I have a three-part question:
First, if I am the first author of a research manuscript, as previously discussed with, and agreed by, both the second author and corresponding author(s), then due to some concerns about the paper content, am I legally allowed to unilaterally decide to delay publication (to edit the results presented in the paper), or in the worst case scenario, to not publish if I am not satisfied with the new results obtained?
This question arises when both the second author and the principal investigator hope to rush with the publication, despite my objection to the current manuscript. For this specific paper, my contribution is in running simulations and obtaining the data, while the second author's contribution lies in part of the paper-writing, including explaining the graphs and data I've obtained. This essentially means the research cannot be split in half, where the second author publishes his/her part and I publish mine separately.
Secondly, in response to my attempt to delay the publication until the manuscript is edited to a satisfactory standard, the principal investigator, my professor, asked/threatened to have me removed from the position of the first author, and instead make me the second author, if I delay publication. In doing so, both my professor and second author plan to bypass me in the publication process. Is this legally allowed? My professor's official reasoning is that, after a thorough examination, he found my contribution to be insufficient to be the first author. My problem with this explanation is that three months ago, I still hold the position of the first author, but three months later, when the second author presses for publication, somehow my work is deemed insufficient.
Lastly, any suggestions on my course of action when both aforementioned situations arise?
Update/further questions: My principal investigator has tried to remove me from the position of the first author (as previously agreed to) to simply "acknowledging" my effort. Is this allowed, and just research malpractice? My guess is the PI really wants to have the paper published, and if I get to veto as an author, then I can't be an author anymore. What should I do in this case?