# Is having a surname which begins with the letter “A” a big advantage for a researcher in astronomy/astrophysics? Is changing our surname a good idea?

Is having a surname which begins with the letter “A” a big advantage for a researcher in astronomy/astrophysics?

If I have a surname which begins with the letter “M”, and I haven’t published any paper yet, would changing my surname to a name which begins with the letter “A” be a good idea? Or would the advantage gained be too small to make it worth the effort?

Approximately what percentages of research papers in astronomy/astrophysics order their authors …

• purely alphabetically?
• half by contribution and half alphabetically?
• purely by contribution?
• If it really matters that much to you, you should change your surname to a native South African name, and give it a ! (click sound) in the beginning. Nov 22 '16 at 23:11
• Check out the statistics about paper publishing, academics seem to be obsessed by that internal administrative stuff. Even if you change your name and discover the Aart cloud, you bet some Dr. Nul will come along and outsmart you even at that. (A bit ahead of Dr. Backspace, and I bet that Drs. Bell and Enquiry are already for real) Nov 23 '16 at 0:01
• This question is not specific to astronomy. Voting to close as off-topic.
– user1569
Nov 23 '16 at 7:43
• I'm upvoting only in the hopes this turns into an article in Annals of Improbable Research. Nov 23 '16 at 13:04

EDIT: As a brief, empirical check on my answer, I looked at arXiv for 22nd November 2016. There were 66 new astrophysics papers listed. Of these, 29 were written by three or fewer authors. Only five were written by $>10$ authors and only one paper, from the Pierre Auger collaboration, appeared to have an alphabetised author list. Try hard not to laugh - the paper is by Aab, A. et al. Good luck in your efforts to beat that.