Q: What are the acceptable reasons for changing the order of authors?
If I want to change the order of authors (excluding first author and correspondent author), what are the possible reasons journal editors might accept?
The order of authors for a paper usually reflects their level of contribution. The first author contributes the most significantly, the second author to a lesser extent, and so on. The corresponding author is typically the department head. So, changing the order of authors for a paper should reflect a change in their amount of contribution.
While making the revisions suggested by the reviewers, the contributions by some authors may become greater, increasing their level of contribution to the overall paper. This can happen if the reviewers recommend additional experiments or analyses which are done exclusively by these authors, thus increasing their contribution.
Another possible reason why the author sequence might need to be changed is if there was an error in the original sequence. Whatever the reason, all the co-authors must agree to the change and provide their written approval. Only then will the change be accepted by the journal.
The corresponding author can share the revised order with the journal editor, along with the approval of the different authors. Journal editors should not have a problem with the change as long as the approval is attached.