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Is it the usual practice in your discipline for the postdoc in the group to be placed as co-author as well as a corresponding author on all publications that are written by the PhD students in the group?

For some publications, the postdoc provides input and advice, and for others none whatsoever. The reasoning behind this practice is that the postdoc needs publications for his academic career. However, the PhD students that do 95% of the work in some cases, are the only ones able to answer scientific questions. As a consequence, emails are prepared for the postdoc by the PhD students, and sent out under the name of the postdoc.

Is this a standard practice in your field of research?

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This seems unethical bordering on the ridiculous. –  Tobias Kildetoft May 11 at 12:04
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If you are still the first author, I think there is no harm to have his name, providing there is not so many postdoc. –  bingung May 11 at 12:11
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@bingung "no harm to you" is not the same as "ethical" –  xLeitix May 11 at 12:20
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@bingung The longer an author list, the more diluted every single author's contribution becomes, so it does harm you. It's obviously unethical too. –  Marc Claesen May 11 at 12:40
    
Sometimes my colleague paper ended up with some authors we have never heard of…and I think sometimes whether include one's name in a paper is quite political. As students, they tend to avoid arguing with the supervisor 'why include this guy name' as long as they are the first author. I think this is not alright, but people just get used to it. –  bingung May 11 at 12:53
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I come from a field that is rather (let's call it) pragmatic about co-authorship, and I have never heard of a postdoc automatically being a co-author of papers. Sure, sometimes the input of the postdoc is not extremely large, but having a postdoc as a default co-author of each paper irrespective of contribution seems very uncommon to me.

The reasoning behind this practice is that the postdoc needs publications for his academic career.

Who cares? The same is true for you. If he cannot write papers himself or actually advise students that write good papers (not the same as just being on a paper without contribution), he should not be able to progress his career.

As a consequence, emails are prepared for the postdoc by the PhD students, and sent out under the name of the postdoc.

That's ridiculous. Don't do that (either for a postdoc or a professor). If they are not able to answer questions about a paper, they need to at least be honest enough to defer to the person that can. Pretending like the postdoc is the real brain behind a paper is certainly not ethical.

Is this a standard practice in your field of research?

Nope. Never heard of that, and Applied CS is certainly not a field that is well-known for its die-hard adherence to ethical guidelines re: co-authorship.

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+1 for Who cares? If he cannot write papers himself or actually advise students that write good papers, he should not be able to progress his career. –  Alexandros May 11 at 17:50
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