Q: Is it better for two people to do research on the same topic together?

Detailed Question -

In the presentation paper, if one name comes first and the other last, can this lead to an ego-problem?

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Answer:

Firstly, I have edited your question for enhanced understanding. Secondly, there are actually two aspects to your question, collaboration and (co-)authorship. Let me take these up separately.

Collaboration

To begin with, these days, many researchers work with one or multiple other researchers on the same paper. This is especially the case in the sciences. Researchers collaborate for several reasons: the research might be interdisciplinary, it might need to be completed faster than one person can do it, different researchers may have different skills and experience, and the research may need a pooling of (financial) resources. (Note: these are only a few reasons; there may be many others.) So, collaboration can indeed be beneficial. However, it is best to discuss the scope of collaboration – in terms of work, contribution, responsibilities, and other aspects – before starting the collaboration to avoid possible friction, dispute, and ego issues later.

(Co-)Authorship

While a multi-author paper has the benefit of multiple perspectives and possibly faster completion of the project, it also brings with it the challenge of authorship. Here too, there are two aspects, the extent of contribution by the different authors and the order of the authors on the paper. However, the International Council of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has clear guidelines about this. You may read about them here.

In your case, you will need to consider the following points before deciding who gets author credits, to what extent, and in what sequence. As you have talked of only two researchers (including you), I will refer to only dual-author scenarios.

  • If both of you have contributed to the same extent (although this is rare), you can write both authors’ names in alphabetical order according to the surname and mention in a footnote that both author contributed equally.
  • If one of you has contributed more significantly than the other, the first name should be that of the author contributing more and then the other.
  • In case you plan to present this paper at a seminar or conference (as you have mentioned that this is a ‘presentation paper’), the name of the author communicating with the conference organizers (also known as the corresponding author) should go first. In most cases, the corresponding author is also the lead author or researcher on the paper.

Finally, note that co-authorship can be a tricky issue, and it’s best, just as with collaboration, to discuss the matter before starting off on the paper, again to avoid potential dispute and ego clashes later.

For more information on these matters, you may refer to the following resources: