I recently completed my PhD and have started a position at a different institution. I am writing a paper which extends a model I introduced in my PhD. It wasn't a significant part of my PhD, more of an aside (about 2 pages). The idea of how to extend it came out of a discussion with the external examiner during my PhD defense (my supervisor was not present). I have a good relationship with my PhD supervisor and I know they would be interested in the project.

I would like to publish this as the sole author. Should my PhD supervisor be a co-author? They have not been involved in (or aware of) the work to extend the model. How do I let them know without potentially affecting our relationship?

Note, I have no reason to believe they would be upset about such things and may be overthinking this...

2 Answers 2


I would suggest to mask your question by asking for advice, e.g.

I recently wrote this paper (attach paper) and as I am still relatively new to the academic world and the basic idea for this paper originated during my PhD (see pages X,Y of my thesis), I would like to ask if I should put you as a second author.

If you already send a finished paper, they will most likely understand that you are politely asking for the ok to publish it as sole author, but you are not burning any bridges this way.


The choice is completely yours. If you want to publish as sole author there is nothing in ethics or curtesy to stop it. If you want to include him, he agrees, and he contributes, then you can include him.

You are now an independent scholar and your future is your own. A lot of people helped you get to where you are, but that doesn't make them co-authors of your work.

Some people, working in esoteric areas, will want to build a community of researchers in that area to ease the progress. Synergy is a good thing. If such is the case, working together is indicated. But even there, it might be worth thinking about how to build such a community at your new institution.

You can also simply acknowledge the general contribution to your education that your advisor provided somewhere in the new paper, and should also acknowledge the person who helped you come up with the idea.

You can send them a copy of the paper a the same time you submit it, again thanking them for past help and support. You can also ask for comment, but, more important, you can suggest future collaboration.

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