The issue of authorship is often a thorny issue in academia, so I’d like to ask for your insight into the authorship in the following situation:
My advisee’s MA thesis is mainly and originally based on a new idea from me. We worked together to refine the idea and turned it into a thesis. I worked closely with him, spending 6 hours per week meeting with him to examine the collected data (he spent about 4 hours per week for data collection). Finally, he completed his thesis with a lot of work and graduated. After his graduation, I approached the student and asked him if he would be interested in publishing the study. He declined this offer mainly due to his availability and due to his work but appreciated this possibilities. Seeing the potential of the collected data, I decided to do this alone.
To make the study publishable, I substantially revised more than 80 % of the student's work, using a different analysis method to recode the data and revamping the introduction, literature review, discussion, and conclusion sections. In other words, the revised paper, albeit being based on the student’s raw data set, is already substantially different from the student’s original work; the rationale is different and the focus is also different (just to appeal to the scope of the journal of our interest and the readership of the journal).
The revised work was then submitted to a respected journal. I took care of all of the responses and revisions (three rounds of major revision + two rounds of minor revision), and the paper finally got accepted. Of course, I asked the student to read the paper and he liked/approved the paper.
I listed my student as the first author and myself as the corresponding author. But given my student’s contribution to this publication, is he qualified as the first author? Or should he be listed as the second author and myself as first author? What should I do so that I can strike a balance between the ethical code and the effort I have put to this paper?