What is a reasonable number of authors a small conference paper should have?

In my case, this is an interdisciplinary research paper and several people are linked to this work in one way or another. Currently, there are 8 authors and I feel this may seem too high.

Is there any common-sense consensus regarding this limit?

In case there is a field-specific dependence, the main field is Computer Science.

UPDATE: my justification for this question is the increasing buzz around the very issue: author inflation.

  • 1
    This may depend heavily on your field. Could you edit your question to add this info? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 8:42
  • Added the field: Computer Science (although the paper is not 100% classifiable as a CS one).
    – teodron
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 8:53
  • 5
    I don't understand the question. The paper has as many authors as it has, no less and no more. (I am a coauthor on a few 10-author CS conference papers.)
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 10:17
  • @JeffE I'll edit the question soon :(.. the answer xLeitix gave is pretty much hitting the nail on the head: there are many coauthors and some people don't see this with very good eyes - there's an "academic authorship inflation", as termed, that has some negative connotations in popular culture.
    – teodron
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 11:45
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    A paper with 8 coauthors = there are at least 8 people who have proofread it before it is submitted. The referees will love it! Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


In my field (software engineering), having papers with 6+ authors is uncommon but not unheard-of. Most often I see papers coming out of larger international research projects having many authors, presumably simply because in a large project more hands tend to touch any given piece of research outcome. Further, in larger studies, you sometimes need more manpower to actually carry out the study. If you have a chance to do an interview study with a large group of people, just having one or two interviewers might simply be infeasible because it would take too long.

If you are worried that your large author list will be considered a negative during the review process, this may happen if it is not clear how the large author list is warranted. That is, if you were to publish work coming more less directly out of the PhD thesis of the first author with 7 co-authors, one may ask what the remaining 7 people actually added. In such cases, it is not uncommon to drop subtle hints into the paper about the role of each author. For instance, when you describe your research methodology, you could mention that the first three authors conducted the study, while the remaining three authors were mostly involved with analysis, and the last two authors provided domain feedback and validation of the achieved results (if interdisciplinary).

  • 1
    There are some interesting statistics in this paper (possibly a bit out of date)
    – ff524
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 9:04
  • Thanks, then if it's ok to actually point what who did what (briefly) and if this helps the credibility, then it sounds like a must.
    – teodron
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 9:06
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    @xLeitix some journals require a specific list of what each one did. Example
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 9:12
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    @xLeitix do you perhaps know of any sample paragraph/formulation for this specific case? As far as I remember, I haven't read any paper that did it and I'm confused on how to actually make it sound formal and professional.
    – teodron
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 9:16
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    @teodron No specific example, but I have certainly written something like: "Interviews have been conducted and transcribed by the first author. Afterwards, the first and the second author have (independently) coded the transcripts using open coding, and produce a set of 14 hypotheses. In a second step, the first and third author have conducted a large-scale survey to validate those hypotheses."
    – xLeitix
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 12:14

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