Dual first authors


A forthcoming paper in Philosophy of Science has dual first authors, Kate E. Lynch and Pierrick Bourrat (I’ve written about Dr. Bourrat’s work previously, which is part of the reason this is on my radar):

Author order has been decided randomly, therefore both authors are first authors. KEL and PB contributed equally to the manuscript. KEL’s distinct contribution was the ideas developed in Section 3. PB’s distinct contribution was the ideas developed in sections 4 and 5 and the equations in Section 3. Other sections received equal contributions from both authors.

Dual first authorship and footnotes about equal contributions are not that rare, but it’s the ‘randomly’ that caught my attention. Random assignment of authorship order is certainly fair, but so are other methods. If I ever coauthor a paper with dual first authors, I may have to mix it up a little:

Author order has been decided by a game of Settlers of Catan, therefore both authors are first authors.


Author order has been decided by fisticuffs, therefore both authors are first authors (MDH is recovering nicely).

What about a chili-eating contest? A fish-off? Thunderdome? Maybe not.

I’m open to other suggestions.


  1. says

    In (pure) maths, author order is strictly alphabetical and there is no distinction between first or second authors or such, as they are all assumed to have contributed equally (although that’s not always the case, of course).

    In fact the bar for being a named coauthor is usually set pretty high, with smaller contribution relegated to the acknowledgement section, an appendix or just a comment within the text (“we learned the following Lemma from XY”).

    Anyway, I would love to settle author order by a game of Cards Against Humanity 🙂

  2. Johnny Vector says

    Reviewer 3 says: Settlers of Catan has known lockout and other gameplay issues. Please resubmit after deciding with a game of Carcassonne.

    Unless you’re submitting to Int’l. J. Wood for Sheep. in which case, carry on.

  3. oualawouzou says

    Catan? Carcassonne? Bah. Nothing short of Smash Up will do: first one to win with the Innsmouth faction gets to be named first.


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