I don't think the rank of the co-author list is random. It must follow some order that's definitely not the time order. I used to think that this rank depends on the number of papers you and the co-authors wrote, the number of citation of those co-authored papers have, etc. But I don't think this is true now since I found some hard evidence that this thought failed. So my question is how Google Scholar ranks the co-author list?

  • I wanna say the ranking is based on the number of citations the co-authors have with, but I’m not 100% sure.
    – The Guy
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:33
  • @TheGuy That criterion doesn't fit the output on my profile. I have a certain author A (one paper in common, cited 9 times) rated higher than author B (one paper in common, cited 12 times). Nov 5, 2017 at 18:09
  • @FedericoPoloni thanks for the input! I just took a wild guess based on my profile!
    – The Guy
    Nov 5, 2017 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


The coauthors are ranked by relevance, and the exact definition of relevance probably changes over time. Papers and citations are obviously important factors. Google may also consider other factors such as the age (or age distribution) of the citations or the overall ranking of the coauthor among all researchers. The ranking of A in the coauthor list of B might also be influenced by the ranking of B in the coauthor list of A.

In my profile, a coauthor with 2 shared papers (20+3 citations) is ranked higher than a coauthor with 3 shared papers (9+3+0 citations). This person is ranked higher than another coauthor with 1 shared paper (35 citations), who is in turn ranked higher than another person with 2 shared papers (5+3 citations). You could produce a ranking like this with a weighted sum of the number of papers and the number of citations, but that's probably not the whole story.

It's good to remember that Google is a search/advertising company. Ranking pieces of information by relevance is their core business. They won't disclose the exact details of the rankings, as those details are important trade secrets. Google also keeps changing the details, as advertisers and websites would otherwise learn to game the system, making the rankings less useful.

  • I wish Google can provide some more details about how they did this. We used to have this hypothesis that the higher the students are on the co-author list of their advisors, the more likely they will get a position at a higher ranked organization. Nov 8, 2017 at 11:30
  • 3
    But no author will pay them, will they? Jan 30, 2019 at 17:10

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