I graduated 8 months ago with 7 SCI article published. Recently, I submitted another article based on my thesis work. My supervisor, who actually has no supervisory role in my thesis except for providing a monthly stipend, wants me to add him as a co-author. He argues that he supported my research, but in fact I paid him back more than he supported me, in the form of my work on various projects (totally different than my thesis topic).

During my PhD he never took an interest in my PhD thesis, rather he always used me for his short term industry projects. In 4.5 years we didn’t have a single discussion/meeting on my PhD thesis.

Is him asking me to add him as an author morally correct?
What if I refuse his request? Can my action be consider an unethical act?

  • In some fields of study, the one who provides the funding is automatically included as co-author. But not in other fields. I can only assume your advisor knows what is standard in your field.
    – GEdgar
    May 8, 2018 at 18:15
  • 3
    The most suitable thing to do is thanking him inside the acknowledgement part of your article. May 8, 2018 at 18:20
  • I am ready to add his name in acknowledgment but he want to be author.
    – Mohaqiq
    May 9, 2018 at 4:35
  • Funding was not provided for my thesis topic. As I said I worked for him on various small industry projects. He was not interested in serious thesis topic. I did research independently with coordination with professors and researchers from other universities
    – Mohaqiq
    May 9, 2018 at 4:37

2 Answers 2


If this is the case, what he is doing is not morally correct. You can refuse his request and thank him inside the acknowledgement part of your article for helping you. An author of an article should make some major contributions to the work, even if he is not writing any part of the article. Minor contributors should be mentioned in the acknowledgement section.


If I were to publish any of my thesis works as article, I would be adding my supervisor as co-author; to avoid any future conflicts of interests. I am anyway loosing nothing by doing so. In fact, I would expect a stronger recommendation from him. The relationship between supervisor and PhD student extends beyond just the thesis and degree. So, I would not affect it in this way.

  • 1
    I am anyway loosing nothing by doing so — Yes, you are losing full credit for your work. Gift authorship is unethical. Buying recommendations with coauthorship is unethical.
    – JeffE
    May 9, 2018 at 13:26
  • @JeffE I know these. But, I don't see any business here as the person in the context is my phd supervisor and the work is a part carried out in the phd thesis under his able guidance (officially).
    – Coder
    May 9, 2018 at 17:24

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