The Researcher as a Consumer of Scientific Publications: How do name-ordering conventions affect inferences about contribution credits?

Document Type



decision making, information processing, social norms, contribution credits, authorship


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


When researchers from different fields with different norms collaborate, the question arises of how nameordering

conventions are chosen and how they affect contribution credits. In this paper, we answer these

questions by studying two disciplines that exemplify the two cornerstones of name-ordering conventions: lexicographical

ordering (i.e., alphabetical ordering, endorsed in economics) and nonlexicographical ordering (i.e.,

ordering according to individual contributions, endorsed in psychology). Inferences about credits are unambiguous

in the latter arrangement but imperfect in the former, because alphabetical listing can reflect ordering

according to individual contributions by chance.

We contrast the fields of economics and psychology with marketing, a discipline heavily influenced by both.

Based on archival data, consisting of more than 38,000 journal articles, we show that the three fields have

different ordering practices. In two empirical studies with 351 faculty and graduate student participants from all

three disciplines, as well as in a computer simulation, we show that ordering practices systematically affect and

shape the allocation of perceived contributions and credit. Whereas strong disciplinary norms in economics and

psychology govern the allocation of contribution credits, a more heterogeneous picture emerges for marketing.

This lack of strong norms has detrimental effects in terms of assigned contribution credits.

Article Number


Publication Date

Winter 11-5-2008

This document is currently not available here.