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AMOR: A Novel Approach to Randomize Author Order and Resolve Authorship Disputes

Core Concepts
AMOR is an innovative system that solves the long-standing author ordering problem (AOP) by randomly shuffling the author list at viewing time, allowing everyone to be a first author.
The content discusses the author ordering problem (AOP) in scientific publications, which has long been a source of conflict and violence among researchers. The authors present AMOR, a system that addresses this issue by randomly shuffling the author list at viewing time, eliminating the need for complex authorship schemes like co-first or co-middle authorship. The abstract outlines the problem, noting that the order of authors is often more important than the font size, leading to disputes and even violence. The authors propose AMOR as a solution, which randomly permutates the author list, allowing everyone to be a first author at some point. The introduction further elaborates on the AOP, describing the various schemes that have been developed to resolve authorship disputes, such as co-first, co-middle, and forced authorship. The authors argue that these approaches are inherently unfair, especially for researchers with names that put them at a disadvantage. The methods section explains the core of AMOR, which is to randomly permutate the author list in all possible ways and display the shuffled list at a certain frequency. This approach is said to resolve every authorship issue, including making authors appear or disappear completely or avoiding conflicts of interest. The limitations section acknowledges that AMOR requires specific PDF viewers, and legacy software from scientific publishers may take decades to adopt the system. The conclusion emphasizes that only publishers can hold back the adoption of AMOR and calls for financial support to fight for its implementation.

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by Maximilian W... at 04-02-2024

Deeper Inquiries

How can AMOR be implemented in a way that ensures the randomization is truly unbiased and fair to all authors?

To ensure that the randomization in AMOR is unbiased and fair to all authors, several key implementation strategies can be employed. Firstly, the random shuffling algorithm should be designed to generate permutations with equal probability for all authors. This can be achieved by using well-established randomization techniques and ensuring that the process is truly random without any biases towards specific authors. Additionally, implementing checks to prevent any manipulation or bias in the randomization process is crucial. Regularly auditing the system and ensuring transparency in the shuffling mechanism can help maintain fairness. Moreover, involving multiple stakeholders in the design and review of the randomization process can provide additional layers of scrutiny and help uphold fairness in author order assignment.

What are the potential ethical concerns or unintended consequences of a system that randomly shuffles author order, and how can they be addressed?

One of the primary ethical concerns of a system like AMOR, which randomly shuffles author order, is the potential impact on academic integrity and transparency. Randomizing author order could lead to confusion regarding individual contributions and accountability, which are essential in academic research. To address this, clear guidelines and documentation should be provided alongside publications to explain the randomization process and ensure transparency. Additionally, establishing a standardized protocol for disclosing author contributions and the randomization method can help mitigate ethical concerns. Another unintended consequence could be the devaluation of individual contributions and expertise, potentially affecting researchers' reputations. To address this, it is crucial to emphasize the collaborative nature of research and highlight the importance of all authors' contributions, regardless of their position in the author list.

How might AMOR impact the academic incentive structure and the way researchers are evaluated, and what are the broader implications for the scientific community?

AMOR could have significant implications for the academic incentive structure and the evaluation of researchers. By randomizing author order, the traditional hierarchy in authorship may be disrupted, challenging existing norms and practices in academic publishing. This could lead to a shift in how researchers are recognized and rewarded for their contributions, potentially moving towards a more egalitarian approach that values collaboration over individual authorship positions. However, this shift may also raise concerns about how researchers are evaluated for career advancement and funding opportunities, as the significance of author order in assessing contributions could be diminished. Broader implications for the scientific community include fostering a more inclusive and collaborative research environment, where all contributors are equally acknowledged and valued. It may also encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and reduce conflicts related to authorship disputes, ultimately promoting a more harmonious and equitable research culture.