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I had a paper accepted at a conference and want to extend it with some new material based on the comments and submit it to a journal.

One of the co-authors was added to the conference paper because he was the head of the group where I was working. His contribution were textual suggestions to the manuscript. We have since split ways and he has no influence whatsoever in the extension. Again, he had little influence in the conference version and I added him mostly to avoid conflict, since these days people expect co-authorship based on their position.

Since he did not contribute neither to the conference version nor to the journal extension (and he has no position of authority over me anymore), I do not want to add him to the list of authors in the extended journal version. How acceptable/unacceptable is this?

  • 1
    You write "virtually had no contribution" which is crucially different from "literally had no contribution". – Roland Aug 20 '19 at 8:10
  • Beside him, Do you have other co-authors? Have you talked to them about it? what was their opinion? – seteropere Aug 20 '19 at 21:32
  • Yes, all colleagues at the same level as myself in the hierarchy. They're all against including the PI, they even didn't want me to include him in the conference version (as I said, I did it because of politics and because he was still there when the idea was being cooked -- by me). We all had problems in the past with the PI regarding undeserved authorships. – Jorge Jesus Aug 21 '19 at 8:10
  • Probably best to ask your other co-authors and garner their advice. The answer is mainly political rather than set in stone. – Poidah Aug 22 '19 at 5:25
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In all journals (CS/AI) I’ve worked with you need all authors of the conference paper(s) on which the journal version is based on to agree on the author list in the journal version. Some editors will just not allow a paper to be accepted before explicit consent has been obtained.

It is also unfair to an extent towards this professor. Think about this professor’s perspective: they may believe their contribution was much greater than just some textual edits, and once they realize that you submitted a version without their knowledge or consent, they’ll just email the editor and the paper will not go through to publication before it’s all sorted out.

I suggest you email the professor, tell them your plan, and whether they’d like to still be written as a coauthor. Most people would get the hint. Even if they’d still want to be included then there’s not much you can do about it: you should have established authorship in the conference version.

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Publish it under your name and those who provide actual assistance.

If that head has no input to this further paper and you are not part of that team or lab then they do not belong as an author.

This does not prevent you referencing the previous paper.

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    the extended paper will have about 70% of the content of the original (conference) paper, does this change your view? My dilemma is that this person might claim to have contributed to the conference paper and freak out because of not being in the extension. And of course I will cite the previous paper along the lines of "this paper extends the preliminary results published in [ref], by..." – Jorge Jesus Aug 19 '19 at 19:20
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    If th subsequent paper is 70% of the original then it does not sound like it is sufficiently different... I the original content is 30% then that seems more suitable, but that is my opinion. A subsequent paper should show marked progress from the original, but the editor may be ok with that. – Solar Mike Aug 19 '19 at 19:24
  • sorry my bad! I meant that 70% of the extended paper will be almost identical to the conference paper. The remaining 30% will be new material. – Jorge Jesus Aug 19 '19 at 19:57
  • @SolarMike 30% new material is standard for extended journal versions of CS conference papers. – JeffE Aug 21 '19 at 18:30
  • @JeffE so is that only CS, is the OP in CS? or another field, will 30% be relevant then? – Solar Mike Aug 21 '19 at 18:33
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This is an interesting question which has two aspects that I would like to address

  1. You awarded your old PI an authorship when it was not deserved.

While I understand your reasons for doing this, you should avoid doing this in the future. Instead you should always have a meeting with your coworkers where you discuss who should be first author, second author, etc. and who should contribute what. Ideally, the ordering of the authors should be settled well before first draft appears. If someone make a smaller or larger contribution than expected, then the ordering can be renegotiated.

This is though to pull off especially when the distribution of power is uneven, but try to take the lead: "I have this idea which I would like to develop into a paper. I think you are ideally suited to complete this important task. Do you have the time to make this contribution to a joint paper during the next two months?"

  1. It appears that you neglected to invite your old PI to contribute to the extended paper.

Again, while I can understand your reasons for doing this, a third party might view things differently. It is possible to argue that you have tried to deny your old PI credit for your past work. This is less of an issue if the new paper not only cites the old paper but make a new and very significant contribution.

Moreover, if your old PI has declined to collaborate citing, say, time constraints, then this issue evaporates completely.

Now in your current position I would cite the old paper and ensure that the new paper makes a new and very substantial contribution. I would only award authorship according to the criteria suggested by the ICMJE:

"Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND Final approval of the version to be published; AND Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged."

Visit the ICMJE website for additional information.

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