I am a PhD graduate and I supervised a Master's student in a research work that lead to a publication. The Master student is the first author, then it is me, and then is the name of our advisor. Since I had an equal contribution to the paper, does stating me as an equal contributor affect my supervisory role of the work?

Because I am planning for a post-doc position and I think it may be important to have a paper in which I supervised another student.

p.s. I am publishing in the field of computer science (ML, Computer Vision)

2 Answers 2


Making two authors to equally contributing ones does not imply anything explicit about their roles for the research, just like the author order which does not follow any real rules. There are some field-dependent conventions, but also those are subject to interpretation.

A way out would be to include an author contribution statement to your paper where you explicitly state the roles of all authors. You could for example use the CRediT system (and I encourage you to do so) which also includes the contribution "supervision".


Honestly, I have an itchy feeling about this, especially in a field like CS. There are those that will assume that a PI/advisor/supervisor did all the work when they appear in the list of "authors", rather than in an acknowledgement of other contributors. In math, and it was my practice in CS as well, to not consider any sort of authorship on my student's research output. And yes, they got some help from me, just as I did from my own doctoral advisor.

Having you as joint "first" author clouds the picture even further. If you want to emphasize that you were the advisor then let the student be sole first author (I won't suggest sole author, though it would be my practice).

Write an acknowledgements section in the paper that lists yourself as a contributor.

The difference for one publication between first and second authorship is so small as to not be worth polluting the space. And if the student objects to not being sole first author, then all the more reason to let it go. If you want to be a great advisor then boost your students.

There is something special about a student's first publication. Twenty years from now your generosity will be remembered. Forty years. Etc.

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    Just that I get it right: Do you suggest to have have people in the contributions statement that are not authors? The CRediT formalizes the contribution statement and I cannot remember having seen non-authors included. I must admit, however, that it is an interesting idea. Anyway, in my field contributor=author holds true in 99 % of the cases. Mar 24, 2022 at 15:23
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    My thesis thanks my advisor for his help, but he was not an author. My own doctoral students thank me for my help but are all sole authors. Not every contribution rises to the level of authorship. It can be subtle, of course, but for people who aren't actually 'peers' such as student and advisor, there is no harm in stepping aside in favor of the student's sole authorship. there are too many questions on this site in which advisors abuse the relationship.
    – Buffy
    Mar 24, 2022 at 15:28
  • @Snijderfrey, note the above comment. Note also that in (pure) math and in much of CS, author order is alphabetical with less worrying about the specific "weight" of contributions. It aids collaboration, actually, even if your name is Zzysmansky.
    – Buffy
    Mar 24, 2022 at 15:40
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    Apart from different concepts of authorship, I think we also have different concepts about what a contribution is. But there is no need to resolve this right here, I think. Honestly, I think whether the first two authors are equally contributing or not is virtually irrelevant anyway because it is regularly overlooked. I understand why early career researchers worry about this, though. Mar 24, 2022 at 15:52
  • @Snijderfrey, yes, fields like chemistry (yours?) seem to think differently than much of math and cs. Part of it is that in some of the sciences the PI provides the basic infrastructure that permits research to happen. In pure math and theoretical CS that isn't so much the case.
    – Buffy
    Mar 24, 2022 at 15:57

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