We are six co-authors in an applied CS paper (AI). This paper has a "strong" first author who worked on this project for years. Two student authors (let's call them Alice and Bob) contributed to the paper, and the other co-authors are seniors.
Since Alice and Bob have roughly the same contribution, we use a lexicographic tiebreaker, and placed Alice before Bob. While Alice is (unsurprisingly) happy with this solution, it bothers Bob.
I thought of several solutions:
- We stay with the lexicographic tiebreaker between Alice and Bob.
- Flip a coin to determine the order.
- Put an asterisk suggesting equal contribution to the second and third authors.
- Other creative solutions?
My question is about option 3. I've yet to encounter an "equal contribution" remark that is not about the first author. Since there is a sole first author, is it reasonable to remark that the second and third have equal contribution? Any other thoughts?