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Certified Random: A New Order for Coauthorship


  • Debraj Ray
  • Arthur Robson


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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:2:p:489-520
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20161492

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Liran Einav & Leeat Yariv, 2006. "What's in a Surname? The Effects of Surname Initials on Academic Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 175-187, Winter.
    2. Matthias Weber, 2016. "The Effects of Listing Authors in Alphabetical Order: A survey of the Empirical Evidence," Bank of Lithuania Occasional Paper Series 12, Bank of Lithuania.
    3. Farrell Joseph, 1993. "Meaning and Credibility in Cheap-Talk Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 514-531, October.
    4. Daniel Feenberg & Ina Ganguli & Patrick Gaulé & Jonathan Gruber, 2017. "It’s Good to Be First: Order Bias in Reading and Citing NBER Working Papers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(1), pages 32-39, March.
    5. Heiko Jacobs & Alexander Hillert, 2016. "Alphabetic Bias, Investor Recognition, and Trading Behavior," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(2), pages 693-723.
    6. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-1668, December.
    7. Jennifer Itzkowitz & Jesse Itzkowitz & Scott Rothbort, 2016. "ABCs of Trading: Behavioral Biases affect Stock Turnover and Value," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(2), pages 663-692.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gaudeul, Alexia & Crosetto, Paolo, 2019. "Fast then slow: A choice process explanation for the attraction effect," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 386, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. Wohlrabe, Klaus & Bornmann, Lutz, 2019. "Alphabetized co-authorship in economics reconsidered," MPRA Paper 93836, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ong, David & Chan, Ho Fai & Torgler, Benno & Yang, Yu (Alan), 2018. "Collaboration incentives: Endogenous selection into single and coauthorships by surname initial in economics and management," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 41-57.
    4. Debraj Ray & Rajiv Vohra, 2018. "Games of Love and Hate," Working Papers 2018-8, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Gaudeul, Alexia & Crosetto, Paolo, 2019. "Fast then slow: A choice process explanation for the attraction effect," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 386, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    6. Nicolas Vallois & Dorian Jullien, 2017. "Replication in Experimental Economics: A Historical and Quantitative Approach Focused on Public Good Game Experiments," GREDEG Working Papers 2017-21, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    7. Garance Genicot ⓡ & Laurent Bouton ⓡ & Micael Castanheira ⓡ, 2018. "Electoral Systems and Inequalities in Government Interventions," NBER Working Papers 25205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Lou, Youcheng & Parsa, Sahar & Ray, Debraj & Li, Duan & Wang, Shouyang, 2019. "Information aggregation in a financial market with general signal structure," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 594-624.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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