While the issue of being the first or the corresponding author is China has been discussed in this forum, the significance of the senior author, or final author has not been addressed. We are working on an abstract, and determining the author order. As I am in the USA where senior authorship is an honor, determining if this would be win-win, Chinese senior author as corresponding author, and the US author as senior/last author. Anyone out there know about this topic?

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    What field is this? Apr 29, 2019 at 17:24
  • I guess the value is the same as everywhere else in the world as science is an international field
    – lordy
    Apr 29, 2019 at 17:55
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    @lordy Nope. Academia varies more than you think it does. Final authorship carries zero additional prestige in my field, at least in North America and Europe; it means only that your name is last in alphabetical order.
    – JeffE
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:24
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    @AndreasBlass My objection stands. Different countries have different academic cultures, even within the same field. (It's not clear whether they differ on this particular point, but I think it's careless to "guess" that they do not.)
    – JeffE
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:54
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    @lordy The value of corresponding author certainly varies geographically (for the case of China, see this question), as does the value of being the literal first author (even when co-first), so I wouldn't rule out variations in the value of last author that readily.
    – Anyon
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


I have worked in China as a postdoc for two years, recently. I have come to know a lot about Chinese academic culture. Thus, I will try to answer your question.

As someone mentioned in comments, we don't know anything about your field. In my field, a [conference] abstract is usually not important per se, but provides a thermometer about potential authorship conflicts when it comes to the actual paper publication. So, bear this in mind while you see my points below.

Chinese culture is very conscious about hierarchy status. They take that seriously, so mind to make sure they understand you're striving to honor the Chinese senior author in your decision. In principle, granting corresponding authorship status is desirable for a Chinese PI. I should remark that multiple corresponding authors are common among papers coming from China. This enables the "humble first author" to honor all senior PIs included in the authors list. (Honorary authorship is exceedingly common in China.)

Coming out as the last author is also seen with good eyes, but not as important as being corresponding author. This way, I think your plan is good.

Finally, a word on publication awards in China. As you may have heard, researchers in China are paid cash awards over published papers. Cash is also an honor in China. Different institutions have slightly different rules about awarding cash prizes. Perhaps you'd like to ask them whether "the authorship status & position are fine with their university rules" or something to that effect, referring to such $$ award rules without asking directly.

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