Debraj Ray, Arthur Robson, 30 October 2016

Alphabetical order is in many ways a good arrangement, but if your name begins with a letter that is early in the alphabet, it gives you significant and unwarranted advantages. This column – whose authors both have surnames starting with R, one of whom was once recommended a “wonderful paper” on which he was a co-author – proposes a new mechanism for co-authorship. It involves a coin toss to order co-authors, and an institutionally ratified symbol to signal random order. Such a mechanism would be fairer and more efficient, and it would displace alphabetical order through voluntary participation alone.

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