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After reading this question and this I haven't find my answer.

My advisor hasn't contributed to my work and I know that my work isn't significant and it won't publish in top journals. But I want to publish it without my advisor's name in a conference.

So my question is not about automatically coauthor my advisor or having high hopes on my individual work.

The Problem arise from here. We have to enroll in some seminar classes before starting to work on our thesis. In one of those classes our teacher said:

  1. "No matter what you do, you have to enlist your advisor's name in your papers because unless it would considered as a work with no supervisor and it can not be trusted."

  2. "In interview we have for PhD students, if the person who is applying hasn't written the name of his suprevisor we doubt him. Either he is a genius or he is hiding something or he is too active in his field."

  3. "In some companies and research labs everyone add the name of their fundraiser to show him their gratitude, so should we.".

So based on what I heard I'm going to face serious problems if I publish my work individually as a student. The question is:

  1. Apart from being unethical including a name of person who didn't contribute to work as a coauthor, does it have any academic weight? I mean, does it value my work if I say I did it alone or it does not have any different until coauthor isn't a student.

  2. Is it true that I am going to be accused as a not genuine person if I don't add my advisor's name? Because our teacher told us that he and his colleagues don't consider these kind of submitted papers trustworthy and genuine, so don't look at them carefully and mostly reject them on sight.

Edit:

Conclusion: Thank you all. I think my vision is more clear now. The right way is not the opposite of the wrong way. It means despite "spoon-fed" "a very distorted view", the right thing to do is not doing the opposite.

I decided to do my best to play as a team, because of its mentioned benefits, especially for my first paper. But if working as a team doesn't go well, there is no harm in solo publishing or getting some new advisers.

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If your adviser really hasn't contributed to your work, then you really do need to get some new advisers as soon as possible. –  EnergyNumbers May 22 at 17:14
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What would it mean to be "too active" in one's field? That sounds like a nice problem to have. –  Trevor Wilson May 22 at 17:34
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Actually, I heard the exact opposite to be said a lot (quite often on this website): during their PhD studies, it is often expected of the student to publish at least one paper without his adviser. This is supposed to demonstrate that the work done was not actually adviser's work, and that the PhD candidate is indeed capable of doing research and publishing on his own. –  penelope May 22 at 18:52
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@EnergyNumbers I strongly disagree. I wrote two papers as a graduate student that were fairly far afield from my advisor's interests, and while he read them and provided some comments, neither one of us thought he came anywhere near authorship - the papers basically arrived fully formed and written. Side projects are a thing that happens. –  Fomite May 22 at 20:01
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@EnergyNumbers is almost correct. If your adviser really hasn't contributed to your work, and they still insist on being a coauthor on your papers, then you really do need to get some new advisers as soon as poosible. –  JeffE May 23 at 2:27
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5 Answers 5

up vote 43 down vote accepted

I don't think your problem is with your advisor. Your real problem is with teachers in classes who say things like:

  • No matter what you do, you have to enlist your advisor's name in your papers because unless it would considered as a work with no supervisor and it can not be trusted."

  • "In interview we have for PhD students, if the person who is applying hasn't written the name of his suprevisor we doubt him. Either he is a genius or he is hiding something or he is too active in his field."

  • "In some companies and research labs everyone add the name of their fundraiser to show him their gratitude, so should we.".

In light of all the recent debate about whether we are too idealized and rosy in our views of academia, let me at least say this:

Whether or not this is common practice in the areas you work in, the problem here is the rationale being used to justify author inclusion. In no way is the decision being made based on some notion of contribution by the advisor (either financial or moral, or in any form). It's being based purely on a notion of patronage or bias.

The person making these claims has either a very distorted view of how authorship works, or is misleading new students in a terrible way.

