I recently graduated from my PhD program. To put things into prespective I need to mention that I, unfortunately, don’t have a good relationship with my adviser. I currently have one under review paper with my adviser. We received the reviewers’ comments for this paper. However, I don’t have time to work on this paper anymore.

Recently, my adviser asked the area editor to extend the deadline. When I asked her to forward this email to me, she insistently refused to forward the email.

Can my advisers publish this work without my consent? Can they remove my name from the paper given the fact that I will not work on this paper anymore? How do I need to communicate this with area editor if at all?

  • Ethically your name can't be removed. But they need proper information to implement that idea.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 20:23
  • What if I explicitly say I cannot work on this paper anymore. Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 20:25
  • If you did work on it, and your work appears in it, then you are an author. And, in fact, your permission is needed to publish it. But some people are dishonest and will cut corners. But if the editor knows, then you have some protection.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 20:27
  • Yes. This is from my dissertation. My dissertation covers the most of this paper. I am the first author of this paper. Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 20:28
  • Do you think I need to bring this to AE attention? Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


It is usually quite difficult to remove a person from the list of authors after a manuscript has been submitted. In fact it is not always possible to change the ordering of authors in the author listing.

I would think that any such drastic changes as removing an author when revisions are made would automatically raise flag with the editor and the journal.

Moreover, any submission or re-submission is normally expected to be done with the consent of all the authors.

So: it probably opens very many cans of worms for your supervisor to try to publish without your consent or your name. Ditto for the journal concerned: while it may not be so easy for them to verify the consent, the removal of an author would be clear to them, and would open them to legal action.


Can my advisers publish this work without my consent?

No. But why would you refuse it? Just to harm your supervisor? That seems petty. You have nothing to gain by sabotaging her and throwing away months or years of work for both of you.

If the problem is that you have no time to work on the paper anymore, just write that to her. She might be happy to finish the work herself.

Can they remove my name from the paper given the fact that I will not work on this paper anymore?

No. Assuming your past contribution was substantial, you are rightfully an author.

It would be a major faux pas for her to try to get it published without your name. You'd have every right to complain and ask for retraction, and plenty of evidence from your dissertation (if what you write is correct). That sounds like major academic misconduct. Her reputation, and possibly also her job, would be at stake.

How do I need to communicate this with area editor if at all?

What do you wish to communicate exactly? Are you afraid that she is going to remove you from the list of authors? That seems an unreasonable concern to me. (See above.)

  • I perhaps did not phrase it properly. What I meant really is if they can publish without my name and without my consent. I would gladly accept if they publish it with my name even without my consent :) Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 23:48

Let me try to capture the comments in an answer.

If you work on something and your work appears in a paper, then, ethically, you are an author of the paper and no one can, properly, deny that.

If you are an author of a paper, then, ethically, your permission is needed to publish it.

Those are the accepted rules, but they are sometimes broken. I don't know how much you trust your advisor to behave properly. Most will, but some will try to cut corners and a few are unethical. Sometimes that arises from desperation to publish themselves.

I find it odd (disturbing) that the advisor won't let you see the email from an editor. This is a red flag. But asking to extend the deadline isn't problematic in itself. Perhaps the advisor thinks the paper needs more work or is hoping to get your participation.

In many ways it would be better if you don't drop out of the project altogether, but suggest that other commitments require you to spend minimal time on this one. That keeps you connected, at least, but doesn't require a big commitment. Thoughts more than time, perhaps.

But if you truly feel at risk and don't feel you can trust the advisor, then reminding the editor of the facts of the case might be wise. Don't make accusations, but just note to the editor that the work is based on your dissertation and that, properly, you are an author with an interest in the work.

Also, if you are not in academia or have switched fields, then it would also be wise to give permission to publish as long as you remain a co-author and approve of the work generally.

But also note that if the work has been extended, and the main results are no longer yours, then you might not have a claim at first authorship of the result. That may matter only a little or a lot, depending on your current situation.

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