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Co-Authorship in the Academy

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

For graduate students, working collaboratively on academic projects and presentations can provide valuable opportunities to build a record of publications as well as apprenticeship into academic writing. Sharing the burden and the excitement of preparing a manuscript or conference proposal for submission can be particularly appealing to young scholars who are still learning the ins and outs of this genre. Research has also demonstrated that co-authored pieces are on the rise in linguistic scholarship: In their review of publication patterns for the last 25 years in 12 linguistics journals, José and Berti (2017) found co-authored piece increased from roughly one quarter of published articles in 1990 to over one half in 2016.

Despite its advantages, co-writing comes with its own set of challenges; in addition to dividing the mental load and time-intensive tasks involved in writing for academic purposes, the question of authorship can be intimidating to navigate. However, there are established conventions in the field of linguistics on standard practice for co-authored pieces. While these practices may vary depending on the particularities of the project or piece, knowing and implementing these guides can provide clarity on how to ethically and appropriately determine co-authorship questions. 

Here are a few different resources you may find helpful as you engage in collaborative academic writing: 

AAAL Ethics Guidelines. AAAL's ethics guidelines offer insight into ethically navigating major aspects of academic life, including research, teaching and service. The 'Research' sub-section addresses different issues that can arise in collaborative writing.

Whose Name Goes First? In this 2017 Chronicle of Higher Education piece, three colleagues humorously share how they settled disagreements about authorship on their collaborative work in a way that maintained their collegial relationships.

Academic Authorship—Order & Rules. This brief post from Enago Academy offers straight-forward advice for how to deal with authorship order, avoiding problems, and general guidelines for co-authoring pieces.

What resources do you draw upon in your co-writing with colleagues? Share them with us at or post in the comments below.

This blog post was written by Jackie Ridley, a member of the AAAL Graduate Student Council Social Media Sub-Committee. Jackie can be reached at

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