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Just to make things clear. Does it value my work if I say I did it alone or it does not have any different until coauthor isn't a student. If not, I'd rather not pickup a fight and just go with the fund raiser for publishing my paper. –  user263485 May 22 at 17:52
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All I'm saying is that you really have to look at the authoring conventions in your area. If it is the case that PIs funding your research are typically added on, you should have a good reason for not doing so. –  Suresh May 22 at 17:54
    
The good reason is because I am publishing my first paper, I'd rather pay money, in order to have full authorship of my work. But if it wasn't my first, I'd just go with the fund raiser. –  user263485 May 22 at 17:59
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I agree with what you've written. But I'm not sure it actually answers the question(s) asked (in the last 4 sentences of the OP), does it? –  EnergyNumbers May 22 at 18:12
    
@EnergyNumbers I agree with you. I think I understand what Suresh is implying. All I should do is to change my point of view. –  user263485 May 22 at 18:25
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Apart from being unethical including a name of person who didn't contribute to work as a coauthor, does it have any academic weight?

You use very strong words, but things are not black and white. You are a student and most likely you do not know how to write a good paper. Why not involve your supervisor in the writing process? You can write the original manuscript and he will make the final version, since he is more experienced than you. In that setting you are still first author, he does contribute and he is co-author, your paper has more chances to be published and everyone is happy.

Is it true that I am going to be accused as a not genuine person if I don't add my advisor's name?

You are exaggerating again. If your paper will be rejected it will most likely be because it is not good enough and not because of your name. There is always the possibility that someone with no previous experience is easier to get his paper rejected (I believe many reviewers do a Google search on the person they are reviewing) but that mostly applies to big conferences. For smaller conferences or workshops criteria are not that strict.

But you have not thought the most critical factor. What if your paper gets accepted? Who will then pay for your conference registration and trip? Usually it is the advisor that provides such funding. If you submit it solo, you must do the entire process with the university bureaucracy alone and without support from some faculty member it will be much harder for the university to actually cover your expenses.

So, although I disagree with some of the comments your seminar tried to spoon-feed you, in the long run it will be better to play as a team member. So, involve your supervisor, make him actually contribute on the notion that you will still be first author. This cooperation might even vastly improve your paper and then it might get accepted even in a top conference or journal. In this setting, you will have more to win than to lose.

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Thanks for advice. I think I've found my way now :) It's not about authorship, it's about using the maximum potentials that are available in every situation. –  user263485 May 22 at 18:49
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"You are a student and most likely you do not know how to write a good paper." Er, what? –  Faheem Mitha May 23 at 20:30
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The OP admits this is his first paper. He also admits "my work isn't significant". So, isolating the "You are a student and most likely you do not know how to write a good paper.." without actually reading the OP's question is misleading. –  Alexandros May 24 at 9:30
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In scientific publications, at least, "author contribution" statements are becoming more and more common. These statements list the exact contributions that each author on the paper made. A number of excellent examples are provided on this Nature blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/nautilus/2007/11/post_12.html

If you included your supervisor as an author on the paper, providing such a statement would allow you to clarify the nature of your roles.

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+1, I think this should be always stated. –  Davidmh May 23 at 0:16
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First of all, pretty much all the justifications your teacher gave to you are lies. This person is trying to encourage you to put your supervisors' names on your papers, but avoiding telling you that you have to do so because it is the rule.

Secondly, there are roughly three ways a paper can be written as a grad student.

  • The student does some work and publishes it, but the supervisor is responsible for lots of guidance, planning, editing, making sure the work gets done, suggesting the original question, helping to place the paper, etc. This is how almost everyone's first paper gets written. The supervisor will almost always be an author, and everyone accepts that this is fair. (However, I have known some generous supervisors who decline an author credit in such cases, since they regard what they did as part of supervising, and not a specific contribution to authoring the paper).
  • The student and supervisor collaborate, similarly to how to colleagues would collaborate (but perhaps with the student doing more of the 'grunt work' and the supervisor making more of the decisions). Both are authors.
  • The student does work independently, perhaps asking for some limited advice or proofreading. The supervisor should not be an author, but often is in practice.

Most people except the very gifted start off with the first type, and everyone except those who don't progress very far should have some of the latter two types by the end of a PhD.

So if someone has only publications with their supervisor, it could be taken as meaning that they didn't do much independent work, but it could also be that they had to 'give credit' to their supervisor, or that they work in an area where most papers are collaborative.

