Getting your name on an article is becoming more and more important in the “publish or perish” era. Although I believe writing papers is an excellent objective for doing research, deciding who should be on the paper can become tricky in some cases.
- writing part of the paper;
- sharing a method (experimental or numerical) and how to use it;
- producing results (experimental or numerical);
- giving ideas, suggestions, and directions;
- funding the project.
- The first author is the person in charge of the paper. He/she manages the writing process and the contributions of everybody. His/her responsibility is to submit the paper. But before that, he/she must send the manuscript according to the agreed timeline to all co-authors that need to contribute to the text. He/she is also responsible for acknowledging funding and people having an indirect contribution. His/her right is to get feedback from the co-authors in due time provided he/she respected the deadline.
- The promoter is officially the academic responsible of your work. He/she might not be your direct advisor (see next point) but is still the guarantor of the scientific soundness. Because of that, he/she has a veto on what you want to publish. However, since he/she also trains you to become an independent researcher, you might receive autonomy for some decisions. The promoter is responsible for suggesting co-authors as he/she has a better overview of the research being done. If you were not added to a paper which you thought you belonged, your supervisor is the person to talk to. The promoter is generally placed last if he was also your main advisor for the work (see next point). If you have more than one promoter, follow the same rule.
- The advisor is the person who supervised you during the work. He/she is responsible for suggesting co-authors, providing suggestions and feedback in due time according to the timeline agreed upon with the first author. He/she has the right to be kept in the loop without chasing the first author. In our research groups, we want to acknowledge people’s real contribution. Therefore, he/she should be placed last even if he/she is not the promoter. Note, however, that another decision might be taken together with the promoter for specific cases, e.g. strategy of the group.
- The co-authors are all other contributors as defined above. They have the responsibility to contribute and provide feedback according to the timeline agreed upon. At the same time, they have the right to be informed and to receive the manuscript early enough for a review.