will avoid misinterpretations and arbitrary a posteriori designations of author contributions.
Multidisciplinary scientific collaboration indeed must be encouraged, but we need to avoid misinterpretations so that current and future scientific communities can evaluate author contributions.
We applied the SDC approach for the sequence of authors. Teja Tscharntke is Professor and Tatyana A. Michael E. Vincent H. Consequently, the authors listed on papers should fairly and accurately represent the person or persons responsible for the work in question. Authorship is generally limited to individuals who make significant contributions to the work that is reported.
This includes anyone who:.
There is disagreement, however, over whether authorship should be limited to individuals who contribute to all phases of a publication or whether individuals who made more limited contributions deserve authorship credit. It recommends limiting authorship to persons who contribute to the conception and design of the work or to data collection and interpretation and, in addition, play an important role in drafting and approving the final publication. Anyone who plays a lesser role can be listed under acknowledgments but not at the beginning of the paper as an author.
Practices for determining authors vary considerably by discipline and even from laboratory to laboratory. This places most of the responsibility for decisions about authorship on the researchers who participated in the work reported in each publication. These decisions are best made early in any project, to avoid misunderstandings and later disputes about authorship.
Authors are usually listed in their order of importance, with the designation first or last author carrying special weight, although practices again vary by discipline. Academic institutions usually will not promote researchers to the rank of tenured faculty until they have been listed as first or last author on one or more papers. As with the principle of contribution, however, there are no clear rules for determining who should be listed as first author or the order in which other authors should be listed.
In many disciplines, the author order indicates the magnitude of contribution, with the first author adding the most value and the last author representing the most senior, predominantly supervisory role. Editors are strongly encouraged to develop and implement a contributorship policy. Authorship order is a common problem and the issue of who should be listed in what order differs by discipline. Elise Smith , Zubin Master. The correspondence has not produced any agreement so date and the authors have individually raised the prospect of litigation. Kosslyn employs a points system, which is explicated on his lab website. Close Figure Viewer.
The order of authorship on the byline should be a jointdecision of the coauthors. Authors should be preparedto explain the order in which authors are listed.
It's rare that an article is authored by only one or two people anymore. In fact, the average original research paper has five authors. The growing. The Committee on Publication Ethics recommends that researchers discuss authorship order from project initiation to manuscript submission, revising as.