I graduated from university somewhat recently with a four year undergraduate degree and during my junior/senior year I worked on a research project with a professor.

At the beginning of the project (nearly three years ago) he helped me a lot with understanding the background/context of the research, but after so long I was the only one contributing to it (he's an applied mathematician and I'm a computer scientist, and the project is a computer based A.I. so I have been the only one programming it).

Now that I've graduated and have continued working on the project, and maybe will try to publish within the next year or so, I'm wondering if/how he should be included as an author/contributor?

Edit: At no point has he ever actually contributed to the project in the form of code. All he's done is mentor me through the concepts, bridging the mathematics and biology/chemistry so that I could understand it and translate into computer code. Additionally, all the code design and approach has been developed by me.

  • 5
    um, when your former professor is no longer contributing?
    – Bob Brown
    May 12, 2019 at 1:33
  • 2
    You've spent 3 years working on this project together. Sounds like both of you should be co-authors, regardless of when this project is published and regardless of your affiliation at the submission moment.
    – Ran G.
    May 12, 2019 at 6:15
  • 6
    Possible duplicate of When should a supervisor be an author? May 12, 2019 at 7:00
  • 5
    This sounds like you think this is all about code, and any other aspect of the project is irrelevant. Answer this question: would you be able to produce the same outcome without all the ideas from your professor, without his expertise in the underlying field? You write "so that I could understand it and translate into computer code": could you have written that code without the understanding he provided? In other words, if you couldn't have arrived at the current stage of the project without him, his contributions seem substantial and warrant coauthorship.
    – user68958
    May 12, 2019 at 7:21

1 Answer 1


I'll copy and paste my answer from another question earlier today:

Everyone who makes a sufficient contribution to your paper for authorship should be an author on your paper (and no one else).

It doesn't matter what institution they are at nor does anything else: everyone that contributes at a level appropriate for authorship is an author.

Probably the best person to judge this is your former professor. Have a conversation with them about where the project is at and how you see their contributions and ask whether they think it is appropriate if they are an author or if you should be a sole author.

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