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Richard C • 6 years ago

I agree with all this until I get to the idea of a formal agreement. I simply find it hard to imagine using one with my own collaborators, who are usually personal friends and/or students. It implies distrust, which is the opposite of the intention. It may make more sense with a large international collaboration, but such collaborations, in my experience, already have agreements that include data access and publication rights.

Richard Primack • 6 years ago

Dear Richard C,
Thanks for your comment. I agree that having a formal agreement is probably not necessary for collaborations among researchers who know each other well, such as friends, students and teachers. Such agreements are really best suited for larger collaborations where the people do not know each other well, and may even be from different disciplines or different countries. In this case, the agreements describe ground rules that everyone can accept at the beginning so there is less chance for misunderstandings later.

Richard Primack

Guest • 3 years ago

I think that the agreement is even more important when you work with friends...

Amanda G • 6 years ago

As a graduate student I feel fortunate to have worked, so far, with very functional groups of co-authors. However, I have witnessed examples and heard stories of conflicts between co-authors, and it often seems as though at least one party is surprised by the problems that arise. So I agree with the authors that it is worth taking steps to prevent future conflict, even if it doesn't seem likely.

I imagine many established authors will be resistant to using a formal agreement for the same reasons Richard C gave. It would be great to hear from you all here in the comments about whether you use a formal agreement, other methods of avoiding conflict (whether proactive or dealing with issues as they arise), and what you have found success doing- even if your technique is just to be honest and communicative!

So, authors:
1) What are your tips for avoiding conflict between co-authors?
2) What do you do when conflicts arise with co-authors?

Thanks in advance for the tips-- I imagine I'm not the only young scientist who will find your comments helpful!

Lian Pin Koh • 6 years ago

Hi Amanda, from my experience, I find it useful to list all co-authors from the early drafts of the manuscript, with the clarification that the order of authorship might change according to contributions later on. That way, if there are any disagreements about authorship, they can be sorted out as the manuscript develops, rather than leaving this issue to the the last few days before submission to a journal, or even worse still after the manuscript has already been submitted!

Ines Ibanez • 6 years ago

The most common hurdle I’ve encountered when coauthoring
manuscripts with a large number of people is getting timely feedback from all
of the coauthors. The approach that seems to work for dealing with this issue
is to be a little bit proactive and set very specific deadlines and expectations.
For example, I usually write something along these lines “Find attached the
last draft of the manuscript. Please let me know if you are interested in being
a coauthor. I will compile and incorporate all your feedback and comments in
two weeks. If I haven’t heard from you by then I’ll assume you prefer not to be

Richard Primack • 6 years ago


Thanks for this suggestion. It is worth considering as a way of motivating people to respond in a timely manner. However, it seems to be an indirect way for indicating whether someone will or will not be a co-author. Discussions of who should be co-author are often the most important and delicate issues when forming a large research team across institutions and countries.

Richard Primack

Terry • 6 years ago

I absolutely agree with this approach, and have used it with success. I think it is also important to remind potential co-authors of the definition of an author. So when I send out a final manuscript for comments, I will 1) provide a deadline for providing comments, 2) request that whether or not they provide comments, anyone who is interested in being a co-author must send me an e-mail to express their interest, and 3) each co-author must confirm that they believe they have made a substantial contribution to the manuscript/study (design, concepts, etc.).

Mark • 6 years ago

A related issue is Authorship Etiquette. I am constantly suprised by finding people who seem unaware of the norms of what justifes Authorship of a paper as distinct from Acknowledgement. I have come across lead authors who submit papers to journals without asking or waiting for co-authors approval. When asked why they think it will take too long to wait. But the to and fro of debating points of a paper is part of the research process so it can take time for co-authors to explain different viewpoints and reach concensus. Depending on personalities and the issues involved, it is normal that co-authors may be very differently involved in making changes to a paper. The end result should be a better paper (hopefully not a falling out) or some may feel they would prefer not to be co-authors.

Then there are the co-authors who agree to be co-authors in a wave of enthusiam at a workshop or other meeting, but then provide little and sometimes no input to the paper. It is very hard to quantify input. One key insightful comment and change to a paragraph or interpretation of data may justify authorship. One solution is to state from the onset that you await co-authors inputs and approvals and if they lack time to input then that is ok and they would just be acknowledged (if appropriate). Ines suggestion below of mutually agreed timelines is a good one and it works. I have withdrawn from papers where I could not deliver in the timeframe. Yes, a lack of response means a person cannot be a co-author. A formal 'agreement' may seem peculiar but it could also be informal - for example an email could outline each persons role and expected timeframe with understanding that things can change - data analyses may not produce expected results, people may not be able to participate as they hoped due to other commitments or matters otuside their control, etc..

