Deciding authorship orderBMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7182 (Published 16 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7182
All rapid responses
The authors appear to state a clear preference for the "bagsy" system over the "shotgun" system. However, it should not be forgotten that the shotgun system has a robust set of rules that have been extensively tested and widely validated for selecting the front seat passenger of a motor vehicle(1). However, it is almost universally accepted that the motor vehicle needs to be in direct line of sight of the caller in order for "the shotgun" to be valid. Does this mean the completed article needs to be in view for a "shotgun" to ensure first authorship and usurp the preceding "bagsy" attempts?
I also wonder where the authors stand on the extended form of the "bagsy"? There are many variations of the extended form, each of which sets out to exert its dominance over those before. In this junior doctor's primary school playground experience, the "extended bagsy" added a new dimension to the "simple bagsy" and often lead to controversy and heated debate of the "near-ubiquitous set of rules". The "extended bagsy" certainly did not achieve "universal peer acceptance" as it was too susceptible to cultural variation and the potential for further invention and elaboration. In my personal opinion "bagsy mine, turn around touch the ground, touch white do what you like" was quite simply king of the bagsies quashing all those who went before.
Given the potential weaknesses of the "bagsy" system, perhaps other methods originating from the school playground with its "highly conserved social environment with an innate sense of fairness" hold the answer? It would be interesting to investigate how rock, paper scissors(2) or "forty forty"(3) compare in a direct comparison with "bagsy" for providing a robust and fair method for determining the order of authorship (bagsy first author!)
Duncan Birse, Foundation Year 2 Doctor
1. The Official Shotgun Rules. Introduction to Shotgun. http://www.shotgunrules.com/index.shtml
2. Wikipedia. Rock-paper-scissors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock-paper-scissors
3. Wikipaedia. Forty forty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forty_forty
Competing interests: No competing interests