I work at a very large institution with multidisciplinary faculty and staff, and I was acquainted with someone (we'll call him Dr. StackExchange) by a close friend of mine for a collaboration prospect, as it was believed his input would be highly valuable. I allowed him to look over a manuscript over a novel idea, and he completely missed the point which was a little concerning regarding his proficiency. Moreover, his edits took away from the spin we wanted on our paper and made it very conservative (debased it to a topic that is relatively published as opposed to something novel). Nevertheless, I went ahead.

Later, Dr. StackExchange approaches me with the premise that they have an editor invitation for a topic that I have an expertise in, and if the manuscript is based on sound ground, it will be met with a positive reception. Excited, I dropped everything I was doing for the past few days to punch out a manuscript with data, and my trusted friends in the field are impressed. I e-mail this Dr. StackExchange a copy of the manuscript and inquire further on the nature of the invitation (APC, etc.) and it turns out this wasn't an invitation but merely thought that having a manuscript in this journal would be a good idea. Essentially this is an unsolicited manuscript, and I spent less time with my wife and family to crank it out by an artificial deadline.

Needless to say, I am livid and I do not want to collaborate with Dr. StackExchange for this false premise. They do not have substantial influence even though they are within my institution. We share a senior in common, but I have a great relationship with this senior that is mutually exclusive of this individual. Based on this person's preliminary text messages, he again wants to make edits that my group and seasoned researchers into this topic think are asinine. In terms of contribution, I would say I did roughly 88-92%, and my close friend who initially referred me to him did the rest. We place our senior on there as a PI after he gives his opinion. If I do not carry out Dr. Stackexchange's person's edits, ignore him, and send this paper to our senior as a PI, would it be inappropriate or unethical to exclude Dr. StackExchange as an author? In retrospect, he comes off as exploitative and I believe we have identified lower ranking students who have fled his projects.

I intend on carrying out this scenario, but I want to make sure I am not doing anything grossly unethical. My belief is simply if this person contributes 0% to a paper and he is not even ingratiating me with a receptive journal as a target...what does this person serve? Especially if they lied to me (this is not a "misunderstanding", initial e-mail correspondence explicitly states that there is an editor who asked him personally for a manuscript over this topic and it will be met with much anticipation if we submit before a certain date for an issue)

  • 1
    Most of the "question" is irrelevant complaints. If someone didn't contribute, you cannot make them a coauthor. – Anonymous Physicist May 17 at 4:32
  • I'm confused. I understand the idea of letting non-co-authors read a preliminary version of a paper to get their feedback, but why would you give someone who isn't already a co-author the right to edit your paper? – JeffE May 17 at 5:03

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