I was teaching a graduate course in previous semester. One of my student implemented an idea I discussed with him during semester project. The results are astonishing and we decided to publish our findings in a prestigious journal.
I included his supervisor as co-author, and before submission I sent the manuscript to him for his feedback. But in response he said, he should be second and corresponding author. He has zero contribution in idea, write up and experiments etc.
The student told me his professor is angry to him that why he is publishing article with other professor; although, it was outcome of semester project based on my idea.
Being a young faculty member how to handle this situation (Professor is very senior person in his 60s)? especially without hurting the relationship between student and his supervisor.

  • 1
    Another instance of those really nice ethical, moral academics who set such a fine example...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 13, 2019 at 9:17
  • 1
    I included his supervisor as co-author — Why?? As you say yourself, he made no contribution to the paper.
    – JeffE
    Apr 13, 2019 at 14:12
  • @JeffE I know its not right, I did upon request of student and that is the reason I sent him before publication so he may give his feedback and his authorship can also be justified. But things went in other direction.
    – Mohaqiq
    Apr 14, 2019 at 2:08

2 Answers 2


What is considered normal, hence ethical, varies by field. In mathematics, this would be a highly unusual situation. But in some lab sciences, the PI is normally included on all publications since the lab itself exists only by their efforts.

I suspect you are in some such field and would then suggest that the senior professor should probably get his way. It may even be advantageous to have him as "corresponding" author as it may ease publication. In such fields readers understand these things and know who does the actual work. Thus it isn't considered to be a problem in those fields.

If you are a co-author it is probably as much as you can expect here. And maybe even that is impossible. But work to get an acknowledgement in the work, at least - especially if it says that the original idea came from you. You actually say that the student did the work of developing the idea, of course. If the student is "first author" it is a good outcome. The rest is just a bit of an arcane dance.

I think that if you don't press to hard for what might be considered in the field to be an unusual outcome that the relationship between the student and the senior professor will settle down sufficiently.


My personal feeling in this matter is that the student or you should be the first author (better if the student), his PI the second or later, and you be the corresponding author.

Breaking it down, if you be the first and corresponding author then it is kind of redundant with no extra benefit. But if the student is the first author, it shows that you guided the student through the project and writing, hence good teaching and leadership skills. Lastly, in no instance, I believe the other PI should be the corresponding author. Just because he is senior and might be established in the field should not just get his way. If you are an early career, then getting on the publications as the corresponding author is a great way to get exposure and network. In this situation, I believe the best course of action would be to sit with the student and his PI and discuss this in person and explain everything. And make sure he understands that this publication is the result of a project that was conceived during semester teaching to ease out the tension he might be having with his student working with other professors.

This is my own opinion, so proceed with your own gut feeling.

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