I am currently involved in a research project that has an unusually large team of about 40 co-authors. Given the extensive number of contributors, we are facing a significant challenge in determining the order of names for our publication.

The main issue lies in accurately measuring and representing everyone's contributions to the research. With so many individuals involved, it becomes difficult to quantify each person's input in a fair and equitable manner.

I am seeking advice on the best practices for ordering co-authors in such a scenario in computer science, AI-ML field. Are there established norms or guidelines that can help us decide the order of names?

  • Does this answer your question? How does authorship work in large collaborations?
    – Sursula
    Jan 18 at 11:43
  • Actually no. I just added the field of my research. @Sursula Jan 18 at 11:45
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    Did every one of the people contribute enough to merit authorship and not merely an acknowledgement?
    – Sursula
    Jan 18 at 11:48
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    Your other questions suggest you are fairly junior. Is there not someone leading the project who can manage this? Jan 18 at 17:10
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    IMHO not a duplicate. The linked question about CERN-scale collaborations is about things with thousands of authors, wheras this has 40 and is asking about a specific field. Voting to leave open, though it may not have great odds of a good answer.
    – Flyto
    Jan 18 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Since you're asking this question, I will assume that your field doesn't use alphabetical order. Based on your previous questions, I think these two answers lay out the relevant custom for your field.

My experience in physics is that a good approach to ordering a substantial number of authors is to start at the edges and work inwards. That is, who should be first (or co-first) author, who should be last? Then iterate inwards. In case your field doesn't necessarily put PIs and other senior authors at the end, you can adapt this to start from a single edge. Either way, eventually you get to a point where it's hard to tell who should go next, but, equally, the difference between being the 23rd or 24th author on a 40-author paper is negligible in terms of career impacts. So the further you get from the edge(s), the less the sorting matters, and the less you'll need (or want) to worry about getting the order of contributions absolutely right. Maybe use your judgement, or alphabetize authors after a certain point. In any case, it often helps if someone just proposes an author order and then asks if the others are OK with it, or if they want to make any modifications. You all need to agree to the order before submission, but generally speaking, if the order near the edge(s) is proper, few will worry about their precise position in the list.

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