I wrote three articles with several colleagues. Now in two of them I was included as second author. I am fine with that as the idea was not mine. The results of my research were used though. But my colleague gave a good contribution to the article, as it was not my area of expertise. Now the same colleague tried to put himself as first author in an article in which I have done most of the job. I changed the author order, and he came back with an annotation saying "both authors (He and I)" equally contributed.

I would just delete the note and say it is inappropriate because I have done most of the work. However, as we are colleagues I would like avoid conflicts as much as possible.

How can I convey to my colleague that I'm not okay with them being cited as main author while I did most of the work?

  • What is "most of the work" for you? Feb 7, 2019 at 11:54
  • @XtremeBaumer In my article I edited all the data, programmed the GUI, developed algorithm and all is included in the article. Furthermore, I wrote the whole structure of the article. He contributed to intro, methods and conclusion.
    – drSlump
    Feb 7, 2019 at 12:10
  • 1
    Hey there, welcome on IPS :) I edited your question to remove the off topic parts, as we can't decide whether something is appropriate, only we can help you on telling your colleague that you're not okay with them trying to get the credit for your work. Feel free to check our tour and ask us if you need help. Have a great time around!
    – avazula
    Feb 7, 2019 at 12:45
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    Hi drSlump, did you think about browsing academia.se? could it be adding value to one answer here, or help here?
    – OldPadawan
    Feb 7, 2019 at 14:25
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    Just FYI, the question of who deserves to be first author in this case would be appropriate on academia.se. (This is the right forum to ask how to raise the issue with your colleague.)
    – mhwombat
    Feb 7, 2019 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


I'd approach it as trying to clear up a misunderstanding, something like the following :

I'd like to talk about your last annotation on article X. I've agreed in the past to be presented as a second author in previous articles we've worked on together, because of A and B. For this article though, I've done A, B and C and thought it was clear I am the primary author of this article. I'd like this to be reflected in the author order, without annotations, like we did in previous articles. I’m sure you don’t mean to belittle my work, so is there something I'm missing of why you think this time we should add that we both equally contributed ?

I would do it this way because :

  • It is non-confrontational approach, you’re not accusing him of anything, you’re trying to understand something weird. Make your tone reflect that, like you’re talking to a colleague about a weird issue.
  • You’re highlighting what happened in previous articles, and how it differs with what’s happening now. With this you’re gently calling him out, you know there’s a double standard here, and you won’t just let it pass by.
  • The last sentence is optional, depending on how “soft” you want to approach this and on how you think your colleague will react. If you find it too soft, you can change it too something more strong but still kind, something like this :

[…] in previous articles. I like working with you and would like to continue in the future, but I want my work to be respected. Do you agree with that ?

If he still wants to be named as an equal author, you'll need to be more direct, say you won't do that and re-explain briefly why.

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