Pragmatics of authors-name order

Gwyn Alcock alcockg at SRICRM.COM
Wed Feb 25 02:39:24 UTC 2004

Anthropology and archaeology usually vary between who-did-more-work order,
and Big-Thoughts-first order. Straight alpha is usually used only when the
egos get so big that there's no other way to resolve the issue. The
equivalent of "owner of the lab" doesn't exist. I have suspected that a
collaborating couple with numerous coauthored papers flip coins for senior

On larger reports or monographs, editor/s are commonly listed who wrote
little, if any, of the report but who reviewed it for content and who assume
responsibility if it's incorrect. The actual authors will be listed as
specific contributors (and can be cited on a chapter-specific basis), but
the cited "authors" of the entire work are the editor/s. The references are
supposed to include (editors) after their names.

All that is subject to change if politics enters into it.

Then there's the case of the well-known, powerful professor in California
anthropology who was known for inserting himself as senior author when his
grad student/s did all the work and thinking. We pass on by word of mouth
who really did all the work, but we still have to cite the works as
"Professor and Student." I'm sure there are similar cases in other regions.

Gwyn Alcock

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