In the wake of the discussion of how different fields have different measures of evaluation (a view I am not 100% on board with: if a subgroup chooses a method of evaluation antithetical to the mores of the rest of academe, don’t be surprised if the group gets little respect outside their narrow group), it was interesting to flip through a recent issue of Nature (thanks Ilona!). In addition to a fascinating article on the likelihood of Mercury colliding with the Earth in the next 3 billion years or so (about 1/2500 if I read things correctly), it was interesting to note the apparently required paragraph for co-authored papers:
J.L. designed the study, performed the simulations, and their analysis and wrote the paper. M.G. wrote the computer code.
(other articles with more coauthors divvy up the work in more detail).
We don’t do this in operations research (at least as far as I have seen) and I have made a point of always going with alphabetical author listing (which generally puts me last, though I have sought out co-authors Yildiz, Yunes, and Zin recently) which has the aura of equal participation, even in cases where the participation is not so equal. Other people try to order by contribution, though it is unclear what metric to use in such a case. In promotion and tenure, we typically (at our school) do not try to parse out individual contributions to papers, though we do discuss individual strengths and weaknesses.
I think this sort of paragraph would actually be a boon to our literature. It would force some people to think about why they are really part of a paper, and add honesty to the system. Of course, it also adds to the arguing and power struggle that can arise in research collaborations.