End the tyranny of alphabetism in social science?

Political science as a discipline lacks any convention on the order in which authors should be listed in co-authored publications. As a result, the order of author’s surnames currently provides no information to other scholars, hiring and promotion committees, and other reviewers about the relative contributions of each collaborator.

That is David Lake writing in PS. His suggestion: adopt the more informative standard of ordering by relative contribution.

The usual response: civil war between co-authors. He has several counterarguments, but this is by far my favorite:

other disciplines have succeeded in establishing professional norms that do deal with these sensitive interpersonal issues. While Political Scientists admittedly are not the most socially adept set of individuals on the planet, I cannot imagine that we are worse on average at negotiating interpersonal relationships than our physical science colleagues.

As someone whose last name begins with the letter B, I should point out the selflessness of blogging Lake’s proposition. I even agree him.

Or perhaps I’m not so selfless. A startling number of my coauthors come earlier in the alphabet, most conspicuously my wife. (That was pretty much the only reason I could come up with for her to change her name: I would come first. For some reason that didn’t seem to convince…)