What Is a Corresponding Author?
A corresponding author is typically one of several authors who worked on a paper or report that has been submitted to a journal or periodical for review and publication. This is often used in professional journals, especially those for prestigious fields such as psychology or medicine. When a group of researchers and authors work together on a paper, which is not uncommon in these fields, they usually choose one person among themselves to submit the paper to a journal or other publication. The corresponding author is the person chosen within the group to be responsible for all contact and correspondence with the periodical they are contacting.
Sometimes also called a “coauthor designee,” a corresponding author is not necessarily more important than any of the other authors of a paper, but simply assumes other responsibilities when dealing with publishing that paper. If only a single author worked on a particular project, then he or she is by default the corresponding author for any findings he or she wishes to publish. This title can be important for projects or papers that are the result of a great deal of work from multiple authors, who all wish to have their work reviewed and published.
When a group of individuals wishes to publish an article or paper together, then the members choose one among themselves to act as the corresponding author. In this case, “corresponding” indicates that the person is responsible for all correspondence or communication between the group of authors and the periodical. He or she is typically the one who submits the paper directly to the journal or magazine, providing the names of the other authors but often only providing his or her own contact information. Once this contact is established, then the corresponding author is the only person with whom the publication has any direct communication.
The use of a corresponding author prevents multiple authors from slowing down the review and publication process. Any questions or comments the publication may have regarding the submitted work can be directed to one author, who may then talk to the other authors and provide a single, authoritative response. The corresponding author is typically responsible for reviewing any drafts and changes sent by the publisher. This is why the choice of author to act as the voice of a group is important, because any errors or incorrect changes that go to print are the responsibility of this individual.
I know a lot of people who have started working in science at the graduate level or higher. As soon as you reach that point, trying to do research and publish it becomes a really big deal, and who gets to be co-author or corresponding author or first author on the list becomes a really big deal.
While the difference in each distinction might not sound very big to those of us who don't write for these academic journals, I imagine that once you have done a huge study or other body of work and now want it published, it is extremely important to you that you get the credit you feel you deserve.
I co-wrote a novel with a friend, and I served as corresponding author. We used a publishing company that gave us a lot of control, and I had to communicate with them.
I did things like describe what we wanted the cover to look like and in what font style we wished it to be printed. I also made changes to the document per their suggestions and resubmitted it for proofreading.
The company let us order as many books as we thought we could sell. They also posted the book online with several major bookstores. There wasn’t a whole lot of promotion involved, so we didn’t sell a bunch, but just having a book out there was a thrill for us. I really enjoyed taking charge as the corresponding author.
@zsazsa56 - I wish I had had your experience. I was in a similar situation in college but in a biology department. I performed a lot of the lab work for a professor of mine and even worked my way through some of the more difficult equations. I helped with the drafting of the paper and felt I was an integral part of getting the work done. But when it was finally published my professor was listed as the sole author and there was no mention of my work. That really got under my skin. I put a lot of effort into that project and nobody noticed at all.
I had a professor in college that I had a great relationship with. In my final semester we worked on a project together that looked at the poems and painting of William Blake.
At first I thought that I was just being enlisted to help with the research and to make comments of the text. But the professor allowed me to write sections of the text (which he then heavily edited) and took a lot of my suggestions seriously. In the end I ended up getting an author credit and can now say I've been published in a journal. As an undergraduate I felt pretty proud of myself
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