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I've submitted a publication to an ACS Journal where I performed all the experiments myself, most of the editorial work, and all the coordination. Other authors agreed to let me be the corresponding author.

ACS spontaneously changed the corresponding author to the last author (which doesn't even have a position a our institution) and send following e-mail to him:

Thank you for your recent submission. ACS Policy requires that the role of corresponding author be assigned to a senior editor who has the equivalent degree to Ph.D. If John Doe has the necessary requirement, and you agree, we would be happy to update the manuscript records. Thank you for the confirmation.

Beeing in Academia since many years, I am pretty aware of what a corresponding author is as I am aware of the questions Is it okay to list a PhD student as corresponding author? and Should student or supervisor be corresponding author for publications based on student research?, I'm a bit upset and asking myself on what base one can make such discrimination.

Since I couldn't find this ACS policy on their website: is this a kind of unofficial policy? What is the point of making someone corresponding author who doesn't have as much insights as I have?

I already have published in the past in ACS journals. My highest concern is that these only write to the corresponding author during the review and editorial process and the other authors are familiar with overfull e-mail boxes and "skipping e-mails"...

  • 8
    @FábioDias: I could understand this explanation, but this is not what is stated. And having a PhD doesn't mean you have a stable position. – John Doe Mar 23 '18 at 16:26
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    It is a super weird policy. Refer to pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/nn301566x for an editorial called "Who Are Corresponding Authors?" by ACS Nano Editor-in-Chief. Nothing about having a diploma is written. I never heard of such a practice, and find it weird. – Clément Mar 23 '18 at 16:33
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    @FábioDias Anyone can get a stable email address not tied to their current institution. – Alexey B. Mar 23 '18 at 16:34
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    In some field, corresponding author is important for the CV, and the email reason is very silly. This is not answer, but an opinion: I would consider submitting elsewhere – Emilie Mar 23 '18 at 17:01
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    Who did the e-mail come from? Journal publishing staff, or someone on the editorial board (i.e. a scientist)? If the former, I would consider e-mailing the editor-in-chief and asking if the policy could be waived. – Anonymous Mar 23 '18 at 17:35
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It is an extremely weird policy, and I never heard of any journal having a policy like this one.

I couldn't find a "general rule governing corresponding authors" that would apply to all the journals of the American Chemical Society.

In 2012, the editor on chief of ACS Nano wrote, in an editorial called "Who Are Corresponding Authors?",

In order to be accessible to those requesting information or materials, the corresponding authors must be stable in their positions and locatable. Unless students or postdocs have long-term positions, it is typically not appropriate for these authors to be corresponding authors, even if they serve the function of submitting the manuscript. (There are occasional exceptions, such as where the senior author has passed away.)

Cf. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/nn301566x

Their policy (that doesn't say anything about having or not a diploma) seems really strict, and, in my opinion, outdated, but it answers your question

What is the point of making someone corresponding author who doesn't have as much insights as I have?

Well, their idea (at least according to this editor) is that it is better to have a correspondent, even not aware of all the details of the publication, that no correspondent, because the "student without long-term position" left without leaving an address.

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    Another instance of ACS being obnoxious to scientists, after suing Sci-Hub. – Sylvain Ribault Mar 23 '18 at 20:42
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    So having a stable gmail or outlook or... email address is insufficient to be a corresponding author? Institutions change their email address formats far too often (I've had three or four different email addresses from where I am based, and they have no redirects) – David Roberts Mar 24 '18 at 6:38
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    It's almost as if they think there's no way to find the current contact information of an author, given only his name and the publication title. (Which, I think was true at some point in time. Maybe as recently as 20 years ago.) – davidbak Mar 24 '18 at 16:41
  • @davidbak It is still true if the author leaves academia for a different profession. The only people who are comparatively easy to find are academics. (And even that is not always true.) – DetlevCM Apr 2 '18 at 12:06
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I think you should try to do what Alexey B suggests and request that you be made joint corresponding author with the last author. I did this myself with an ACS journal when I was doing my PhD (around 2010) and the editor did not object.

  • Is the reason you did this because they would not let you be corresponding author for the same reason? – Kimball Mar 24 '18 at 12:29
  • No, I did not start off by requesting that I be made the sole corresponding author. I made the request that both my supervisor and myself be made corresponding author when I first submitted the article on the grounds that we had both played a large role in the project. – prudentAI Mar 24 '18 at 12:51
3

To answer the OP's question, a PhD student should be eligible to be listed as the corresponding author (and, when so many academic jobs are precarious in nature, it makes increasingly less sense to insist upon a 'stable' institutional email address).

  • Arguably, a PhD student usually has a longer term in their job than most other researchers these days! – Flyto Apr 21 '18 at 23:12

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