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Currently I am writing a paper with several collaborators; although I am the primary author to this (I have done a large (>85%) majority of the work and have actually written the paper) my last name begins with W. I feel obligated to include their names on the paper, however, I fear that doing so will degrade my ownership of the paper. Where should I mention them in the paper?

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    $\begingroup$ This kind of questions is usually more welcome and on-topic on academia.stackexchange.com. $\endgroup$ Jan 9 '14 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ @federico I would agree except that every academic field other than maths uses non-alphabetic author order to signal something about roles or relative contributions. $\endgroup$
    – guest
    Jan 9 '14 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ The AMS has guidelines concerning whom should be offered authorship on a paper: "However, the authors listed for a paper must all have made a significant contribution to its content, and all who have made such a contribution must be offered the opportunity to be listed as an author." See ams.org/notices/200206/from-ams-sec.pdf $\endgroup$ Jan 9 '14 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ don't use the name nicbit on the manuscript $\endgroup$
    – Will Jagy
    Jan 10 '14 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ Make sure you ask the other collaborators what they want, and err on the generous side in assigning credit and offering co-authorship. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '14 at 1:06
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If they are co-authors on the paper then add them alphabetically as is customary for math journals. Otherwise if they are not co-authors then just mention them in acknowledgements. If you want to record the author contributions, you can add this as a separate section after acknowledgements. You can also list yourself as the "corresponding author" if you want to show that you have more ownership of the paper.

Edit: Although I don't disagree with most of the other answer, I think that the role of corresponding author will often be interpreted as having more significance than simply as the co-author with the most stable email address. As in one of the comments on the question here I've shared the experience of being co-author on a paper where the PI was suspiciously eager to be corresponding author. I'm not sure how widespread is the interpretation like 'corresponding authorship signals primary authorship when the author order is alphabetical and there is no other indication' but I think it's good to at least be aware that some people will interpret it in this way.

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I completely disagree with "guest"s answer. It is quite possible to have authors in non-alphabetical order, and "corresponding author" means that that person has a steady mailing address (often some of the authors are postodcs). In mathematics it is customary to have authors in alphabetical order, it's true, so having a non-alphabetical order underscores that there is major inequality in contribution (needless to say, all authors must agree to this).

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    $\begingroup$ @YuichiroFujiwara that corrigendum has an interesting history, but what's amusing (not to me at the time, nor now, but perhaps to some) is that the page proofs had the correct order of authors, and then the typesetter decided that (s)he had never seen alphabetic inversion, and changed things without informing anyone. So, apparently guest's view was popular in typesetting circles. $\endgroup$
    – Igor Rivin
    Jan 10 '14 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ "It is quite possible to have authors in non-alphabetical order." That's quite true, and the proof is that it happens every now and again. However, because unalphabetical orderings occur in less than 1% of math papers, it does not seem to be a good idea to use this practice to convey a message about author contributions. When I see an unalphabetized paper I can tell that the authors are trying to signify something, but because I am unfamiliar with the practice, I never know exactly what. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '14 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover, since it occurs so rarely even when in practice lots of math papers have unequal contributions, when I do see it I wonder whether the junior authors are being bullied by the senior authors. I think a much better practice would be to "record author contributions" as in the other answer. Admittedly this is not done often either, but I'm not sure why. I did this in an important (by my standards) paper that I wrote with a somewhat junior coauthor: some of the results came from his thesis (which I had nothing to do with), and I wanted that to be part of the record. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '14 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ One final point: if you want to convey information about contributions based on ordering of names, what do you do if the person whose contribution you wish to emphasize comes first in the alphabet? $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '14 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ Another thing to note about author order is that it is not all other fields that has the last author be the one who did the least. Sometimes in the biomedical sciences, the last author is the one who had the overall responsibility for the project. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '14 at 8:18

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