It may sound like a straight forward matter, but deciding the order of authorship for a paper is often a difficult task. Experienced chemists say the decision is easiest when the head of a lab discusses the matter early and often, embraces transparency, makes authorship contribution-based, and acknowledges what contributions were made.
Professor Joan F. Brennecke of the University of Texas at Austin, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data, says the easiest solution is to decide early and to communicate it clearly to everyone. Since authoring has been done for so long, ask how it’s been done in the past. This way you can set the expectations in your group for how it will be decided. Brennecke mentions that most students have access to classes that discuss authorship and its basis.
A good way to head off conflict is to make authors aware of their level of authorship when they join the team, advises Professor Olaf G. Weist, of the University of Notre Dame.
“If you use authorship as a currency, rather than a merit based thing, that doesn’t work very well,” says Professor Phil Baran of The Scripps Research Institute, Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). It should be based on science, and that way it will always be just, he argues.
Professor Bradley D. Smith of the University of Notre Dame says to add an author information section which shows what each author contributed.
For more publishing tips, visit the ACS Publishing Center, a centralized hub for researchers to prepare and track manuscripts. This website features centralization of information for ease of discovery of resources on submission, open access licensing, peer review education and more. Customized publishing information, including tracking of your published work, is available upon login. Log in today to discover how the ACS Publishing Center can help you advance your research.