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There are few collaborating authors on the following list:

Tom Cruise*, Will Smith*, Jackie Chan, Robert John Downey Jr., etc.

*: These authors contributed equally.

Tom Cruise is corresponding author 

Will Smith worked for Tom Cruise.

The paper was written by Will Smith and so was data analysis; however, all study design and original data was received from Tom Cruise.

How can Will Smith proclaim this research contribution officially?

And... will the paper be helpful for Will Smith in applying to graduate school in the future?

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This is going to very a lot from field to field. Some fields try to have extremely sophisticated order of authorship rules while others do not. For example, in pure math there's pretty much no emphasis on author contribution order. In contrast, astronomy and biology often have first, second and third author at least, and sometimes later authors listed alphabetically (until one gets to the very last author who may be someone who runs the lab but didn't do much directly).

In your hypothetical, all of them will list it on their CVs. They can signal to people that they did more in part by giving talks about the research or mentioning explicitly what they did in research statements or the like. But that will often be a more natural thing to talk about in interview contexts.

And regardless of field, regardless of how much Smith contributed, it will definitely help Smith in terms of graduate school. How much so will depend on the field. For example, I have a friend who is in astronomy. As an undergrad he was on a paper with about 40 authors. They listed five people in order and then listed the remaining alphabetically. My friend was listed third. I strongly suspect that when he applied to graduate school, they noticed exactly where he was on that list. But even if he had been listed in the long alphabetical section, it would still have helped.

  • Thanks for your reply~~This paper was belonged to psychometric and genetic field. Will Smith feels anxious for applying graduate school in the future, because he had low GPA in his college. – Balabababa Sep 8 at 15:25
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    To elaborate on the order of authorship rules a little more explicitly, this sort of setup allows both Cruise and Smith to be "first authors" (or "lead authors"), which can be a significant benefit in fields where the order matters. This may be obvious to the answerer, but might not be appreciated by non-experts. – David Schaich Sep 8 at 21:55
  • Thank you so much to your reply. I just check what is co-first author, and was surprised that it came to great honor for Will Smith. – Balabababa Sep 8 at 22:21

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