Video clip: Xin often uses joint co-authorship when there have been equal contributions. If communication between research groups is good the problem of the order of the authors can usually be resolved.
Is it ever a problem to decide who should be first, second, third, last author?
Well I think it is difficult or it is not difficult in the sense that if you have communication with people in your group and with the other groups, most people are actually very understanding about where their position should be. It is really a matter of talking it through and everyone’s efforts need to be recognised and rewarded. At the same time as long as we keep the communication up and running and then keep that going all the time we should be able to sort that problem. And you know that has happened throughout my career, I’ve published many, many papers with joint first authors from my group or from people in other groups, and I have to say I’m pleased that that has never been a problem so far.
You can have joint first authors can you?
Yes you do.
How does that, how is that recognised?
And you can also have joint co-corresponding authors.
Oh co-corresponding, yeah.
How do they present that on, in the journal if you are co-corresponding author?
It just has stars and then a label which says these authors contributed equally. And that’s really very important. It's brought about when the whole science - it’s bigger science if you like - when you have lots and lots of activities to solve a big problem and usually for one single group or one person it's not possible to do it because you don’t have all the expertise to carry that out.
So at the top of the paper they’d have the first two names with asterisks saying these
Yeah you could have even three or four.
These are both equally important.
Oh that’s interesting.
Yeah, yeah we do that all the time.