I have currently a disagreement with my advisor regarding the journal we should send our paper.

My advisor wants to send it to a very specialized journal with low impact factor, and to add a lot of details in the main text. On the other hand I believe the topic is of interest for several communities and want to push the jargon to the appendix, have a polished main text, and try high impact factor journals. Also I want to change fields after my PhD, so a good paper that my prospective boss could understand would be a plus.

He says he doesn't want to put in the effort for a high impact journal, and probably doesn't know also, and that he would prefer to spend his time reading a book or doing new stuff. (He is close to retirement)

I am willing to put in the effort to polish the paper alone, but still he is not satisfied.

For background, our previous paper was sent to a low IF journal, and was accepted immediately with minor revisions. For that paper also we had disagreements how much details to add in the main text and where to send it (and I stepped back). The result is that the gist of the paper got obscured, some big shots read the paper, cited it, but presented the result better, and now they get all the citations.

Similar things have happened to him more than once in the past.

How should I navigate this without offending him?

For the previous paper I stepped back, but now I cringe every time I read it. I feel that although he is smart, he doesn't really know how to communicate effectively, and he is also not interested to try. But this is something that I feel that I have, or at least I am willing to spend time to improve.

UPDATE from ~1.5 years later:

The outcome of this disagreement was initially very ugly, but down the road really helped me to become independent from a close-minded advisor.

From June 2021 until Dec 2021 I was trying to convince my advisor to submit to a non-predatory journal. He called me narcissist, arrogant, incompetent, threatened to remove his name from the paper, and tried to remove the guts of the theoretical part to make it seem unimportant and thus non-publishable to a serious journal (at the end he didn't manage to tie all ends with the simplified version and we returned back to the original). He was telling me that he prefers to spend his time reading a book in a cafe under the sun than working on my paper. I was only asking him to let me polish the paper alone and just TRY to send it to a reasonable journal.

In Aug. 2021 he tried to make throw away the nearly finished draft I had, and instead work on a new draft he sent me that he's spent max. 30 mins writing, while he was away for holidays. In Sep he didn't want to allow me to submit an extended abstract to a conference*, but I did (conference was online -so no costs etc. - only more visibility of our work). Similar for another conference that required only plain 1 paragraph abstract.

From Sep 2021 to Dec 2021, he was continuously delaying the submission by triggering me at the end of our weekly meetings by saying that we should send it to the predatory journal. Until my mother figured out that he was trying intentionally to trigger angry reactions from me and advised me to not react. I stopped reacting, cancelled our last meeting, went off contract, and tried to figure out what to do.

Due to these disagreements I had developed high-histamine issues (allergy like symptoms without an obvious trigger with sneezing, running nose and eyes, hives, migraines etc.) and was taking daily histamines to be able to function and work, which literally crippled me. I was able to only move to my desk, and had to try really hard to find strength to leave my apartment for the supermarket and for similar chores. By the end of the year I was literally burnt out.

After an extensive allergy test, my allergist suggested that my symptoms are due to sth that is causing tension in my life (e.g. my advisor), and that's where I figured out, that I had to finish my PhD thesis alone, apart from this toxic person, for the sake of my health.

After he thought I quit my PhD, we met online, and he had a sly smile, and agreed to submit to the journal I wanted. And it got accepted with only very small revisions. During the revisions he tried to make me write scientifically wrong statements in the paper (prob. to get that rejected). Same when I sent him drafts of my thesis. I finished everything alone, ignored his faulty corrections and submitted the thesis.

After the thesis submission he asked me to not go officially against him and rudely closed the call after trying again to trigger an angry reaction out of me without success. He delayed the defense as much as he could. Fortunately the defense went smoothly due to the support from the other members of the committee.

*In the past he has multiple times refused to let me submit work in conferences, claiming that he doesn't have time to work on this etc.

  • 2
    Is there some reason your advisor is on this paper? Jun 3, 2021 at 3:45
  • 2
    Is it possible to speak openly with him, and bring the other paper example without him being offended?
    – Alchimista
    Jun 3, 2021 at 8:01
  • @Aruralreader Well we work on something that was his idea. That is another issue because that was not really sth I wanted to work on, but came out from what we were doing and he insisted we publish that Jun 3, 2021 at 8:57
  • 2
    It is very important who is right. Maybe it's you, and maybe it is your supervisor. Impossible to judge without reading the paper.
    – Louic
    Jun 3, 2021 at 16:13
  • 2
    As discussed here, I have shortened the update. The shortening is a moderation action; please do not roll this back or edit it such that it becomes longer. However, within this length limit, you are welcome to make further edits if you like.
    – cag51
    Apr 25, 2023 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


Are you and your adviser the only two authors for this manuscript? If not, ask for the opinion of the other co-authors. Otherwise, it might be worth asking for the opinion of someone else in your research department: it could help you develop a better manuscript and convince your adviser without having to confront him. Only caveat: choose your external opinion wisely, someone that your adviser trusts but that will have an honest evaluation of your work.

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