I have an article I'm writing where I'm the senior author, but I also did the majority of the work and wrote the paper. I have two co-authors who have also contributed.

In my field (physical sciences) the norm is that the senior author goes last and the person who wrote the paper/did the majority of the work is first author. Everyone else goes in between.

What should the order should be in this situation when lead and senior author are same person?

  • 1
    I'm not in the physical sciences, but I've seen papers where an asterick is placed next to the first author's name. At the bottom of the page, a short footnote then indicates that the first author is also the P.I.
    – tonysdg
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 13:02
  • 7
    Surely the role of lead author trumps the position of senior author and you should be first. And it would be obvious you're the lead, since you're first... why a footnote should ever be needed amazes me. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 13:11
  • 5
    Put your name twice?
    – JAB
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 1:31
  • 2
    Most examples I have seen would put you as first author, but also indicate you as "corresponding author" .
    – Gerhard
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 15:13
  • 2
    (Addendum) The convention may indeed be unecessary -- it looks to me from my experience of chemistry journals and my (3 minutes') experience of electrical engineering that, in an electrical engineering context, @FredDouglis is totally right. But in the OP's case the convention is what it is and, in the context of the question, it would be obvious to the physical sciences reader that che-kid were the 'lead' but not that he was the 'senior' author. And maybe that shouldn't matter but, again, in the context of those journals' conventions, it does.
    – owjburnham
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 8:41

3 Answers 3


I've been in a similar situation as a co-author in a paper where the corresponding and the senior author are the same. In this case, this author listed herself as the first author (since she made most of the work and wrote the paper) and the remaining co-authors were listed alphabetically. An important detail is that some journals allow or even require that you specify the contributions of each author.


I have been in a similar situation recently (I did about 70% of the work) and in the end I decided to go as last author and put the persons that contributed second most (about 15%) as first author.

The decision was mainly based on what would benefit me personally more and at my current career stage and it seemed more important to me to get the number of senior authorships up (n=4) than the number of first authorships (n=16) - especially for the tenure-track evaluation ... and it also made the fist author very happy.


I would disagree with the other posters: you should be last author. Reasons:

  • Being last author is more prestigious/important.
  • Students are expected to be first author. If any other authors are your student, if you make yourself first author, people who are not familiar with the situation may assume you have stolen the first authorship from someone you have power over.
  • 1
    Please consider that author order is field-dependent. In my field, being first author is more prestigious/important.
    – user9482
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 10:13

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