As a Research Associate I wrote a paper which was published with my professor line manager as second author (even though he didn't work on the paper). I did the research, I wrote the paper, yet his name appears first and mine second in all online repositories such as Google scholar etc. Is this right? What should I do if it is not? Should I be even bothered about this? In the actual paper PDF which can be downloaded my name appears first. It was a good paper as it won an award. But in online repositories my name appears second.

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    This certainly seems odd. If you go to the website where the paper is listed by the publisher/conference - usually where the DOI leads, if you have one - is the author order there correct with you being shown as first author? – BrianH Jan 12 '17 at 15:56
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    I took away the plagiarism tag because it doesn't really describe the situation here. Anyway, I would be much more inclined to suspect a mistake or bug than foul play. Hanlon's razor, you know. – Nate Eldredge Jan 12 '17 at 16:02
  • @Nate Eldredge Yes I guess you're right, especially since automated citation tools would replicate this error without prejudice. The citation on my professors web page even shows his name first. I'm sure he's not that brash. I'll have a chat with him about it. – Pixel Jan 12 '17 at 16:07
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    @Algorist: Just a thought: some people list their own coauthored publications with their own name first. (I don't endorse this practice; I'm just pointing out its existence.) I wonder if that has anything to do with it. – Pete L. Clark Jan 12 '17 at 16:10
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    @Pete L. Clark I wasn't aware of that, which could explain his name being first on his web page. However, it's still annoying that he is shown as main author when doing a quick Google search. I'll have a chat with him - it's hopefully just a mistake that's being replicated automatically... – Pixel Jan 12 '17 at 16:24

If you're the legitimate first author of the paper, I wouldn't even bother to find out why the error happened in the first place. Instead, my answer focuses on your question of what to do now.

There are two good reasons why you should insist on a correct authorship record: (i) First authorship of a (good) paper is a valuable asset. (ii) So are citations of your paper. With inconsistent information in the repositories and the paper itself, citation counting tools like that of Google Scholar might not index all of its citations. Keeping that in mind,

  • the most important party to contact is the publisher of the paper, since these people maintain the official record. In particular, they distribute the meta-data of their publications to other repositories. I can't tell if they will actually distribute individual error-fixes as well, as would be the most convenient option in your case. Still, they can correct the faulty data in their own repository, which will strengthen your case when you contact other parties.

  • Some databases/repositories, like DBLP, allow you to submit error reports individually. You can google for "(name_of_database) error report" or just look on the respective database's website to find details.

  • With Google Scholar, the situation is a bit more tedious, since they do not provide a process to submit error reports. Information usually gets checked and updated automatically after some months; there is nothing you can do to trigger this process. The thing you can do is to create a new, corrected entry for the paper in your profile. Then you can "merge" it with the existing entry, so that citations of the paper with its current authorship information are counted.

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    According to this: harzing.com/popbook/ch2_4_3.htm you can supposedly report an error to Google Scholar. Never tried it myself, but the links therein might be useful for your answer. +1 anyway! – BrianH Jan 12 '17 at 17:06
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    Thanks. I will do all of the above, and still speak to the professor. – Pixel Jan 12 '17 at 17:15
  • @BrianDHall Thanks! But the link on that website goes to a generic contact form. Actually, using this form for error reports seems to contradict the course of action suggested by Google Scholar itself (in essence, "tell the webmasters of the source website to fix it and wait 6-9 months"). – lighthouse keeper Jan 12 '17 at 17:25
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    @lighthousekeeper Haha, "appropriately irritated" - that's actually a really good link, and it seems you are quite right. I think I'd accept your source, from the horse's mouth, over the contact form I suggested too :) – BrianH Jan 12 '17 at 17:27
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    Feedback regarding the Google Scholar Report Form: a few months ago, a paper of mine appeared under another researcher's Google Scholar profile (similar names). I manually added the paper to my profile, and then used the contact form mentioned by Brian. A few weeks later, the issue was solved. Of course, I don't know if someone at Google took a look at my report and solved the issue, or if it was automatically fixed. – Executer Jan 12 '17 at 17:56

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