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April 27, 1970

Sequence of Authors' Names in Scientific Articles

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

JAMA. 1970;212(4):618-619. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170170062014

The sequence in which the names of the authors appear beneath the title of a scientific article transmits information, if the sequence is understood by both the author and the reader.

The first-named author (or the single author) is accepted as the senior principal worker, the one who has actually done more than half the work. The exception: the man contributing the significant new idea might justifiably put himself ahead of his colleague, who may actually have done most of the labor of research or preparation. A convention is already established to call the first-named the senior author, even though he may be junior in title or age.

The name (or names) in the middle are, of course, subordinate to the first. The middle position may also indicate that that author has less importance in the work than the last-named. Some of the middle names may be put there as