Recently, I found that my friend published two journal papers. He listed my name as a co-author without my permission.

He used to send me a draft of the 1st paper, and wanted to add me as a co-author. After reading the manuscript, I found that this paper has a lot of serious problems. Thus, I told him that he needs to address these issues, and tell me how to solve them before submission. However, he submitted anyway, and did not tell me. In this final version, some major concerns have not been addressed yet. I am the 4th author of this paper.

The 2nd paper is about XXX. I clearly told him that I do not want to do any XXX-related research due to my religious belief. However, he added my name on this paper without my consent. I am the 6th author of this paper.

The editors of these two journals are his friends. Thus, he listed me as co-author since he wants to increase the global impact of these two journals. These two journals are not good. Thus, they did not send me emails about the co-authorship while submission.

As a co-author, I will be responsible for the content that I published. In my opinion, the 1st paper does not meet the academic standard. The 2nd paper is against my belief. I really do not want to be a co-author of these two papers.

Can anyone tell me what I shall do next? Since these two papers have been published, can I contact the editors to remove my name from these papers? Or even withdraw these two papers? Will this ruin my friend's academic life?


Thanks a lot for your help. I really appreciate!

If I withdraw these two papers, will there be some bad records online, e.g. records which show that my two papers have been withdrawn. Or can I just report that I am not the author of these two papers on pubpeer?

Thanks again!


My friend has contacted the editors. My name has been removed from these two papers.

Thanks a lot for your answers and suggestions. I realy appreciate!

  • 27
    It's not exactly plagiarism. It's more like fraud, since the other person is claiming you did something you did not.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 17:50
  • 4
    How were these papers published without the consent of all authors? Are they in real journals? Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 19:35
  • 8
    @emory Erm, yes? The OP said they "are not good," which is not the same as "completely fraudulent." Are they saying their friends the editors completely bypassed the consent part? Or it was faked? Or the journal never had it? Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 21:07
  • 17
    @AzorAhai I think most journals operate under the honor principle. If the corresponding author says that all authors consent, then the editor accepts that at face value. Of course, this is open to abuse. This stackoverflow post suggests the possibility of dead coauthors (academia.stackexchange.com/questions/116845/…) for which active consent is impossible.
    – emory
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 21:18
  • 4
    These two journals are not good. Thus, they did not send me emails about the co-authorship while submission. In my experience, it's rare even for good journals to email all the co-authors during submission. They usually only liaise with whoever submitted it. Some papers have over a thousand authors, it'd be unfeasible to email them all.
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 23:27

2 Answers 2


Your academic standing should be your primary concern, so if the quality of paper 1 is so poor contact the editor(s) and get the paper withdrawn or your name removed.

For paper 2 if it offends your beliefs such that you want to be disassociated with the paper, again contact the editor(s) and get the paper withdrawn or your name removed.

You have to decide if the issues warrant your subsequent actions, we cannot decide, but worrying about the effect on your "friend" is secondary.

  • 40
    Good use of scare quotes; I'd question whether the "friend" here is really a friend. They seem to be using OP.
    – bob
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 16:28
  • 6
    To supplement this answer, I'd suggest trying to get some office at your current institution to back you up on a withdrawal. A sternly worded letter from a university attorney might do wonders. Maybe a letter to the other author as well as the journal.
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 19:52
  • 4
    From the question it seems likely that the journal is quite shady... so it might need addressing what to do if the journal isn't cooperating after the OP contacted them for a withdrawal.
    – vsz
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 5:05
  • 2
    In both cases the author is entitled to ask for their name to be removed. But there aren't sufficient grounds to ask for either paper to be withdrawn entirely - plenty of papers are poor quality or conflict with certain people's beliefs. They don't get withdrawn just because someone (including an inappropriately-listed author) points this out. The appropriate remedy there is to publish a rebuttal via a letter to the editor or a subsequent paper - i.e. standard scientific debate. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 23:11
  • 3
    Your answer is great. An answer from me would be the same, except for removing the "get the paper withdrawn" phrases. So rather than posting a competing, almost identical, answer, I suggested what I think is an improvement to yours. Accept or reject as you see fit. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 23:22

This is serious scientific misconduct

You should contact the editors for these two journals, and ask for a retraction or even a withdraw.

Then you send your case to Retraction Watch for further impact.

  • 9
    I'm not saying it's not a scientific misconduct but there are couple things here to clarify. First, I think it's better to just withdraw the article instead retraction if that's possible. It may not be possible which makes the situation really unfortunate. Cause that record for retraction will remain online forever and even if OP is completely innocent here and is just the victim of his/her friend, this retraction still makes OP's record awry. Also, you suggest OP should send his/her case to Retraction Watch! Why?! To make bad reputation for himself/herself? Why?! There is no reason for that. Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 22:40
  • 7
    Why a retraction rather than a name removal?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 14:33
  • 5
    @AdamO: A "author names change" is a perfectly valid retcon. In fact, I've known this to happen in the past (albeit in a conference that's semi-industry semi-academic).
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:59
  • 2
    Do NOT publicize at Retraction Watch unless you want to ruin your public profile or academic record. Why to draw more attention to your name connection to a retracted paper? Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 13:06
  • 2
    it is not uncommon for papers to be retracted due to author fraud. I would hope that institutions would be more discerning than to simply judge by the mention of one's name in an article on RetractionWatch, disregarding all context.
    – Him
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 17:28

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