Author Order

26 February 2007 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

Nicolai’s post on paper order got me thinking about author order, and how authorship ordering practices vary systematically across academic disciplines. In some scientific fields the lead author (or principal investigator) is listed first, while in others the lead author’s name comes last. In economics and business administration there isn’t a strong notion of “lead authorship,” and author names are usually listed alphabetically. There are, of course, prominent exceptions, such as Klein, Crawford, and Alchian (1978), Masten and Crocker (1985), and Hoskisson and Hitt (1994), to name just a few in organizational economics and strategy.

I’m curious to know how these practices evolved, and why they evolved differently in different disciplines. Surely some sociologists have written on this. (Academics tend to be narcissists, after all, and have shined the research spotlight on virtually every other aspect of their own profession!)

The social-science convention of usually-but-not-always-alphabetical ordering poses particular problems. How, for instance, do you communicate priority if the main author is first in the alphabet? Suppose my friends Mike Aarstol and Todd Zywicki get together. They can signal equal effort with “Aarstol and Zywicki” or give Todd the lead with “Zywicki and Aarstol.” But how do they give priority to Mike? “By Michael Aarstol, with special assistance from Todd Zywicki”?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Institutions.

Open-Source Cola Those Arrogant String Theorists

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