I am a student hoping to kick start my research career (biochemistry). I hope to start a PhD in the coming months and in the meantime have drafted a review which I hope to submit in the next few weeks.

I was wondering if it is important how many second/third/etc authors there are on the paper? At the moment I would have had 3 other people contribute/proof-read my review (including our PI), and potentially a 4th. When it comes to job hunting later on, or becoming a reputable researcher, would they check to see how many other authors worked on this review, or would it only matter that I am first author and the quality of the paper itself? In other words, is the lower the number of authors on a review the better, or does it not matter?

  • 7
    It might matter in some fields, and I'm not familiar with yours. However, proofreading isn't enough to earn authorship. Make sure people contribute intellectual content if you want to make them authors.
    – Buffy
    Nov 4, 2020 at 15:55
  • 1
    It's unlikely a review paper at your career stage counts for much at all besides your own learning. Grad schools want students who will excel in research, and writing a review doesn't say much about that.
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 6, 2020 at 0:20

1 Answer 1


Whether a review has one, two or more authors does not really matter in biochemistry, but being first author is useful, and so is a good quality paper that gets cited. It will be very helpful for your career to build a network and show your skills, and a good way to do so is to collaborate on a review.

Buffy's comment is also correct: authors should contribute intellectually to a paper to earn authorship.

I don't mean to discourage you, but unless you are an exceptionally talented student and scientific writer, you probably need help from someone who has experience writing and publishing reviews to get your work accepted.

Most people would agree that there is a difference between a review written by 1-5 authors and one by 20 authors (if those exist - I do not remember reading one). And of course there are always the rare exceptions of readers who value single author papers more (you did everything yourself), or who may prefer multiple-author papers (you can collaborate).

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