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I have recently received my first manuscript back for major revisions and found one of the reviewers comments strange. Within the comments the reviewer refers to the paper as "Author D et al's paper". As first Author (Author A), I am a bit confronted by this and concerned that there is a general perception that the corresponding and most senior author has done most of the work, as he is more recognised within the field. This is aside from the fact that out of the 4 authors on the paper, I am the only one to have written and researched the literature review, with edits from Author D. My question therefore is: Is this common? Is there any reason for concern of being undermined?

I'd appreciate some insight why reviewers would do this.

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    What is your field? This differs vastly from one field to another. Dec 15, 2020 at 4:13
  • @Coconut bioengineering
    – SarahS
    Dec 15, 2020 at 4:17
  • The reviewer likely knows the traditional authorship rules and is just being slightly elitist. Dec 15, 2020 at 5:51
  • The reviewer seems to be a bit of a dick. Dec 15, 2020 at 11:20

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It is not uncommon. Reviewers must be aware of your professor's previous work and therefore, they refer to this work as Professor D et al. though you are the first author (A). However, if the reviewer is publishing his/her own paper, he/she will refer to this paper as A et al.

I have received comments like this the following "In this work, D et al. have confirmed the hypothesis they had proposed in the previous work of D et al. (J. Basket weaving, 2016)."

In any case, there is nothing to worry about. Reviewer's comments are meant to improve your paper and don't reflect on the work done by A versus work done by D.

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    Agree. Don't worry about it. It is even possible that the reviewer is in a different subfield where the principal author is listed last.
    – Buffy
    Dec 15, 2020 at 15:47

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