At my previous job I wrote a small paper draft, which was funded by a non-profit foundation. In this draft I solved a small but existing scientific problem. So I elaborated this to make it close to a complete publication.

I put also the coworker who acquired the funds for the research as second coauthor, although his sole contributions to the publication were minor error corrections. He is also a full-time professor in a similar field and was excited about my findings. He said that there are a few points missing to make a full publication and we should work on this as soon as he will have time.

This was more than one and half year ago. Afterwards, I wrote him three times that we should continue on this and if he doesn't have time, then he should write me what is missing and I will finish the publication. He postponed the work always by half a year. My last email I sent him a couple months ago, he didn't answer at all.

I'm still interested in publishing the research even on myself. Hence, I would like to know how to proceed best in this situation.

  • Can I continue on myself and try to publish with his name on it?
  • Can I remove his name since he did not contribute anything beside small corrections (should be possible to verify afterwards on svn repository)
  • Third option, is it possible to just write a small article on my personal blog where I present the findings with new text and new code.
  • It is also possible to extend my idea to a more general case and use the special case just as an example. How can I proceed on this?
  • The last option would be to ask the last time with a fixed deadline. But I think he set it two times by postponing by half a year?
  • something else?

Thanks in advance


1 Answer 1


Not only you can remove his name, but you should remove it, if his contribution is limited to minor error correction. You can instead thank him profusely in the acknowledgements. And send the draft to him before submission, saying you will submit within a few days.

Your third option of a blog post is also good, if you do not care too much about your publication statistics.

Excerpt from Cambridge University's guidelines on authorship:

Normally, an author is an individual judged to have made a substantial intellectual or practical contribution to a publication and who agrees to be accountable for that contribution. This would normally include anyone who has:

  • made a significant contribution to the conception or design of the project or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND/OR
  • drafted the work or reviewed/revised it critically for important intellectual content.

This is general guidance only and may not apply to all disciplines or journals which may set different standards.

Anyone listed as an author on a paper should approve the final version of the paper and accept responsibility for ensuring that he or she is familiar with its contents and can identify his or her contribution to it.

Individuals who contributed to the work, but whose contributions were not of sufficient magnitude to be listed as authors should be properly acknowledged, usually in an acknowledgements section.

  • Moving an "author" to "acknowledgements" could be scientific misconduct (depending on situation). Similarly, some journals require that people consent to being named in "acknowledgements".
    – tsttst
    May 24, 2018 at 0:29
  • In this particular case, according to the description of that person's contribution, making him an author in the first place would be misconduct. May 24, 2018 at 20:58
  • Depending on the field, contributing funds qualifies for authorship.
    – tsttst
    May 24, 2018 at 22:42
  • Whether you have him as an author or not depends on your field, I think, but I very much agree with @SylvainRibault that you should finish the article, send it to your co-author and say you plan to submit in x weeks. May 25, 2018 at 8:26
  • @tsttst : I have added an excerpt from guildelines on autorship. If contributing funds qualifies, why not have administrators or politicians as coauthors? This sounds like a perversion, although it may be quite common in some fields. May 25, 2018 at 8:59

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