Damn Good • 6 years ago

This is sort of a different angle, that is not so much the influence of co-authors on the paper, as much as the bastardization of co-authorship in general.

In many labs, when a paper is going to a big journal, they toss everyone's name on the byline, so long as they breathed air somewhere in the vicinity. I have always been pretty generous with co-authorship, but everyone who has ever been a co-author did in fact participate in a substantive manner. I cannot imagine how each person on a long ticker tape of names tacked on could possibly have contributed to many manuscripts. I guess this might partly explain why after making tenure so many tenured biologists (at least 37% at regional state universities) have not published even a note in the past 5-6 years. They had their CV primed by their lab, and did not have to work as hard to get the pubs. This kind of behavior, intended to assist young scientists, actually leads to them being indistinguishable form those of us who plan, conduct and write up research at a much more proficient rate, but did not come from such labs.

Then, we have the 50 Billion scientists on the author line of manuscripts submitted to Science/Nature. The papers often have no data, and amount to little more than a declaration of something everyone has already accepted and so it is neither novel, surprising, or even important to say so at this point. Yet because their is virtually no one left to peer review the manuscript, Science/Nature accept them and publish these things. Of course, anyone who looks at it critcally can see that they are calculating the citations/author influence on their impact rating.

I guess what I am saying is that if a lead author feels someone deserves to be a co-author, that is his/her business. However, at some point it is time to draw the line.

John • 6 years ago

Conflict can arise when there is a short timeframe for input from co-authors. This seems to be particularly problematic when the lead author is an inexperienced early career scientist or postgrad student where the "need" to publish is also matched by a need for guidance and revision, but the process is rushed. A draft manuscript may be sent to all co-authors for comments, but in the mind of the lead author this is really just a courtesy, whereas co-authors see a very real need for improvements, but an unreasonably short period for comments was given. Consequently, co-authors are either excluded from the process (as appears to be the intent) or the diligent ones respect the deadline and the need for revisions and work hard, albeit frustratedly, to provide detailed comments within the timeframe. The lead author feels aggrieved that his/her "baby" is being "criticised", and because the rush to publish does not diminish, the next draft of the manuscript does not incorporate many of the suggested revisions and the co-authors that spent the time to provide comments wonder why they bothered, but the lead author may have felt that, contrary to his/her expectations, an unmanageably large amount of feedback had been provided. So, the process became painful for all concerned and the co-authors do not feel inclined to work with lead author again. I don't necessarily blame the relativlely inexperienced yet ambituous lead author, but I do blame his/her supervisor for not giving good guidance and not setting reasonable expectations for the process. If you become someone with whom others do not want to work then this is not a great career advancement. It is amazing how far a little bit of courtesy and a soft touch can go: if someone bothered to provide comments, then you should bother to let him/her know why these were not included and you should do it nicely. The need to publish is something that is heavily emphasised by supervisors but I don't think much guidance is given about successful professional conduct with your co-authors, and in fact the driven, short deadline-giving approach may seem like a way of promoting your professional credentials, but in reality this might achieve the opposite. Supervisors should pay more attention to how their protégés are presenting themselves throughout the collaborative process.

Judith S. Weis • 6 years ago

The problem I've had is when people agree to participate and then don't contribute in a timely fashion. They claim they are "too busy" at the moment to do it. I think they mean well but cause a lot of delay of the whole endeavor. The only solution is to wait (impatiently) and nag them now and then until they finally do their part. But it's not fun!

RodneyRohde • 6 years ago

I applaud the authors tackling this important and often difficult topic. I have a number of "stories" and examples in this area. One in particular stands out. In a collaborative effort I was leading in regards to proposing the project, lead expertise/author, and grant support between multiple authors and three programs, an "ambitious" new colleague began to work on a draft of our work. Prior to asking for input or permission from myself or the others, the ambitious coauthor submitted a manuscript to a leading journal. Not only did that occur, but the manuscript was in a state of "embarrassing" grammar and format. It was this persons first actual submission even though she had been a coauthor before. I was furious, embarrassed that my name was on such a poorly prepared manuscript, and frustrated that someone would ever do such a thing. I resolved the situation by confronting the person and explaining to them coauthor etiquette and the proper way to proceed with work.

