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This question stems from a broader question at:

How to deal with corresponding authors not sharing submission steps? (E.g. Peer reviews & Decisions)

I often run into the uncomfortable situation where a corresponding author will not share details about received peer review and editorial decisions. I am not sure how common such a situation is, and what is the best procedure to follow.

This happened where I was not the first author however I did much (if not most) of the writing and data analysis. Therefore I feel more than just entitled to read and discuss reviewers' comments. At least once I was left with the impression that no strict peer review actually took place (on a paper where the PI was friends with the handling editor).

I was wondering whether it would be appropriate if I directly contacted the journal seeking to receive the provided peer review and editorial decision. (After requesting and being ignored by both the first & corresponding author(s)).

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    Interesting question. Never happened to me to be in such a situation. I think when we are submitting we should guarantee that communication between us and the editors is shared to all aithors. I suspect the Journal won't be happy with the behaviour of your coauthor but I am not sure.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 25, 2018 at 13:00
  • I really believe this is more common than reported, because other colleagues have claimed in the past not having seen peer review ‘because they were not the first author’. I feel this is a consequence of a culture of gift authorship, which seems widespread in all places this happened to me.
    – Scientist
    Jan 26, 2018 at 1:03
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    I perfectly understand what you say. Then is not really manageable via the editor, which I forgot to say before. It is not working in armony... my comment is in line with Roland. Corresponding author should fulfill his role ahead the editor. Kinda misconduct.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 26, 2018 at 8:10

1 Answer 1

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No, it's not appropriate. The whole peer-review system relies on the corresponding author's trustworthiness. Asking the journal to provide reviews to other authors is an implicit allegation that the corresponding author is not fulfilling their duties or possibly even engaged in misconduct. Unless there is actual misconduct involved or the corresponding author no longer available (e.g., sick) other authors should never contact the journal. Bringing this lack of communication among authors to the journal's attention is the last resort and will not only cost you a collaboration (and thereby make an enemy) but probably also prevent the publication.

It even would be more appropriate to contact the corresponding author's superiors, although that would be a nuclear option too.

I would have a frank discussion with the corresponding author. I might even say that this could be the last collaboration if they don't start taking me serious.

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    an implicit allegation that the corresponding author is not fulfilling their duties or possibly even engaged in misconduct — But the corresponding author isn’t fulfilling their duties and they are engaged in misconduct.
    – JeffE
    Jan 25, 2018 at 13:06
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    @JeffE Well, you could say that. But still, bringing this to the journal's attention is the last resort and will not only cost you a collaboration (and thereby make an enemy) but probably also prevent the publication.
    – user9482
    Jan 25, 2018 at 13:08
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    @Roland Perhaps I should have emphasised I am a postdoc as opposed to the 'relapse' corresponding author's status as a PI. They do not take my requests seriously, especially after I move to another lab. Moreover at least in the institutions where this happened (3 different places in 2 countries) I'd expect the dean to side with a PI in any disputes with non-staff. These PIs are in fact friends with their deans.
    – Scientist
    Jan 25, 2018 at 13:12
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    @Scientist I don't see many options for you. You can of course report this to the journal. But you'll have to live with the possible result: an enemy and no publication. You can also just threaten to contact the journal. If you can, it might be better to simply visit the collaborator in person. If they then still don't provide the reviews, there is probably actual, serious misconduct instead of laziness or negligence.
    – user9482
    Jan 25, 2018 at 13:18
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    @Scientist Yes, this is academic misconduct. Publication requires the consent of all coauthors. Hiding communication with the journal makes that consent impossible.
    – JeffE
    Jan 25, 2018 at 19:51

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