Pragmatics of authors-name order

Geoffrey S. Nathan an6993 at WAYNE.EDU
Wed Feb 25 01:05:02 UTC 2004

At 11:03 AM 2/24/04, you wrote:
>Is this written down somewhere, or are you just reporting your intuitions?
>(Not that the reporting of intuitions is bad--it is just important to know
>the source is for such judgments.)

I have discussed this with the Associate Provost for Academic Personnel at
Wayne State (who reads all the university's tenure and promotion dossiers),
and she tells me that there is great variation within the 'sciences'.  For
example, in some disciplines, including a number of medical ones, the last
named author is the person who 'owns' the lab, but may have done no work at
all on the actual research.  But there is considerable variation on this,
and in some cases second authorship counts, because you give your graduate
student first authorship.  You just have to know the individual culture,
and in cross-disciplinary committees there has to be considerable work to
done to explain just exactly this issue.  Explaining single-authored
humanities and linguistics papers to physicists takes work.

Geoffrey S. Nathan <geoffnathan at>
Linguistics Program and Faculty Liaison, Computing and Information Technology

Wayne State University          Linguistics:  (313) 577-8621
Department of English,                  C&IT:  (313) 577-1259
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI, 48202

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