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Certified Random: A New Order for Co-Authorship

Debraj Ray ⓡ, Arthur Robson

NBER Working Paper No. 22602
Issued in September 2016, Revised in October 2018
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Health Care, Industrial Organization, Labor Studies, Monetary Economics, Public Economics, Political Economy, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Alphabetical name order is the norm for joint publications in economics. However, alphabetical order confers greater benefits on the first author. In a two-author model, we introduce and study certified random order: the uniform randomization of names made universally known by a commonly understood symbol. Certified random order (a) distributes the gain from first authorship evenly over the alphabet, (b) allows either author to signal when contributions are extremely unequal, (c) will invade an environment where alphabetical order is dominant, (d) is robust to deviations, (e) may be ex-ante more efficient than alphabetical order, and (f) is no more complex than the existing alphabetical system modified by occasional reversal of name order.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22602

Published: Debraj Ray ⓡ Arthur Robson, 2018. "Certified Random: A New Order for Coauthorship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 489-520, February. citation courtesy of

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