First-Author Determinants: An Empirical Analysis

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 16.04.2003, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Mirjam C. van Praag (Copenhagen Business School)


This paper reports the results of an empirical analysis of name ordering strategies used for multi-authored academic papers in economics. We distinguish two name –ordering strategies: alphabetic and non –alphabetic. We investigate two questions. (1) What are the determinants of an author group’s name ordering strategy? And (2) Is scientific standing or output affected by the relative alphabetic position of one’s last name, given the dominant usage of alphabetic name ordering? We find that the distribution over the author group of relative costs and benefits of being a first author is clearly accounted for when positioning authors of a group. Economists are correct in perceiving name ordering as a deliberate decision. The usefulness of this deliberation is supported by the answer to our second question: is scientific standing lower for authors whose names rank low in the alphabet? Career prospects are better for academic economists who have high chances to be a first author, though this effect does not become clear instantaneously, but when an economist’s career is more advanced and reputation and visibility might have been achieved already.

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