An interesting ethical issue has arisen as a sub-topic in our discussion of co-first authorship. One of our commenters asserted that he encourages his co-first author trainees to list their name first on their CVs even if they are not actually listed first in the published paper:
There is one pub from my lab that has joint first authorship. We tried very hard to make it not so, and it was a topic of some heated discussion, but there was really no fair way around it. I tried to get J. Neuroscience to use a slash instead of a comma in order to make clear the joint first-authorship (as in 'Author A/Author B, Author C...'), but the reply was: "I think the "contributed equally" statement will have to suffice. It not journal style to add a slash between names. I will, however, check into it further and let you know whether we can make an exception, but as of now I would venture to say no." It never went anywhere after that. The paper is shown on my web page with the slash, however, and I have encouraged the authors to use the slash on their CVs and reverse the name order whenever they wished.
My response to this wackaloonery was as follows:
Please tell me you are just trolling with this shit, because this is horrifyingly bad advice. You are encouraging your trainees to falsify their CVs.
If I noticed on a CV that a second co-first author had reversed the order of the the names and listed hers first, I would take a very, very dim view of that person's probity. And if it were a job applicant, their application would be dismissed with extreme prejudice.
There is more detailed back-and-forth argumentation on this issue over there.
Dear readers, please tell us what you think about this.