Once that was explained and put in a written format, everything was fine. So what?? Well, a couple of points. First, I had published many times with no problems from authors around the country and world. The ambitious coauthor I mention was involved, had the credentials and appeared to be an ethical individual. I was truly blindsided. I had never imagined that this "could happen to me" since I was always very careful and a good judge of people. IT CAN HAPPEN to the most seasoned researcher, etc. Second, the most important thing I did when it occurred was to confront the person AND contact the journal editor about the situation. The manuscript was halted and retracted before it could get moving. I was lucky in regards to my professional reputation. The manuscript was in sad shape but it never made it out to reviewers, etc...I'm not sure how that might have affected my reputation as an author but I'm thankful to the editor who immediately could tell the manuscript was in poor quality and agreed to halt it's movement. In the end, I would encourage even the most experienced researcher/author to proceed with a plan on collaborative writing projects (or grants, etc.). Whether it's a formal or informal written agreement, it may save you much headache on the back side. Of course, use your judgment if you are working with proven colleagues and you are comfortable. The take home point from these authors is taken well - always be prepared with coauthors by setting limits, contributions, timelines, and a "back out plan" if necessary.

Lisa L. • 6 years ago

This is a very useful post. I'm in the middle of Example 2. My co-author has stalled publication on a manuscript for more than a year because 'the results don't agree with the hypotheses set out in the grant proposal to fund the project'. I actually like the fact that the hypothesis was not supported!! I've revised the manuscript three times, and each time he/she has re-written it based on how they feel the outcome should look. Advice, suggestions?

Also, you missed Example 6: post-doc does work but the advisor/ professor appropriates works as their own, and publishes it on their own.

Richard Primack • 6 years ago


In your first point, you discuss the general situation where co-authors differ on the interpretation of the results or the conclusion. At some point, the two co-authors need to resolve their differences, and either compromise or one co-author has to yield to the other. In such situations, a phone conversation or a face-to-face meeting might be a useful way to establish a workable solution.

Bee Pin • 3 years ago

Hi, I am the Degree fresh graduate. My supervisors are now trying to publish the journal that I prepared for my thesis. I can say that I am the person who did the experiment, data analysis and also journal writing while my supervisors are responsible to amend my journal as well as providing ideas during the experiment was being carried out. When the journal reaches publication stage, I was not being informed that i would be put as third author. When the time i asked one of my supervisors, I was told that I cannot be the first author due to the fact that my university uses their grant to provide financial support to my research, so that the first author must be the member of the grant of my university. I am very curious if this is really the case? I just feel that i am not being respected.

Richard Primack • 3 years ago

Dear Bee Pin,
The first author should be the one who was most responsible for the work. From what you have described, you should be the first author. It is not important whether or not someone is listed as a member of the grant proposal.

I think you should present your case to the chairman of the department, and ask for his/her opinion. That said, you also don't want me make your professors angry, so you have to be diplomatic in how you present your case.

Also, if the paper has been published already, it is probably too late to change things. In that case, just be glad that the paper has been published.

Good luck.


