I recently identified a major methodological issue in a co-author's draft paper. I then worked for 30+ hours including on several weekends to develop, implement, debug, and document a solution due to the urgency to submit and my expertise in the area - this atop my feedback on earlier methods/results and comments on the draft.

Now, I was initially listed in the latter half of 10+ authors (but not a "senior" position), and in the updated draft my position hasn't changed. Several co-authors listed before me led data collection for one dataset we used (but the dataset has been used in numerous existing papers), and have provided modest comments on the draft.

Was I wrong to expect a bump in position for my efforts? I barely got a mention in the email to co-authors.

This reminds me of a suggestion I heard: to avoid giving a co-author order on early circulated drafts.

1 Answer 1


You were not wrong to expect a change in author order but you should also not assume that it will just happen. I don't see any reason that you can't suggest a change based on your new contributions. Assuming the paper isn't submitted, there is no reason to avoid this conversation. Even if it has been submitted, you can usually request author changes prior to publication.

Also, this doesn't directly answer your question but might help in the future. If you are deep in the author list and don't expect to be moved up to an important position, you shouldn't do extra work and then stew if it is not recognized in the way that you want. Before you do significantly more work than planned, tell the group your expectations for changing authorship. Alternatively, why not point out the flaw, suggest a solution, and let the primary author(s) deal with it? This may be a bit of a cynical take, but I think there is an argument for working at the level of your role on the team.

I'll also counter the advice you heard - I think that establishing author order and expectations early is ideal. The catch is that everyone involved should be aware that author order is an ongoing conversation. Just because someone early on makes contribution X that warrants author position Y doesn't mean that they are fixed in that spot.

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    Thanks. I do appreciate the counterargument for drafting an author order early to set expectations. Re. not doing the work, that didn't really seem like an option due to the nature of the methods issue, timeline, and my unique expertise to help find a solution. Commented May 20 at 11:05

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