During PhD studies (math/applied math) is it considered ok to have mainly or solely joint papers with other authors? For example three-author papers, me, supervisor and another author.

Can such papers form the basis of the PhD thesis? My concern is whether if only first-author or single author papers are considered useful for PhD studies.

  • 1
    Does the notion of first author exist in math?
    – PsySp
    Apr 29 '17 at 11:35
  • 1
    @PsySp Once you go far enough towards the applied side, sometimes. Apr 29 '17 at 11:53
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    @TobiasKildetoft OK, i got confused by the "math/applied math" sentence. In this case "applied" math should be really something really applied. Maybe the OP should clarify that in her/his field, authorship order_matters_ (unlike most math subjects)
    – PsySp
    Apr 29 '17 at 11:55
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    This is pretty common in my department (also applied math). I'm not sure about the author position issue, though. Surely, you couldn't form a thesis composed of papers with you all as 3rd author, for example. Ultimately, do the works form a cohesive body of work that illustrates your contribution to the field? That's for you, your advisor, and committee to decide, of course.
    – Chester
    Apr 30 '17 at 0:19
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    The more publications the better! Coauthorship where appropriate for your field. Contribution to a joint paper is better than no paper. Although I'm in math and biology so I'll have to admit it would very unusual for a biologist to not include supervisors. However we indicate contributions with author order. You're best to discuss this with others in your field, although you're unlikely to be able to exclude authors who've already contributed. It's more a matter of communicating your contribution to joint with to your examiners.
    – Tom Kelly
    Apr 30 '17 at 6:23

It will depend on the requirements of your course - ask your supervisor for clarification.

Having said that, I did write a handful of papers while I was completing my PhD - not a single one was with me being a sole author. Three of them had my supervisor and another academic as co-authors and the other 2 was with another academic (I was co-author of these).

These papers formed the 'backbone' of my successful PhD thesis. My supervisor indicated that having the papers published and then referencing them in the thesis served to strengthen the thesis, as those points had already been peer-reviewed.

If anything, they demonstrate some ability to collaborate with other academics.

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