Archive for October, 2007

What order are authors listed?

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

The order of authors is non-standard and sometimes controversial. There have been differing traditions, spoken or implied, over time, but ultimately, it’s up to individual journals to set guidelines and authors to decide on the order. One way that some journals are now handling this issue is to increase transparency by including a section detailing the contribution of each listed author.

The book How to write and publish a scientific paper (Greenwood Press, 2006; WZ 345 D274h 2006 Ref) has a chapter on “how to list the authors and addresses”:

If you have co-authors, problems about authorship can range from the trivial to the catastrophic.
–Maeve O’Connor

What is the right order? Unfortunately, there are no agreed-upon rules or generally accepted conventions. Some authors, perhaps to avoid arguments among themselves, agree to list their names alphabetically…. In the past, there was a tendency to list the head of the laboratory as an author whether or not he or she actively participated in the research. Often, the “head” was placed last…. As a result, the terminal spot seemed to acquire prestige…. A countervailing and more modern tendency has been to define the first author as the senior author and primary progenitor of the work being reported. Even when the first author is a graduate student and the second (third, fourth) author is head of the laboratory, perhaps even a Nobel Laureate, it is now accepted form to refer to the first author as the “senior author” and to assume that he or she did the largest part of the research. (p.46)

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, in their “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication” ( reads: “The order of authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Authors should be prepared to explain the order in which authors are listed.”

Here’s a paper that discusses the problems and proposes an alternative:
Sergei A Grando and Jeffrey D Bernhard. “First Author, Second Author, et Int,and Last Author”: A Proposed Citation System for Biomedical Papers. Science Editor. July – August 2003. Vol 26. No 4. p.122-123. from

For the searcher

Pubmed users can target first or last authors using the tags [first author] or [last author] (e.g., gartland jj[first author]) or the checkboxes on the Single Citation Matcher:


Local health information

Friday, October 5th, 2007

phillyhealthinfoLooking for where to get a flu shot? How to find out about upcoming lectures, health fairs, classes, conferences, screenings and seminars? The College of Physicians of Philadelphia provides an excellent resource for residents of the 5-county area looking for local health information. lets you browse or search by health topic or service type:

  • Clinics
  • Education
  • Government Agencies
  • Hotlines
  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Organizations and Associations
  • Specialty Medicine
  • Support Groups
  • Testing
  • Treatment Center
  • Volunteer Opportunities

If you provide any of these services or are planning a health-related event, consider submitting it for inclusion.

(More Philly sites in JEFFSelects)

See it first on the New Book Shelf!

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Yes, even in this digital age, we still buy quite a lot of new paper books for the Library. If you’d like to see what’s new, stop by the New Book Shelf; it’s behind the Reference Desk on the second floor. Displays change frequently, and you can request to borrow a new book by writing your name on the yellow slip inside the cover. We’ll call you when it’s available.

Among the books this week are these four on professional and ethical topics in the sciences:

acrina_scientificintegrity dee_buildingawis_ahanduphandelsman_entering

For those of you who think that the printed book is a thing of the past, you may be interested in this recent New York Times article on the subject.