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(A followup for this question)

Say your field's convention is to have alphabetical-ordered author list. What should you do when your work is accepted to a (multidisciplinary) journal in which the convention is to order the author by contribution (e.g. Nature)?

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My first stop would be checking if the journal has any particular authorship policies. If it does, follow them - if its not the way your field does it, welcome to the perils of interdisciplinary research.

From there, in my mind, it splits into two questions:

  • Is it a field-specific paper that happens to be going in an interdisciplinary journal. For example, are all the authors from Alphabetical Author List Field? Then put it in that field's ordering.
  • Is it genuinely interdisciplinary (multiple fields with different traditions)? I'd probably default to the non-alphabetical ordering scheme, as among people I work with its the more common ordering scheme, and those who come from other fields that don't do that are generally pretty understanding. Or, if the authorship list is small enough, see if there's a clever ordering of author names that gets everyone what they need (it happens).
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If it's a well-known journal like Nature, then I would follow their convention. Everybody who reads the article will assume that you do.

  • Why is this better than having a note saying "alphabetical author list"? Wouldn't that possibly initiate an ego battle? – Ran G. Mar 5 '12 at 3:23
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    The note assumes people will read it. Most people won't, especially when skimming the abstract, or the entry on your CV. – Fomite Mar 5 '12 at 3:37
  • The CV is a great example: shuold you re-order the authors list when put there? Otherwise some of you papers will have alphabetical ordering and some not, which might be confusing (for both sides). – Ran G. Mar 10 '12 at 5:40

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