Jane E. Rosen, Ph.D. • 2 years ago

Dear Richard Primack and Bee Pin,
Universities must take responsibility for authorship conflicts because graduate students and postdocs depend on authorship to boost their CV in order to be competitive for positions after the completion of a postdoc or a Ph.D. degree. Mentors or the PI of a lab must protect the right of the postdoc or student to authorship credit for their work. Example: I worked on and successfully completed my Ph.D. at NYU in NYC in the field of biochemistry. I was asked by my thesis advisor to write up my dissertation for publication in a reputable journal that we both agreed upon. I named my thesis advisor as is custom, as my co-author. I sent him the final version of the manuscript for editorial comment. Instead of commenting and sending the manuscript back to me for discussion and possible further revision, he submitted the manuscript with his editorial changes to the journal, without my knowledge. Not only did he submit my manuscript without my knowledge, but he also removed my name from the byline and removed reference to my copyrighted dissertation from the bibliography. Essentially my Ph.D. advisor took full authorship credit for my entire dissertation in having submitted my manuscript for publication without my knowledge or consent. Both NYU and the thesis advisor refused to restitute me by working with the journal to retract and republish the paper under my name or by creating an on line correction with explanation. No effort was made by the university or the advisor to correct an egregious wrong. As a result of their lack of integrity no effort was made to right a wrong. I was harmed because I was unable to use the published manuscript in my CV when searching for employment. ....and no one cared. The Office of Research Integrity created a ruling in this case......they stated that unless a graduate student could prove that ALL of the ideas within their dissertation were solely their own.....they were not entitled to authorship credit of their work.....even if they executed every experiment described in their dissertation. Of course unless a graduate student walks around all day with a video crew and tape recorder....documenting all communication with the thesis advisor .....it is impossible to prove the origin of every idea within the dissertation. So in effect the ORI has declared that if any Thesis Advisor wishes to take full authorship credit for the dissertation of their own student and they can do so without fear of any consequence to the act. This is a ruling that should not be permitted to stand....yet to date no one had challenged it apart from myself. Graduate students need to wake up .....and insist that their graduate programs define their authorship rights in writing before they commence a degree program. If the dept refuses to set a standard then the student must create a private agreement in writing with their advisor.....otherwise there will be no protection from the unadulterated theft of one's original research. The newly formed graduate student unions at Yale, Columbia and NYU are not interested in creating an agreement with the universities that will protect the IP rights of a student.....to either being named on a patent or to being granted authorship credit for their unique and individual works. We as tax payers pay an enormous amount of money to train scientists in this country. The NIH doles out about 34 billion a year in grants.....so we must protect our brain trust and allow them to prosper. If we allow for the theft of their work without consequence we destroy the return on our investment. If a scientist cannot take authorship credit for their work their careers will die on the vine and our investment in their training goes down the drain. It is time to wake up!

Geepee47 • 6 years ago

My example was the second worse nightmare of my life. I'll leave it at that.

Anna Sher • 6 years ago

This article brings up many good points. I have been fortunate not to have encountered any of the above scenarios, but like some of the folks below, have had situations with unresponsive co-authors (and have been guilty of this myself). I agree that issues of co-authorship should be discussed beforehand, including deadlines for responses. Professors like myself are often juggling way too many balls and it can be easy for a paper to get lost- setting expectations and reminder schedules beforehand is a great way to deal with it, in my experience on both ends. Another experience I've had is when the lead author makes judgements about who should be included as an author (rather than just in acknowledgements) that I don't agree with, turning a X and Y into X et al. Given that author order in Ecology is going through a transition, this can be a big deal. But the bottom line of the article above, which applies to all of these is that communication up front is key.

MeL • 6 years ago

Thanks for this post. I graduated recently and the information here is very useful. I finished my MSc last August, and by Nov I had my first draft. I've been waiting inputs from my supervisor since, with no success. I have sent over a dozen emails, with only one reply in April saying he would read it ASAP.
The data used for my project was collected by myself and a group of volunteers, when I worked for an NGO. The data belongs to a private company, and the company and the rest of the NGO workers all agreed not to be co-authors, but just to be acknowledged. So, it is only me as first author and my supervisor.
How can I make him submit comments? I am not sure he is unhappy with the work as a whole or just too busy to care, It's been a long time and I don't know how to proceed.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Richard Primack • 6 years ago

You might try asking another professor in your department to ask on your behalf. This might be a member of your committee or another professor who you were friendly with.
Richard Primack

MeL • 6 years ago

Thank you Richard

Waters • 6 years ago

Great post. Although not everyone may have had trouble with co-authors in the past, it's an unfortunate inevitability for researchers.

In my work, I've had trouble with co-authors, for one reason or another, taking an unreasonable amount of time to provide feedback before submission. To prevent this from significantly delaying manuscript submission, I've given feedback/submission deadlines - the manuscript will be submitted on this date regardless of whether or not I have their feedback. This often works, but the deadline set should be reasonable given the manuscript's length and complexity.

leskaufman • 6 years ago

Usually I have had excellent interactions with my coauthors, because I've chosen them carefully. But not invariably. The extraordinarily few truly loony or deeply evil colleagues that I've had to deal with have either not been coauthors- probably by mutual assent- or else turned to the dark side long after we'd done most of our work together. There is one problem that I have encountered fairly regularly, however, and that is when a colleague whose role in the completion of a paper is crucial, simply disappears off the face of the planet for a while...sometimes a very long while. Of course at first my initial concern is for their welfare, but they've all turned up as alive and well though spaced, disinterested, or distracted by real life. This is well and good except that a few projects that I'd put great effort into have failed to see the light of day for this reason. On the whole, however, I've found our colleagues to have been an almost unanimously fine bunch of people to work with.

