Just found one of my very old written manuscript in my backup folder and interested to submit it to some journal.

I had written a Manuscript with 7 co-authors in 2008 just 10 years before. The entire work was dealt with observation datasets until 2008. Although I had conducted all the works independently and wrote the manuscript alone, but my supervisor had given 7 authors's name due to their little helps like suggestions to improve the manuscript, English check etc. However, I counts their contribution to some extent. But one of the co-author (say X) took 5 years to check the manuscript due to perhaps his busy schedule. So finally the manuscript was submitted to a journal in 2013. The reviewers appreciated the work and strongly recommended to update the results with recent datasets i.e. until 2013. It somehow irritated me because I had left the institute long before and was working in different field. Anyway, I updated the results until 2013 and modified the manuscript accordingly.

But all gone waste again, because the same X-author couldn't check the manuscript in the given time-line even within 1 year. So the editor rejected the manuscript. Now it is already 5 years, the same X-author could not send back his revision. I have also stopped sending reminders 2 years before (last reminded in April 2016). Probably I need to update the results again i.e. until 2018 now.

But I would like to remove this X-author's name from my manuscript first and then submit it as quick as possible. Now I am wondering proper sentences to ask the X-author to remove his/her name from our manuscript.

  • 1
    You have the manuscript - remove the name and submit, check out the questions on here asking the opposite...
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 15, 2018 at 6:32
  • Have you discussed it with your supervisor, who added those authors? Mar 15, 2018 at 8:58

4 Answers 4


When a manuscript is ready to go, the way to deal with a lot of authors is to send an email along the following lines:

Find enclosed the latest version of the manuscript. I plan to submit this version on xx/xx. If you have any comments send them by then, otherwise I will assume everyone is fine with its present form.

  • I don't quite agree with it. You can't just email people around and order them to respond with in a deadline. You might dash into a dangerous zone by doing so. I think this co-author business is not that easy to handle.
    – Coder
    Mar 15, 2018 at 18:12
  • 6
    This is exactly how I handle this situation, and it's always served me well.
    – Fomite
    Mar 15, 2018 at 18:46
  • This is reasonable when there is an open line of communication, but after TEN YEARS? I would start with a phone call to discuss, and send this only if you can't reach them after a reasonable amount of time/effort.
    – cag51
    Mar 15, 2018 at 20:57
  • 1
    This is exactly the standard way to go. If coauthors are unable to deal with the deadline, they can contact the submitting author asking for extra time. It is not an interference with schedule of other. Plus, submitting an almost ready to go manuscript should be of highest priority, second only to a chance for rising funds :) Tough such an urgency is not the main characteristic of the actual situation described by OP.
    – Alchimista
    Mar 16, 2018 at 8:31

I think you should be either more or less pro-active.

  • This paper is TEN YEARS old! Do you really want to keep writing it? Even assuming it is still relevant ten years later, it seems like it does not really occupy your attention. You should seriously consider just cutting your losses and working on topics that you find more interesting.
  • Alternatively, get this finished this month. Make the updates, then call X (not e-mail, call -- or visit in person, if possible) and ask him if he is still interested in being listed as an author (he may not be). If so, then tell him you will be submitting this month, and will require his inputs. Be clear that if his inputs do not arrive by a particular date, you will submit without him. Then, write him an e-mail summarizing what you agreed on. You may want to repeat this step with the other six authors, who may also be uninterested in putting more time into this paper ten years later.

I have no idea why the editor rejected this paper because X didn't review it. How did the editor know?

  • If X's technical inputs are essential, then you may want to seriously reconsider moving forward with this paper
  • If X is providing grammar help, etc., then you can find someone else to do this
  • If X sabotaged this paper in some way, then you may want to be more aggressive about downgrading him to an acknowledgment, or, in consultation with the other authors, removing him. (But again, ask yourself if the paper is worth any resulting political fallout).

Things vary by field, but in general, I would recommend against adding people as authors unless they did a substantial amount of work. Grammar help is cause for an acknowledgement (at most), not authorship.

  • 2
    As far as I understand OP, the "editor rejected the paper" because the authors, due to the working speed of X, missed the resubmission deadline. This leads to more or less automatic rejection of the paper.
    – Mark
    Mar 15, 2018 at 18:14

This is a very difficult situation you are in. One of the good (and bad) thing is that you have many co-authors (7 as I read). This is what you can do.

Don't be in hurry in writing to Prof. X again. He has already wasted enough time of yours. It is time to get a vote. Following the sequence given below.

  1. Talk to your supervisor who added those co-authors: Discussion with him all the details and delay in Prof. X's part. He would suggest you something about keeping or removing X from the paper. (This, I feel is not going to result in a good outcome. But, try. Let your supervisor know.)

  2. Take a consensus of all the other(6) co-authors of the paper: Ask them politely whether they understand the situation (or forgotten it). If they suggest to keep X, you can't help it. If all of them agree to remove X from the paper, then you could follow the step 3.

  3. Once step 1 and step 2 are done, explain the situation to X politely and say clearly that you are submitting the paper (whatever the version you have at the moment) to a journal. And, also clearly mention that all other 6 authors have agreed to the submission.

Update to (1) based on OP's comment to this answer: Since your supervisor does not want to get into the business of ugly friendship, I would advise to not waste time behind this paper anymore. This is because, if you submit without positive consent of your supervisor, in future, it might cause conflict of interests and put you in a messy situation. Another assumptions that I had made (in item (2) and (3)) is that your co-authors are also professors or known researchers. It seems they are your juniors, now situation is really messy. Just stay out of it. You already have spent 5-6 years with it, don't ruin more.

  • 2
    All co-authors were my juniors except my supervisor. So 5 co-authors are just waiting to remove the X's name. But that X is a well known renowned researcher and friend of my supervisor. My supervisor is truly not telling anything except these few words "What to do; I have emailed him; Wait little more etc etc".. By the way, many thanks for your answer and fruitful suggestions...
    – Kay
    Mar 15, 2018 at 12:15
  • @Kay I updated this answer to make things clearer. Thanks. Good luck!
    – Coder
    Mar 15, 2018 at 18:10

I have decided to answer because it is particularly easy. Simply remove X and submit as fast as possible.

For possible cons. You are in the academy since long time. I do not think you have to be afraid. Five authors will be aware of the story, just in case X decide to spread rumours out.

  • 2
    Actually who down voted my answer must be as X. What X is making is totally unfair, or better said, wrong and totally irrespectfuI. I would have warned him/her of removsl well before, by the way.
    – Alchimista
    Mar 15, 2018 at 21:29
  • In the conciseness of a comment I have omitted to specify that at least X is not interested at all or could have forgot. However he/she has been contacted as all the others and still neglects to show. This doesn't change anything tough. This said the proper answer (but is 10 y too late in the actual case) is that given by @Miguel
    – Alchimista
    Mar 17, 2018 at 9:08

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