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Recently, based on my collaboration with someone else in our department, we submitted a paper to a highly reputed journal (IF ~ 8) and we received a minor revision a couple of weeks ago. My name in this article is the second author. The first author is a PhD student, who would be graduated next month, the third author is a professor from a national laboratory, and the last one is the PhD adviser of the first author.

From beginning of this project that lead to the submission of this article, I was involved in modeling and its details, input data preparation and output information interpretation, as well as reviewing the draft paper before submission. There was no problem at all before receiving the revision and the first author and his PhD adviser acknowledged and my contributions.

Today, I was informed by the first author that my PhD adviser that has nothing to do with paper at all, accused me that I didn't have any contribution to this paper and I don't deserve to be on the authors' list despite the fact that I had contribution in developing the model, gathering the input data and interpret and discuss the outputs as well as reviewing and revising the draft paper before submission. Even, the initial idea of the whole project was mine and I proposed it to the first author due to the fact that first author's area of expertise is not modeling or computational science.

I'm so angry (again!) and I don't know how to respond... The first author and his PhD adviser are in my side and they want to prepare a summary of contributions for all authors including me to close this case, but still I'm going to lose my mind. So my question: Is this possible to drop an author from authors' list of a paper after revision? What are my options at the worst scenario? Is it normal (of course it's not!) that somebody that has nothing to do with a paper question the contribution of a paper that is not published yet even?

  • This is very serious that it is your advisor making this claim. I think your only option is to deal with them. Other possible solutions, if there are any, are likely to do you more harm than good. Pretty hard to build a starting career if your advisor is a sworn enemy. – Buffy Mar 5 at 16:43
  • @Buffy Deal with who? My adviser? I'm really embarrassed in front of the first author and his PhD adviser that it is my my adviser that accusing who contributed what to a paper that has nothing to do with him... By the way, I'm not going to give up my legitimate right cause I think it's a really unethical act. – Alone Programmer Mar 5 at 16:45
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    Deal with your advisor. Convince him that you are a contributor. Or, if it is a question of resentment that you are working with others then you have a still bigger problem. It might require changing advisors. But this is a personal issue that you need to resolve. – Buffy Mar 5 at 16:48
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    Sorry, but I feel the need to vote to close this since the issue seems to be purely personal. – Buffy Mar 5 at 16:49
  • You need to go speak with your adviser immediately. It sounds like you and the person who should be most intimately involved in your academic progress are on completely different pages, which is very strange. – Jeff Mar 5 at 17:23
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Is this possible to drop an author from authors' list of a paper after revision?

Perhaps, but very very unusual. This should really never happen - the only case I can see reasonable is if someone was included as an author but either found their own contributions to be insufficient or disagreed with the publication and requested that they be removed from the list. It should definitely never happen when that person has a legitimate claim to authorship.

What are my options at the worst scenario?

I don't think it makes much sense to consider the "worst" scenario. The best scenario probably involves you finding a new advisor.

Is it normal (of course it's not!) that somebody that has nothing to do with a paper question the contribution of a paper that is not published yet even?

No, it is not normal for someone with no involvement in a paper to concern themselves with authorship issues for that paper, at any stage.


I don't see any reason to bother convincing your advisor. You cannot reason with someone to change a position that is not based on reason in the first place.

Given the pattern of issues you have had in the past (for example: Is this violation of academic integrity if I ask a question on Github public repository and post it as an issue? How to deal with an adviser that wants to force you to get his desired results?), your next steps should involve getting out of this situation in whatever way you can. This advisor is an advisor in name only, I cannot see a positive outcome if you stay with them.

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  • Dropping an advisor without a conversation seems too extreme. The OP could be giving up years of work. You are making assumptions without sufficient evidence. – Buffy Mar 5 at 19:54
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    @Buffy I'm basing it on the OP's question history here, too, which maybe I shouldn't do but it provides some pretty important context. This advisor seems to think they control all the behavior of their students and now when they have contributed to another project think they can deny them authorship. – Bryan Krause Mar 5 at 19:57
  • Ok. Thanks. I've withdrawn the vote. – Buffy Mar 5 at 20:04
  • The change of author should be possible, because there is a legitimate case. A revision might reduce one author's contribution to the point where an acknowledgement is more appropriate than co-authorship, but that sort of change would be with the agreement of all authors, and is not the case here. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 6 at 16:24

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