The lead author has conceived the initial idea, developed the methods, the experiments, the analysis, and has written the draft. Coauthors have contributed to that draft mainly by rephrasing and restructuring it, in a way that lead author disagrees.

Additionally, coauthors insist on submitting to a journal which lead author disagrees with, but also the coauthors do not agree for submission on journals which the lead author prefers.

Lead author wants to stop collaborating with the coauthors, but doesn't want to leave this work unpublished (coauthors say they will ask for retraction if work is submitted, since they believe they contributed considerably). Would it be possible for the lead author to omit the coauthors' contributions by rewriting the manuscript, and submit it as the only author?

Given that the solution of negotiating and finding a middle way is excluded, do you have any other solutions to propose?

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    Would it be possible for the lead author to omit the coauthors' contributions — No. You have to work it out like adults. – JeffE Feb 24 '18 at 17:14
  • @JeffE, thanks for dropping by, but a single 'No' without any reasons doesn't help. Besides, the solution of negotiating and finding a middle way is excluded. – WYSIWYG Feb 24 '18 at 17:35
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    Generally, if there is a disagreement you compromise or you're stuck. Would it be possible to find a neutral party that helps mediate negotiations? – Anyon Feb 24 '18 at 18:06
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    This is clearly a messy situation, and the authors must come to an agreement in order to get the paper published. Mediation could help. Another possible way out would be to split the contributions into two papers. – user3697176 Feb 24 '18 at 20:33
  • @Anyon, thanks! It feels like stuck at the moment! Both sides have tried to negotiate; I said this solution is excluded after trying a lot. I guess it doesn't work because of the different demands on time for publishing, and journal 'prestige'. Lead author just needs this published soon, and ideologically doesn't care about Impact Factors, whereas coauthors don't have pressure of time, and want to go down the Impact Factor ranking. Of course, journal affects content, and there's the disagreement. – WYSIWYG Feb 24 '18 at 23:56

It seems to me that choosing where to submit is within the responsabilities of the first author. Even though the acceptance of the co-authors is encouraged and desired in order to maintain a healthy relation, I think the last word is his.

I also think that there's a lack of empathy in this matter. Co-authors should be asking themselves how would they feel in the author's position. How would they feel if they had an idea, developed methods, analysis and drafts and kept being undermined by the rest of the team?

For closure, keep in mind that a work is best if published, regardless of place. Spending all the effort taken because of such disagreement seems petty and dull to me. It is better to let it go and focus on the next project.

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