If the first author changes the authorship arrangement of a journal paper without discussing or informing the other co-author who is being unfairly affected with this, what we can do about it?

Is there a way to stop this sort of stealing other one's work? What would you recommend to do?

  • 3
    Speak with the first author. – David Ketcheson Dec 17 '13 at 9:28
  • @DavidKetcheson We did, indeed. His response was "it is OK"! Of course OK for him. – Developer Dec 17 '13 at 9:33
  • 3
    @Developer It would be good if you included the information you spoke with the first author in your question by editing it in. Mention shortly what how asked him about it, what concerns did you raise, as well as what answer you got and which explanation. It will be easier to get more relevant answers that way, if we have more facts. – penelope Dec 17 '13 at 10:27

To play with the author order is not fair and perhaps unethical if it unfairly changes the picture of the intellectual contribution to the paper. Unfortunately, the ordering is largely an internal problem within the group since only that group can assess the appropriate ordering. So, discussing the problem within the author group would be the first choice of action. When doing so you need to have a good argument for why the division of authorship should look the way you see it and have good arguments for that. The core problem therefore seems to be a lack of communication.

It is a good idea (necessary) to discuss a system for ordering of authorship. There are guidelines for authorship and contributorship based on the Vancouver Protocol. You can also look at the post Paper contributions and first authorship. Requirements for authorship are quite strict and each author group needs to work out how authorship should be divided along a clear set of rules. An example of how such a discussion is given on, for example, the site AuthorOrder.

There are cases when authorship changes can be unethical, but those mostly concern the first authorship so I do not sense this is the main problem in your case. Nevertheless, for some input on disputes, I recommend looking at COPE's How to handle authorship disputes:a guide for new researchers.

If you do not think you can discuss the changes with the first order, then you have to learn from the experience and insist on discussing the grounds for authorship and ordering in future collaborations.

| improve this answer | |
  • Full of nice advices. We think for our case your last sentence is the only that we can do, unfortunately. – Developer Dec 17 '13 at 9:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.