Libby • 6 years ago

A written agreement among coauthors could certainly make communication easier and help set goals. Perhaps publishers or specific journals could supply examples of agreements in their Author Guideline materials. This would increase accessibility to agreements and could address issues that differ among journals, e.g. data sharing, open access materials, coauthor responsibilities, or handling requests from outside media.

David Schneider • 6 years ago

Dear Richard,

My experience with co-authors has been positive since 1978, with one incorrigible example. This was a federal scientist who expected to appear as co-author on all manuscripts where he was a grad student committee member by virtue of holding a collection permit and leading the field logistics. His intellectual contribution ranged from zero to negative, with a tendency to talk grad students into dull projects, requiring lots of work, and high risk of failure. Promotion and pay at his agency depended on publication. He reneged on written statements of contribution. And so prior agreement was a waste of time. Resolving conflicts between this person and my grad students was an unhappy chapter in my professional life.

My 2nd example is a provincial scientist who announced to one of my grad students that he (the provincial scientist who had provided 70K in field suppport) would appear as co-author on all manuscripts by the student. The provincial scientists had a strong understanding of the biology of the population (caribou) and so I advised my student to arrange regular meetings to discuss caribou biology, which resulted in creative and substantial contribution to the research project. The result were several publications on caribou, including one in Ecology. All involved were happy.

My 3rd example is a 15 person collaboration by a former MSc student, now a post-doc with me after a PhD elsewhere. He established an initial group of collaborators, which has grown. As the project grew he worked with an email list. As the project began to develop into proto-manuscripts, he asked all to state their contribution to date, and their expected future contribution. I thought the form he developed, and the way he presented it, after developing an informal collaborative group, was a good solution to the problem of moving from informal to formal (published) collaboration. I will send details to you via email.

Best wishes,

David Schneider

It appears example 2 may violate the joint work doctrine (under U.S. legal treatment), which I believe was constructed to deflect authorship status from those who only contributed ideas.

It'd probably be helpful to read "How does my work become our work? Dilution of authorship in scientific papers and the need for the academy to obey copyright law" by Sean B. Seymore; and, it may be helpful (or more confusing) to read "Defining Author for the Purpose of Copyright" by Russ VerSteeg.

And finally just on a pure why do we go to school anyway basis: students (whether grad or under grad) are there to be evaluated for their work and ideas... not the work and ideas of someone else. How is agreed authorship any different than say, asking someone to do my homework for me then copying and putting my name on it with either substantial or not variation.

Richard Primack • 4 years ago

Dear Colleague,

Thanks for your comment.

Increasingly projects in science are collaborative, resulting in multi-authored publications. In example 2, the provincial scientist had a strong knowledge of the research system and made significant contributions to project. As a result, it was appropriate for this scientist to be a co-author. An important point is that the major professor and the doctoral student accepted the idea that the provincial scientist would be a co-author. If the student did the majority of the work and the contributions of each member of the group are clearly stated, then this paper could reasonably be submitted as a chapter in the student's dissertation.

Richard Primack

Pradeep Mehta • 6 years ago

I would like to share an incidence where a PhD student wrote a paper and mentioned his guide and Head of the Department as Co-author. The paper was published in an International Journal by this time the Co-author became the Vice Chancellor of the University. The paper written by the student was a fraud as it was not original it was almost copy paste of an international paper. The original author came to know about this and he sent a letter to the Head of the Department but then there was a new Head. When she received the letter she called the media and made it public that the Vice Chancellor and former Head published a fraud paper and as a result the Vice Chancellor had to step back and resign.

