I have two questions, a general question and a particular case question, regarding the authors of a manuscript.

  1. In general, I would like to inquire about who should be added as authors to a manuscript as well as about the order of the authors.

  2. I prepared a research paper and I was wondering whether I should add the name of this person or not. In particular, this person presented me with an access to his computer facilities (high-performance computers) and he has been supporting me with his engineering technical support. However, he is neither a researcher nor a person holding a PhD degree. In fact, he is an engineer and he is doing this for free. Can I put his name as a co-author to our manuscript?

4 Answers 4


Authorship conventions vary enormously from field to field, so it is impossible to answer this question in any generality. This is the sort of question you need an advisor for.

However, two general pieces of advice are to (i) make sure to discuss authorship at the earliest opportunity so as to avoid conflict later on and (ii) be generous, particularly with junior people (e.g., non-PhDs). People tend to worry about dividing the credit for the work, but, in reality, adding another author does not deprive you of much credit; a much greater risk is offending someone and harming future collaboration opportunities.

  • It may be true that adding another person as author doesn't deprive the credit of other authors, but in those authors' eyes, including them without discussion may make them feel unfair. Human psychology is very sensitive with injustice.
    – Ooker
    Jan 9, 2019 at 4:19

Technically, you can list anyone as co-authors, including your cat. If you want general guidelines, you can find several online. In practice I think it is reasonable to discuss this issue in advance with your collaborators — who will be authors and what will be the order of appearance, and who will just be acknowledged. So in your case it really had to be negotiated beforehand, not afterwards. I'd say that technical help is not authorship by default, but if such specialist wants/needs to be an author for some reason, I'd have no problems to include him in the list.


All the other answers are great, but regarding HPC in particular: it's not common to include someone who provided tech support as a co-author (regardless of their credentials), unless this person actually wrote substantial parts of the code specific to your project or contributed core ideas to your project's theory or design. It would be appropriate to mention him (and the supercomputing center) in your Acknowledgements, and you should absolutely cite whatever foundational code your project relies on. But you should also ask him directly how he would prefer to be credited-- some people are shy and don't even want their names in the Acknowledgements.


As others have said already, you should discuss authorship as early as possible and make sure that everyone agrees and is satisfied with the position within the list they are getting.

However, if it is too late now to do so, here is my recommendation:

  • If the list of authors is not too long (i.e. spare space) you might add them if you really believe they played a crucial role in the making of the research/manuscript.
  • If the list is too long, you can always add them at the end in the acknowledgments section. This is a common practice, particularly in the case of people that gave occasional support.

Additionally, as always in life, you should try to be consistent - include authors whose contribution is of enough value, and not just because of free space or to be a good guy!

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