I would like to submit a part of my master's thesis which is more or less close to an end. I wrote the entire thesis without having much feedback from my advisor as he's in a different city and we had literally no chance to meet except a few times. The feedback he had provided was too little and I want to submit a part of the thesis to a conference on my own. I will give his name of course while submitting but do I have to also inform him? If I have to, then he might not approve this as he contributed very little and still he doesn't like my research much. What should I do according to your experiences?

  1. Should I inform him and bare his negative comments about not submitting at all?
  2. Or should I submit as single-author paper as I, from the beginning to the end, was only not the writer (of course it's my thesis) but also the solely contributor to this thesis? (He even said it to me as " you did very much well in fact, on your own", in one of our meeting.)

edit: by giving his name, I mean not as a formal authorship, rather than as a footnote, sth like that.

  • 24
    I would be pretty mad if someone submitted my name on a paper and didn't even tell me first. Why not ask your advisor if they want to be a co-author?
    – Kathy
    Jun 26, 2019 at 20:40
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    No. No. I have repeated no because comments must be long enough.
    – Alchimista
    Jun 27, 2019 at 9:42
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    "he doesn't like my research much" < - - If that is the, how do you think he will react when he finds out that, without asking, you put his name on your research?
    – Nick S
    Jun 27, 2019 at 11:34
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    @usergrad Okay, so ask him that. It lets him know you plan to submit and gives him a chance to make any comments, objections, etc. Far better for that to happen before submission than after.
    – Kathy
    Jun 27, 2019 at 14:34
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    You should definitely inform your advisor. It is very likely that his response will actually be useful for you, and in any case doing this behind his back can lead to an unhealthy situation. On the other hand, you are in no obligation to actually do what he tells you afterwards, if his reaction turns out to be unreasonable.
    – Blazej
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:12

5 Answers 5


Your first priority should be to finish your degree. Without more information, I don't know whether submitting alone would jeopardize that or not, so find out first. Make sure you understand the rules at your university around theses and publication.

Also consider what is considered appropriate in your field. I assume it is economics, but I have no knowledge whether it is appropriate for a student to publish without his or her advisor. In some fields it would be fine. In others, it would be considered a transgression.

Your advisor probably knows all of this. If personalities don't suggest otherwise it would probably be best to ask him how you should submit your work to the conference and whether that would cause any difficulties.

My best guess is that he would say ok, but if not, consider what else he says in light of the first priority - completion.

At the level of a master's degree, a joint paper with your advisor still has value, so don't rule that out completely if it is the common practice of your field, or if it would help advance your cause.

But you are probably the best judge here to evaluate both the requirements of your university and the relationship with the advisor.


Under no circumstances can it be ok to submit with his name on it but without his explicit consent. This wouldnt be ok if he'd be enthusiastic about your research, and if he is not particularly fond of it, this will quite certainly end badly.

If you are confident that your advisor did not contribute to the planned submission in a meaningful way, the default course of action should be to sent him a message informing him of the planned submission and thanking him for the guidance received. That way, if he disagrees on not having contributed, there is a chance to fix stuff before they blow.

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    I interpreted it as an ack, not as co-authorship, but even that requires permission in some places.
    – Buffy
    Jun 26, 2019 at 11:23

I am based in Germany and had a similar problem recently. As it turns out, my university had a guideline which explicitly says that you are the sole author of you bachelor's / master's thesis, since everything else (e.g. co-authorship of your advisor) would be in conflict with the fact that the thesis should be an assessment of ONLY the student's capabilities. I suggest that you find out if your university has a guideline for such issues.

Having your advisor on board might have advantages later, i.e. when it comes to writing rebuttals or preparing the presentation.

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    Authorship on the thesis itself is not the same as authorship on a paper derived from the thesis. Distilling a say 100 page thesis to a good 6 - 10 page paper is a non-trivial task, and if the advisor had a role in that by for example proposing which aspects from the thesis to put in the paper and how to build it up overall, that would certainly have deserved co-authorship.
    – silvado
    Jun 26, 2019 at 11:24
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    @silvado really? I give and get advice to/from colleagues about that all the time, even editing/correcting papers. We've never asked for or even considered coauthorship. Jun 26, 2019 at 13:43
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    @guifa I agree that editing/correcting is usually not a sufficient contribution for authorship. But what I refer to here is essentially planning the structure of the paper and making a compelling line of argumentation to come to the conclusions.
    – silvado
    Jun 26, 2019 at 14:40
  • @silvado I agree with you. To me, the original question sounded as if the supervisor would be hands-off and the paper would be an excerpt of the thesis. Jun 27, 2019 at 8:09

For this answer I'll assume that you already figured out that publishing your results is not a problem per se (i.e., it doesn't put your graduation in danger or conflicts with other guidelines).

You shouldn't inform your advisor - you should talk to him before your continue. Preferably in person (don't you have to go to his university and present the results?), if that's not possible on the phone/videochat. Tell him about your plans and listen to what he has to say. I can imagine several different reactions:

  1. Maybe he wasn't providing little feedback because he didn't like your work but because there were other things consuming his time (other students to advise, restructuring of departments, private issues, whatever) and he would be happy to be your coauthor.
  2. He doesn't want to be your coauthor but is okay with you submitting the work single-authored (note that this does not necessarily mean he believes your paper is good enough to be published, maybe he thinks it's the fastest way to get rid of you).
  3. He doesn't want to be your coauthor and suggests you don't publish.

If he wants to be your coauthor - problem solved.

If he doesn't, I'd say your fine to proceed with single-author publication. But please seek advice from another professor/PhD/grad student - anyone experienced with publications in that field. I've seen master theses being published, but they were excellent, not just good ones, and it's certainly not a usual thing to do. Talk to an expert before you submit anywhere, seek guidance on whether your results are good enough for publication and what would be the correct venue to do so. It's little time to invest now, but a lot of time wasted if you just go ahead and get rejected.

  • 1
    I'll also note that sometimes the advisor doesn't provide feedback thinking that you are doing fine and not wanting to get in the way. Not necessarily the case here, of course.
    – Buffy
    Jun 27, 2019 at 11:27
  1. If someone contributed significantly to your research, you should offer them the chance to be an author on the journal or conference submission. They may or may not accept. Financial contribution (research performed in someone’s research group and hence using their resources) would nearly always count as significant, and usually (depending on the field) earn them first refusal on the last-author slot. Mentorship/supervision likewise—if you couldn’t have done it without them, or at least without someone playing the role that they ended up playing, then that counts.

  2. If someone is a co-author, you should have them at least “sign off” on the full version of the final content that you are submitting, because it is being submitted partially in their name and will reflect on them. Give them enough time to do so.

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