Anonymous Undergrad • 6 years ago

I agree with Example 5 about the challenges of collaboration between undergrads, grad students, post-docs and professors. There is a power imbalance that can be hard to navigate, especially for less experienced researchers. As an undergrad, I've struggled collaborating with researchers more advanced than myself, especially as I've sought to both maintain creative control over my research project and receive the help and guidance I need to actually do the research. When projects are interdisciplinary and the collaborating researchers do not know each other or operate in the same realms of thinking, the individual coordinating the collaboration (myself, the undergrad in this case) has the challenge of balancing competing interests and demands. It is hard to know who to say yes and no to when everyone else is more experienced and powerful than you.

dave schimel • 5 years ago

ack. I can't believe the mis-spelling "principle investigator" is found in this article and passed review and editing. A principle investigator is someone who investigates principles. Perhaps they are a philosopher. Projects and grants are led by a Principal Investigator.

Alison Bert • 5 years ago

Hi Dave,
I'm the editor of Elsevier Connect, and it was my oversight. Thank you for pointing this out so I can fix it.

Yu-teh Kirk Lin • 5 years ago

Even the affiliations of co-authors should be part of the agreement, particularly in some international collaboration. See this story back in 2011. http://news.sciencemag.org/...

Shiv • 5 years ago

I with my senior wrote two papers being co-authors in each others. Now i wanted to get my paper published but the co-author is creating problem and asked me not to submit the it because he has some issue. He made very little contribution in my paper and has no proof of it. Please tell me what to do? I am naive to all this. please help me out.

Richard Primack • 5 years ago

In such situations where there is a disagreement between co-authors, a good strategy is to ask someone in authority to arbitrate the dispute. This might be the Chair of your department or a Dean.

Good luck. Richard Primack

Shiv • 5 years ago

Thanks Richard. I hope it will work

ALBEN SIGAMANI • 4 years ago

What if you have worked hard for a project and been part of the study from inception right to the last moment before publication, but changed your affiliation and moved to another organization. Do you forfeit the right to be a co - author.

Richard Primack • 4 years ago


Your right to be a co-author does not change if you move to another organization. Your right to be a co-author is established by your working on a project. It might be a good idea for you to talk with the leader of the project and say that even though you are moving to another organization, you would like to be involving in preparing the work for publication and you would like to be a co-author of the resulting publication. Good luck.

Christine Stone • 3 years ago

I submitted a question very similar to Alben, although I am not sure it was approved... so in the meantime, I will post here as well. I moved to a different company and just happened to find out that I was removed as a co-author altogether without my knowledge, when I contributed arguably more than any other co-author to the project. Is speaking with the journal that published the paper ever an option? I would assume they would have inquired why I had been removed as a co-author following submission and review of the manuscript.

Richard Primack • 3 years ago

Christine, I replied below to your query.


Jane E. Rosen, Ph.D. • 2 years ago

A word of advice. Mail a certified letter to the other author. State and/or list your contributions to the project and state that you expect to be named co-author or first author ....or whatever was orally agreed to before you moved on to another institution. Ask the other author who is submitting the paper for peer reviewed publication to email you or mail you the title of the paper, the authorship sequence along with the name of the journal to which the paper is being submitted. Ask for a time line on their intent for submission and request a copy of the manuscript for you to review and comment on prior to submission.....and ask for the title name, authorship sequence and name of journal within 10 days of receipt of your letter. The absence of a reply to your certified letter request will reflect bad faith on the part of the author. At the moment you believe there is a lack of good faith (if you receive no response to your simple request) I would approach your Chairman, Dean and/or Compliance officer at the institution where the work was done....especially if it was supported by an NIH Grant. This may be a case for the ORI if your institution does not act to resolve.

Richard Primack • 2 years ago

This is good advice, but only if there has been a complete breakdown of communication with your co-authors.
In your earlier posts you described how your advisor published your work without giving you credit. Were you ever able to resolve this and get credit for your research?


Desperate PhD Student • 4 years ago


What happens if as a PhD student, you have worked on a whole project with important results all on your own, then your supervisor takes over all your results, give them to another PhD student or PostDoc in order to publish these results with them because of personal issues with you? What are our rights in terms of intellectual property as a PhD student and how can we prevent our discoveries/results from being stolen by our own supervisor and from being published? Thanks for your advice.

