Alphabetical Tyranny

Alex Tabarrok points to a new study showing that, “Faculty members in top [economics] departments with surnames beginning with letters earlier in the alphabet are substantially more likely to be tenured, be fellows of the Econometrics Society, and even win Nobel prizes.” This is because, “In economics there is a norm that authors are listed alphabetically” and “Citation counts, however, are historically assigned only to the first listed author and later listed authors are often buried under the et al. monster.”

While I understand the politics of alphabetical listing of authors–avoiding hurt feelings ensuing by the “Who contributed more?” debate–it is not the norm in most disciplines. Indeed, it surprises me that economists of all people would be the ones following it.

Kevin Drum wonders, “Is the same true in the blogosphere, where blogrolls are often arranged alphabetically?” Quite probably, I would wager, since most blogrolls are long. Those sites showing above the fold certainly have an advantage.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.