Pragmatics of authors-name order

Lesa Dill lesa.dill at WKU.EDU
Tue Feb 24 16:57:49 UTC 2004

In scientific publications, the norm is that the primary investigator's name is
listed last.  That struck me as odd when I first began studying molecular
genetics.  I assumed if there wasn't an arbitrary alphabetical listing, the first
name was that of the major researcher or professor supervising the work. I guess
I should never assume anything across disciplines. ??

Laurence Horn wrote:

> At 11:20 AM -0500 2/24/04, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
> >
> >Even an alphabetical listing is ambiguous: we can't be sure that the authors
> >are following the alphabet rule or one of the other rules in a situation in
> >which it JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE CASE that the most important author
> >(or the one
> >with the grant, etc.) has an early-alphabet last name.
> >
> Sometimes a jointly authored paper will include a footnote at the end
> of line giving the authors' names which reads "The names of the
> authors are listed in alphabetical order" or something along those
> lines.  To which my disingenuous response is "Duh", but of course the
> implicature is "...and for no other reason."
> larry

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