If someone gets his name second on a paper despite the two contributing the same amount of work and this fact is indicated so, are both authors co-first authors?

  • 2
    I don't think so. If both contributed the same, one way to determine the order is by listing the name following the alphabetical order. Also, they can work on another paper and switch order of authors (if possible?)
    – The Guy
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
  • Actually, it's not clear to me what you're asking that isn't already addressed in those other questions. Perhaps you can edit your post to clarify.
    – ff524
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 19:17
  • Im asking if Im a co first author
    – 123movies
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:18
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    @Goldname: Conventions on the significance of author ordering are very different in different fields (e.g. in most areas of mathematics, authors are always ordered alphabetically). So if you could say what field you are in, that would be very helpful.
    – PLL
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:35

1 Answer 1


There is only one first author. But the 'prestige' associated with the first author, in certain fields, could be extended to a second author.

An example:

The two authors contributed equally to this work

(source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.7748.pdf)

When cited, this work would be "Najman and Cousty" ("Najman"/"Najman et al" in some contexts, if more than 2 authors), but it is clearly stated that both authors contributed equally, so they both share the 'main author' credit.

(this is the only example I know of this approach, they were my phd advisors - yes, both of them)

  • 1
    It's ... not common but not incredibly rare. I'd say in the earth sciences I see it, at a rough guess, on a couple of percent of papers. Occasionally three "these authors contributed equally", not just two; I think usually the equal-contributors are alphabetically ordered but it's not universal. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 19:52
  • The problem with alphabetic order (alone) is that, in fields where the order matters, it becomes unclear.... Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 21:10

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