I am having the following trouble. Within a collaboration I was asked to prepare and pre-characterize some samples. I did so and sent the samples along with a report on the characterization results.

A year later I received a first draft of a paper: some paragraphs related to the collaborators experimental technique some copy paste of older papers of his. I thought I could safely ignore this as it was just meant to signal "we are working on this!".

Next thing I get (four months later): Mail from the submitting author

Congratulations, paper accepted!

I asked him to send me the draft: Nothing!

Six weeks later, after having met one of his PhD students at a conference the submitting author sends me the proof from the publisher for proofreading. I come up with six pages of corrections (ranging from basic logical errors in argumentation to manipulative data representation), sent it to all coauthors (I assumed the others also might not have seen the manuscript before) and received zero feedback.

Paper was published two weeks later with most of my grammatical and semantical corrections incorporated.

I asked my boss (also co-author on the paper) how to deal with it. His answer: "Take it as one more paper and forget it!".

However, I do agree with this attitude. Now the tricky part: I never agreed on the authorship nor explicitly disagreed (hoping to bring the paper in a decent shape and considering the amount of work already put in). Should I adress the editor asking to withdraw my name arguing that I basically had not seen the paper? Or should I also point out the obvious flaws which might lead to a complete rejection?

  • 8
    You say "most of my grammatical and semantical corrections [were] incorporated". Is this a typo (ie, you meant to say they weren't and were mostly ignored)? If you gave them six pages of issues and suggested corrections, and they implemented them, then combined with the actual bit of the research you contributed that sounds like you meet reasonable metrics for authorship criteria. But at the end you talk about the obvious flaws, so I'm thinking maybe you meant to imply the "weren't" version. – zibadawa timmy Mar 28 '18 at 13:25
  • 2
    Implicit is that your objections related to logic and data manipulation were not addressed? – Dawn Mar 28 '18 at 13:59
  • 2
    @zibadawa timmy Sorry that it was unclear. I ment to say that "grammatical and semantical corrections were incorporated". However, this corresponded to merely about one of my six pages corrections. Inconsistencies and issues raised on the data analysis part were not corrected. Considering the amount of research contributed I clearly meet the criteria for authorship, however, I do not agree with the scientific conclusions and my arguments were not considered, i.e. there was no proper discussion before publishing. – Seeker Mar 29 '18 at 8:25

The most effective and natural method would be to simply ask, possibly explain your situation if needed, to the editor or publisher of the paper.

If you have more issues with the publication, you are free to mention them, but this is mostly orthogonal to whether you want your name on the possible publication.

It would also be a good idea to inform your co-authors of this decision, as they may take it badly if they aren't notified.


I do understand your issue with the paper that was eventually published: you are an author, but you don't agree to what was in it. So neither accepting nor rejecting can be the answer here. In other words: you might not be asking the right question. Instead, I would do what one does to criticize any paper one wants to criticize, i.e., I would do what everyone does daily in scientific communication: publish a second paper with all you have to say.

Consider two scenarios: in the first, author A publishes a paper and author B disagrees with it; in the second one, author A publishes a paper and years later author A him/herself wants to change his/her own view on it. In both cases, the initial paper would be the object of a critique made in a second paper, right? After all, he/she couldn't simply "change" a paper published earlier (maybe days or weeks in your case, maybe years in author A's case). So it's the same here. I'd turn those 6 pages of corrections into a paper (a "reply" do the first one). You could do it by yourself or with any (or all) of your coauthors, but you can (and should, in my opinion) always do it.

  • 4
    I disagree with your answer, because OP's problem is not that he has a different opinion about what is written, but that he thinks that there are basic logical errors in argumentation to manipulative data representation. Having such a bogus paper published under one's name can hurt you, because a reader could assume that OP agreed to publication of these errors and manipulations. – Mark Apr 15 '18 at 18:17
  • You're half right: my answer is not the only possible. There are different paths here. I presented one, which assumes the paper published will hardly be corrected by the editor, so publishing an "erratum" or self-critique (or simply a critique, regarding the OP's co-authors) as a second paper is a way. Another would be to present a direct claim to the editor with some sort of request, but what would exactly be appropriate here: to remove OP's name from authors? To replace the paper for a corrected version? Or to publish an erratum along with it? These are all options available do the OP. – ASR Apr 17 '18 at 13:26

It's more complicated to act now if you didn't do it right away, but to me the big problem here is that these people submitted a paper with your name on it, without asking for your permission first.

Once you notice that a paper has been submitted, or accepted, or published, with your name on it, and you didn't give permission for this to happen, my opinion is that you should contact the submitters immediately, let them know that you hadn't agreed to this, that this is not acceptable, and that you need a copy of the draft to decide whether you are OK with the paper bearing your name. If they don't answer (as is the case here) you have every right to request them to remove your name from that paper that you didn't saw. If they don't do it, you should escalate to whoever is publishing the paper and let them know that the material has been submitted without your consent and you don't want your name associated to it.

(Let me clarify that working with people on stuff, even circulating early drafts and exchanging feedback, does not mean that you implicitly agreed to these people submitting without your agreement. Just because you agreed to the general idea of publishing something with these people eventually but not agree with the publication of a paper in its current form. The actual submission of the paper for publication shouldn't happen unless all authors have had a chance to confirm that they were OK with it, e.g., with the choice of venue, with the current shape of the draft, etc.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.