CSE Email List Discussion: Multiple First and Last Authors for Journal Papers

This column is the first in a regular series covering the Council of Science Editors’ email distribution list, in which members ask and answer one another’s questions. It’s a key member benefit and emphasizes the value of our expertise and experience—and provides a platform for members to help fellow members. Thanks to Tony Alves for tackling this issue’s question on how to handle requests for multiple first and last authors.   Original Question: We have published papers with 2 individuals identified as “first author” and/or 2 individuals identified as “senior author” or “last author.” The relevant footnotes usually state “these authors contributed equally to this work.” We recently received a paper in which 4 first and 4 last authors have been identified. This seems excessive. I am interested to learn how other journals have handled this situation. Are there any policies on how many first and last authors can be identified? D’Ann Finley, PhD, Assistant Editor, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition   Responses: Try CRediT? 1. The notion of using author order as a way to indirectly signal the level of contribution seems problematic. Explicit author recognition using the CRediT taxonomy ( seems like the way to go. Richard Wynne, VP Sales and Marketing, Aries Systems What Does Sequence Really Mean? 2. Some of these strange listings may result from the perverse ideas of promotion and tenure committees, who not sometimes try to specify a particular level of authorship, as contrasted with “just authorship.” Ingrid Philibert, PhD, MBA, Senior Vice […]

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