Jane E. Rosen, Ph.D. • 3 years ago

Dear Desperate Ph.D. Student, your situation mirrors mine exactly. I completed my Ph.D. successfully at NYU and received my degree. Soon after my thesis advisor asked me to write up my dissertation for publication in JBC. I did as I was asked. I placed myself as first author and named my thesis advisor, Dr. C as my gratuitous co-author as is customary. Soon thereafter I learned that Dr. C had submitted my paper to JBC and it was published....except that he removed my name from the byline and all reference to my dissertation from the bibliography. I owned the copyright and I later learned that Dr. C had fraudulently transferred copyright permission to JBC. JBC had received a duplicate copy of my paper from me during the same week that Dr. C submitted the paper without my name. JBC had in front of them two duplicate studies from the same laboratory with different authors ....but failed to notify ....and published Dr. C's and rejected mine. To date they refuse to investigate, refuse to retract with explanation and refuse to discuss any possibility of an investigation into the wholesale theft of my entire dissertation. General Legal Counsel at NYU, the deans, my dept. Chair and those that sat on my thesis committee refused to intervene. The Office of Research Integrity ruled that no Ph.D. graduate is entitled to credit for their original work in a peer reviewed publication unless they can prove that ALL the ideas of their dissertation were solely their own. Of course impossible to prove. NYU is claiming that all Ph.D. students are employees and therefore all IP is created under a work for hire doctrine. Total BS. Remedy? One needs a lot of money to sue the university, the journal, the thesis advisor and the ORI for collaborating in the protection of the theft of my work. The ONLY protection one might have is to create a written agreement in advance of completion of the degree as to your right to first authorship credit on any peer reviewed publications....and that this agreement should also be submitted to the General Legal Counsel at the University along with a submission to your Dept. Chair.....placing them all on the hook to knowing of the agreement and possibly enforcing it if the Thesis advisor decides to betray it. Graduate students are not employees and their research is not a a work for hire that grants the university and/or the thesis advisor ownership rights to copyright and/or to the patent or IP. Oh yes ...and copyright your work because the Work for Hire doctrine cannot hold up under the law once you own the copyright. Hope this was helpful.

Chris Parsons • 3 years ago

If your PhD was archived in the library the deposit date should pre-date the submission of the copied article. Do you have your original manuscript date stamped, and any emails with manuscript attached saved? (save ALL your emails). Normally the journal editor in chief should act. The editors for company (e.g Springer, Wiley etc) publishing the article might act too as this could impinge on the reputation of their journals. You do need to have a paper trail for who wrote the article first and the original article

Jane E. Rosen, Ph.D. • 3 years ago

The paper trail was supplied to the ORI and to NYU but was totally ignored. They ruled that a mentor has the right to take full credit in the form of authorship of a dissertation as long as the student cannot prove that every idea within the dissertation was their own idea. Impossible to prove. The ORI supports dissertation theft and they do not consider it a form of misconduct. Graduate students must beware of this dangerous precedent setting case and decision!

Marcus K • 4 years ago

Although 2 years old now, I believe this article will remain relevant for quite some time, if not forever...
In my personal experience, I've only had a related issue recently. To make it worse, the one delaying the submission process (be it for lack of time to look at it, be it for not being confident with the results, ..., remains unclear) is the Project Leader. E-mails have been sent for everyone several times with the latest version, asking for final inputs prior to publication but remains stuck at his/her feedback that never comes. Journal submission aside, the remaining co-authors are also insecure to submit it to one of those preprint repositories without consent from the PL.
Any suggestions?
When the issue is with the PL, the "no response before XX days will be assumed as consent" is really an option?

Richard Primack • 4 years ago


You have described a difficult problem. My suggestion would be for one or more members of the group to make an appointment and then meet with the Project Leader and ask for consent and input. The Project Leader needs to understand that this is a priority, and if time is the problem, then their consent is sufficient. If the Project Leader seems to be unwilling to meet or give permission, then it might be useful to have a respected outside person, perhaps even the Chair of the department, join the meeting. Which option is best will depend on the circumstances.

Good luck. Richard

Souvik Agasti • 4 years ago

I am a doctoral student. I prepared a manuscript almost 7 months ago. But, my supervisor gave it to a master student in our group for final edition having some stupid argument that all those calculations were wrong. Now, he is claiming that the guy is the writer of this paper and I will be the second author. But, I can show that not a single calculation (not even notations) has been changed after his editing. The guy only changed few sentences in that paper. Since then, my supervisor is not letting me to communicate this paper. I'm sure that if I communicate, he will disagree with me. How can I publish that paper with my first authorship? I have no problem to affiliate them or to put their name in this paper. Also, I have no issue to leave this supervisor.