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Authorship order in a theoretical paper

  1. Feb 27, 2013 #1
    In a theoretical paper, the primary investigator which is my advisor, is first author, and he also writes the first draft. Me, the second author, and another graduate student have contributed substantially to the numerical simulation. We have another external collaborator which has not contributed that much, and my advisor selected him/her to be the last author. Do you think that this is a fair order, regarding the position of the second and last authors? In other words, where should the one who had the second major contribution be positioned in the author list?
     
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  3. Feb 27, 2013 #2

    ZapperZ

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    At this stage, your advisor gets to decide who goes where on any paper. Unless he/she asks for your opinion, I would suggest you follow along.

    When you become the principle investigator, then you get to decide.

    Zz.
     
  4. Feb 27, 2013 #3

    Mute

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    I find it a bit odd that your advisor didn't choose to be the last author. Usually the PI takes the last slot, as it indicates they were the one who oversaw the research project. It's not a hard rule, though, more like a rule of thumb, so if your PI wants to be first, he can choose to be first. Alternatively, you're sure the author listing isn't alphabetical and you just didn't notice?

    As ZapperZ stated, your advisor is the one who guided the work, so ultimately he gets to choose the order of the author list. If you really, really, really felt like it was unfair, you could raise your concerns to your advisor, but I've never seen that result in a differently ordered author list in practice.
     
  5. Feb 27, 2013 #4

    ZapperZ

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    The PI gets to be towards the end of the authors list only when he/she acts in the supervisory/advisory capacity. Otherwise, if he/she puts in as much effort as anyone else, then he/she should be placed higher on the list, even first, if it is warranted. I've seen PIs listed as first author on many papers, and more often than not, in theoretical papers.

    Zz.
     
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