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The background: I work in a quite narrow field in physics. Recently I submitted a comment on a published paper. Before doing this I discussed my remarks with the authors directly and they gave me some interesting suggestions and comments. In the end they suggested to publish as a rapid communications instead of a comment. However, I was more convinced that it was something it should be corrected and replied that I find a comment more suitable (assuring them this is of course nothing personal). However, a bit after this my doctoral advisor said: "feel free to submit but please remove my name (you can acknowledge me for useful discussions and proofreading)". I have a feeling this is related to the fact that he has some limited contact with the authors.

My questions: Did I make the right decision of submitting? Will there be any consequences in the future (regarding Refereeing). I really have nothing personal against they authors (which are in fact very competent authors who have published many interesting works).

I would like your opinions on this situation.

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  • What's a promoter? (I assume a co-author with some special role.)
    – user2768
    Jan 29 '20 at 9:14
  • Doctoral advisor :).
    – Feynman007
    Jan 29 '20 at 9:16
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Yes you made the right decision of submitting a comment to the paper. Publicly commenting papers happens much too rarely, for reasons that may be at least partly technical. (Compare publishing your comment to writing here at StackExchange in terms of time and effort.)

As for future consequences, nobody knows. But if your comment is good, journals editors could get the idea of soliciting you for reviewing papers.

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my doctoral advisor said: "feel free to submit but please remove my name (you can acknowledge me for useful discussions and proofreading)"

Co-authors may remove themselves for many reasons, e.g., they don't feel that co-authorship is merited, they aren't confident in the results, ... You cannot infer their removal is "related to...contact with the authors [whom you critique]." Given that your advisor has suggested an acknowledgement (for their contribution) will suffice, I suspect they don't feel co-authorship is merited. But, you'll only know for sure by asking your advisor.

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  • I do not really have a problem with the fact that he asked this (since he gave interesting comments I could implement). However, I had a very similar situation two years ago with him and then he responded totally different, e.g. supporting the discision. The only difference was that back then he did not have any contact with those authors.
    – Feynman007
    Jan 29 '20 at 9:24
  • As far as I can follow: You don't have a problem with him removing himself as co-author, but previously he didn't remove himself (in similar circumstances), so now you think there's a greater problem. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't: Ask him.
    – user2768
    Jan 29 '20 at 9:52
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    What this suggests to me is that you need to have more conversations with your adviser about their motives. If you don't understand why they didn't want to be an author, how can you learn from this? Jan 29 '20 at 14:41
  • Thanks for your reply. I asked him directly but he gave really conficting reasons (one time he said it is too much and i should write a paper and onother time he said the comment is not enough, which is weird since it was more substantial then in the previous case). It is sometimes very difficult to understand his motives for some of his actions. :)
    – Feynman007
    Jan 30 '20 at 8:27
  • @Feynman007 Saying "it is too much" and advising to "write a paper" might suggest that the advisor preferred a different (longer) publication format and that they were uncomfortable to put their name to a shorter piece. Saying "the comment is not enough" could be the same reason, that is, the advisor might again be advocating for a longer piece.
    – user2768
    Jan 30 '20 at 8:39

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