Certified Random: A New Order for Coauthorship

Debraj Ray, Arthur Robson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    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 (i) distributes the gain from first authorship evenly over the alphabet; (ii) allows either author to signal when contributions are extremely unequal; (iii) will invade an environment where alphabetical order is dominant; (iv) is robust to deviations; (v) may be ex ante more efficient than alphabetical order; and (vi) is no more complex than the existing alphabetical system modified by occasional reversal of name order.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)489-520
    Number of pages32
    JournalAmerican Economic Review
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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