- Alice comes up with the problem and makes some obvious observations about it, she shows it to others, who solve it. She writes it all up. (Alice got the co-authorship.)
- Alice comes up with the problem and makes some obvious observations about it, she shows it to others, who solve it. She does not write it up but does some proofreading. (I've seen this twice- once she got the co-author, once not.)
- Bob shows Alice a problem, Alice makes one observation that is the key. She has put only 2 minutes of work into the paper. (Alice got the co-authorship.)
- Bob has already written up the 50 page paper and it has covered all of the cases except for one. Alice solves the one case left. It was not a hard case at all. (Alice did not get the co-authorship.)
- Bob and Carol solve the problem together. Alice is in the room and does not contribute anything, but her tenure case is coming up soon and she is a bit short on papers. (Alice got the co-authorship. This is a rare scenario.)
- Alice proofreads a paper and finds a serious flaw in it, but fixes tht flaw. It was a rather subtle flaw and needed very clever argument to fix it. (Alice got the co-authorship.)
- Alice reads Bob's paper and comes up with a generalization that Bob does not care about, but wouldn't really be worth a paper on its own. (The paper did not have the generalization and Alice did not get the co-authorship.)
- Alice makes a key observation that makes all of the proofs shorter. The Conference version has her as a co-author. However, while writing up the journal version it is noticed that Alice's contribution was not correct. It is removed and the journal version is pretty much what it would have been had Alice not been involved at all. (Alice asked to be taken off of the journal version The other authors were surprised by this and did not mind keeping her as an author. They pointed out that there were other people on the paper that were even less involved. But they agreed to take her off on her insistence.)
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
When does Alice deserve to be a co-author?
When has someone done enough work to deserve a co-authorship? Here are a few scenarios I have seen. I will say what did happen, not what should have happened.