Some papers have co-first authors, which are supposed to have contributed equally. However, there is still an order issue.

Imagine a paper co-authored by A, B, and C. The paper goes like:

                                     A Very Long Paper Title
                                         A*, B*, and C
Our work is good.
* A and B contributed equally to the work.

In this case, is it acceptable for B to cite this paper as follows in his/her CV?

B*, A*, and C. A Very Long Paper Title. Journal of Stack Exchange. Jan. 2015. (* indicates the co-first authorship)

Note the position swap.

  • 19
    I think we had this discussion before, but I can't find it. Anyway, no, you really shouldn't do that. Even if you agree that a paper has joint first authors, the "signature" of the paper (title, authors including ordering, etc.) is fixed. You can't mix this up. You are of course free to add something like (joint first author), e.g., to the end of the citation.
    – xLeitix
    Feb 8 '15 at 13:52
  • 4
    I agree with xLeitix and yo'. If you were applying for a position and we (or more likely, our eagle-eyed deputy provost) noticed this, it would likely lead to concern about misrepresentation -- enough to tank an application at a stage where there is no room for rebuttal (i.e., we won't contact you to clarify, your application will just be dropped). Remember you're competing against scores of people equally qualified.
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 8 '15 at 15:13
  • @xLeitix: Are you thinking of the question in which the OP, Mr. X, was co-first authors with coauthor Mr. Y, and Mr. Y wanted the author list to read Y,X,.....? My answer to that question was that practice makes no sense: if authors are claimed to have contributed equally then they should be listed in alphabetical order. That's not the same question as this one because the order has already been determined in the publication. As others have said: you can't mess with that order, and trying to will make you look worse, not better. Feb 8 '15 at 17:51

No. The reference is the reference, changing it to move yourself higher could be misinterpreted as willful deceit.

Add a parenthetical statement at the end of the references saying "first n authors are co-first authors, listed in this order because..."

On my "internal" CV I have parentheticals after many papers, for example, listing contributions, nominations for best paper, etc.

  • 1
    About what might this be interepreted as deceit?
    – Sparr
    Feb 8 '15 at 17:10
  • 9
    You are changing the published author order to put yourself higher? I can see some people interpreting this poorly ("they changed the author order to make themselves look more prominent.... Really?"). The published order is the published order. In Computer Science, I have never heard of anyone doing this and I think it would raise eyebrows. Perhaps it's common in other fields. Feb 8 '15 at 17:13
  • 8
    Put another way: if it's already noted that it's co-first-author, what reasonable reason would there be to swap. The published author order was chosen for a reason, so swapping it on your CV seems completely bizzare. I'd interpret it poorly, because it's unnecessary and thus inexplicable. Feb 8 '15 at 17:16
  • 1
    I think there's some confusion about what co-first-author means here.
    – Sparr
    Feb 8 '15 at 19:08
  • 1
    Not really. I understand what it means (the poster was pretty clear). My point is that every publication has a published author order; changing it on your CV might raise flags in people who read it. Seems pretty simple. I'm not saying it absolutely will, I'm simply saying it might. I see it as possibly doing harm, and doing no real good. Surely I could be missing something, though. Please explain what I'm missing. Feb 8 '15 at 19:34

One thing you can do (and some people do), is that you omit the names at the beginning of the references and include them in the end, like:

List of Publications

Study of ABC in the context of DEF (with J. Doe and J. Soe). Journal of ABCDEF 45(5):170, 2013.

Note on DEF (with J. Doe and G. Surname). Communications of FooBar 10(1):1, 2014.

However, remember that this is more common in fields where the order of the authors is most usually alphabetic. In fields where First Author, Second Author and Last Author are significant, this would be really uncommon, and an academic committee of any type will likely consider it as that you credit work of others as yours.

  • 3
    I tried this style in my CV for a few years early in my career but was told by higher ups in the university that they preferred to see the conventional "first author, second author, ..." listing. I don't think the battle is worth fighting at this point. Feb 8 '15 at 15:35
  • 1
    I list publications this way (with links) on my webpage: the point is that I am describing what I'm linking to (also, more than half of the publications are single-authored, so this is more efficient). On a CV though I see no choice but to give the formal, correct bibliographic citation, and in this you are not allowed to move authors' names around. Feb 8 '15 at 17:47
  • @PeteL.Clark I think I've seen it this way in official documents like CV or thesis' list of publications. But as I say, I'm in a field where the order of authors has zero significance, so this is not a problem.
    – yo'
    Feb 8 '15 at 18:39
  • I have to resist posting this PHD comics ...
    – yo'
    Feb 9 '15 at 2:02

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