Does it matter which co-author submits my co-authored paper to a journal?

I’ve wondered about this, so this week I posed the question to the twitterverse. Lots of people, including several journal editors, weighed in. (When I say editors, I include co-editors and associate editors.)

Here’s my take away: It doesn’t matter very much — and maybe not at all, depending on the editor. It’s certainly second (or third or fourth) order relative to the actual quality and relevance of your paper. But there may sometimes be a return to having the most well-known or senior author submit, so if it’s low-cost, then go for it.

Here are the details: I posed the question, “Do you believe it matters WHICH AUTHOR submits your co-authored paper to the journal?”

170 Twitter users weighed in, as follows:

Of course, we don’t know who those 170 voters are or how much weight we should put on their opinions. (No offense to all you fine voters; I appreciate and value you!)

A few editors weighed in directly. One wrote: “Offering my *personal* perspective on this as editor. When better known submits it signals (to editor) their commitment to the paper.” She then clarified, “To be clear, not saying there’s a lot of info. I’m being honest that I do take epsilon more notice when a recognizable name submits.”

Another editor wrote (and a couple of others “liked”), “I’d say, don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s in line with the first editor, who added, “Those mental cycles better spent on fine tuning the abstract, title and intro.”

Another editor wrote, “I don’t pay attention to which author submits. But now that I have the floor: I do remember super late or non-responsive referees.”

An academic weighed in, “For me, ‘lead’ author submits. When I lead, I submit. If my student leads the work, they should submit (this is how they learn).” This jives with what one of the editors wrote: “Ultimately, I think authors should take turns and let resources influence who submits. And I practice that.”

So there you go! I’ve left attributions off this post, but you can read the original discussion here.

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