I'm involved in a research with a first authorship dispute between the one who lead the research and the one who did the most important part of the analysis.
I give you the facts from a neutral perspective: A had a research idea and gathered a group of people to work on it. In the first meeting he asked to B if they could do some analysis in which the paper would be based on and B agreed. Also asked C to do some other analysis. D, E and F where in charge of minor analysis and to add their expertise on interpret the results.
Once B's results were successful, A started to write the paper with the help of the other coauthors, doing most of the writing work. However, he did not do any of the analysis on which the paper is based. His role was leading the paper and writing.
Once the writing is over, A included the names of the coauthors in order A, B, C, D, E & F. But B complained that he did the most important analysis on which the paper is based, and suggested that the order should be B, A, C, D, E & F. A suggested to B to do it in the former order with the specification that A and B contributed equally, but B replied to do the same but with the latter order. Finally, both want the research to be cited as either A et al. or B et al., since it gives them more prestige.
Now it seems that B wants to withdraw their contribution and analysis to the paper. A wants to continue anyways with the paper without B's contribution since they think that it can be redone with C's analysis. However, the paper will lose a great part of its content. C's analysis support B's findings, but the proper ones are the one that B did. I'm trying to calm them down and to mediate between them, but I would like to know what would be more ethic. For me, it's a new situation, since in my field, usually the one who leads the paper does the most important analysis and writes the first draft.
- Both A and B are starting in this topic, so it seems that both want their surnames to be associated with this.
- B argues that at the beginning they didn't know that they would carry the weight of the analysis part. They thought that their part would be equilibrated with other coauthors. That's why they didn't raise their voice before to ask to be the first author, although they recognize that they should have done it before. They are also very shy and maybe that played against them.
- Indeed, A wanted to be the first author from the beginning. So, in that case they should have told B not to participate in this paper.
- B specially complains that A didn't do any analysis and only wants to get credit for others' work
Question: What would be the most ethical solution to this problem?