I’m an undergraduate who recently was involved in writing a paper where I did most, if not all, of the work writing the manuscript. The PhD student basically “dumped” his project into my lap after a year of sitting on the results, and asked me to write it. I wasn’t really involved in the project, except for a few small things in the beginning.

I’m currently listed as third author on the paper; the second author is completely out of the picture, and has not contributed at all to the paper (the PhD student has at least provided some edits). Should I argue that because I wrote the paper, despite not doing all of the research that the second author did, that I should be listed as second author?

As the deadline grew nearer, I found myself picking up more and more of the responsibility of the paper. I was initially happy to be third author, but when I found myself writing the entire paper, I think that my contributions are a lot greater than I had initially anticipated.

However, I’ve never been involved in writing a paper before, so I don’t know what the etiquette is for these types of scenarios. Should the second author be listed on the paper at all, or should we swap places in authorship? I don’t think that the second author will even read the paper before it’s published anyways. Should I talk to the PhD student that I think I should get more recognition for the work I’ve done on this paper, because I feel like I honestly should be first author considering that if I didn’t write this paper, it never would have been written, or should I just be happy where I am?

I’m not really sure what to do! Any advice would be immensely helpful.

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