I worked briefly with Person A from a different university on a project in a competition. We were both PhD students. In this competition, our concept was based on combining mainly a system he developed before the competition and a device that I developed, also before the competition. Except for raising this combined concept, we didn’t do any actual testing or evaluation for this combined concept.
Since last year, I have also invited him to help analyze some data collected from a study of mine. I also invited two other researchers (Person B and Person C) from complementary backgrounds and who are more senior to help with the analysis. We have all agreed that all four of us will be co-authors for the final paper. We are coming to the final stage of our paper writing at this moment. Person A only knows Person B and Person C through my introduction in this case.
I have just received a notification email from a submission system that a paper was accepted to a conference. I entered the system to find the submitted version of the paper. It is a write-up of the concept of that competition. I would say 90% is based on Person A’s existing system. He has put me as a co-author. More strangely, he has also put Person B and Person C as co-authors. However, I doubt if Person B and Person C have ever heard of this project.
I found it very uncomfortable, as I am not comfortable to be associated with a concept and claim that haven’t been sufficiently evaluated. I know Person A cares greatly about the number of his publications. In fact, this is not the first time he did this. Last year, I came across a similar situation, and I successfully asked him to withdraw that paper (as that paper contains a large part of my work), which made him extremely upset. I hesitate this time, as the current paper of my study is very important for me and it has already been through several delays including serious illness of one co-author and COVID-19. I do not wish to upset him and negatively impact his work on the last stage of the current paper, which I have poured so much time and effort in. However, I felt it is unethical to include other people’s names without consent.
Note: This paper in question is mainly based on his system, which is a different discipline and it is beyond my capability to verify the system. However, where it combines the concept brought by my device, there is no evaluation at all, so it is an empty claim. On the other hand, it could be that he includes me as a co-author as a courtesy though I feel I have only contributed conceptually.
I literaly don't know what to do.
Edit: I also realise that, if I accept that my name remain co-author, then as co-author, should I be responsible to inform Person B and Person C, or require Person A to remove their names?