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.