If someone has only publications without their supervisor, it might be seen as positive, but it could also be assumed that their supervisor was generous in not taking credit, therefore neutral. If you are known to be a genius, the fact that your early publications were on your own will be mentioned, but it won't prove that you are a genius if this isn't already accepted.

The implied lack of credibility 'that your supervisor didn't approve of your work' would be a very strange reaction. It's only something you should worry about if there's some other reason you might come across as a maverick - for example all your papers are serious work about some topic beloved of conspiracy theorists, or you went straight into grad school from high school, etc. In these cases, you might want to make sure that some form of reflected legitimacy is evident.

If some has a combination of supervisor-included and -not-included work, it would be seem as normal.

In other words, no case is really a strong indicator of your strength.

Your last problem is what you should do. Your teachers are behaving unethically, but your best option is probably to go along with it. Just make sure that you can justify your authorship of the papers you consider yours, if asked in an interview. If so, anyone who takes the time to do so will probably figure out what your supervisor's contribution was, and won't assume that you were playing the same game.

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If your advisor has substantially contributed to the work described in the paper, of course they should be listed as a co-author. If they did less in the way of contribution, but did at least read the paper and suggest improvements, they could be a secondary author. If they just taught you (in general) and didn't work with you on the research/paper, I would think a dedication or "thank you" note in the paper would sufficiently recognize them for what they've done for you. Unless your school insists on listing advisors as co-authors (it's the custom there), leave them off if they did nothing. –  Phil Perry May 23 at 16:32
    
@PhilPerry - the custom of the school ought not to come into the discussion. The journal in which you publish usually has guidelines for authorship - those are the only ones you should follow. If the school insists on "guest authorship" (recognition without contribution) then you have to find journals that accept that standard. –  Floris May 23 at 19:16
    
@Floris, well, which is it then? You say to ignore what the school demands, and then to find a journal that meets those demands. If your school or advisor insists on guest authorship, you'll have to decide if you want to continue your association with them (accede to their unreasonable demand), or if the paper is important enough to you to be worth fighting them by switching advisors or even schools. –  Phil Perry May 23 at 22:10
    
@PhilPerry - in my comment I distinguished between "custom" of the school vs "insisting": I consider the former a suggestion, and the latter a condition of belonging to the school. It is hard to see how a school can actually force you to include the name of a non-contributing author; I don't think they have the legal authority (especially in the US). Still - I advocate finding ways to get the advisor to merit being listed as co-author, for all the reasons I outline in my answer (which I wrote a little after my comment, after giving the matter some further thought). –  Floris May 23 at 22:24
    
@Floris They didn't literally force me to include the name of a non-contributing author, but they did told us that the paper won't accomplish anything. The thing that made me doubt was one of my friends in another university. He told me he is going to solo publish his work and I was worried that he might destroy his efforts. Now I think both he and I have more options to consider. –  user263485 May 24 at 4:31
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It might be worth pointing out the existence of the Vancouver Protocol (first described by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, this is becoming more widely accepted). This protocol states

Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contributions to
1) conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data; and to
2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and on
3) final approval of the version to be published.
Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

This is quite restrictive, and clearly discourages some of the attributions that your teachers appear to encourage.

That said, it is important for a scientist at the start of his/her career to be very aware of the value of collaboration - working closely with your advisor (to the point where their contribution warrants co-authorship) is quite likely to improve the quality of your paper. If you believe it would not, then maybe you need to question your choice of advisor.

It is no doubt true that a person with a good publications record carries more weight in their chosen field, and that their papers will be read more carefully and cited more frequently. Because of this it is often considered a good idea to start out in this mode.

Personal note: in the 80s when I did my PhD, email wasn't yet a thing. My advisor was abroad for almost an entire year, and I did in fact independently write and publish a paper. The work in this paper was very good (I can say so in retrospect after more than 20 years), but I was a complete unknown - and it had incredibly narrow applicability. To this date, it has received just one citation. I still believe I was correct (given the circumstance) not to include my advisor's name on the paper, but it did nothing for my career (or the field). It would have been better if I had waited until he returned, discussed and improved the paper, and published jointly.

There is a lot that an experienced person can do merit co-authorship - but you have to create the opportunity for them to do so.

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