I am in a masters program (mathematics) and I have written a paper with my supervisor. My supervisor taught me the whole general procedure of finding papers to start with, methods of research and writing papers etc. I have learned so much from him but what I have learned has all been about how to do research. In contrast, the mathematics content of the paper is not within his area of expertise, and he has done almost nothing! Now he wants me to put his name as a the first author on our joint paper.

1- If I reject his demand, I will get a low grade for my thesis because he is a jerk, and thus my chance of being accepted for a good university will be reduced dramatically. I live a country where no one can object to their teacher's grading!

2- If I comply with his demand I will be a second author, and again, my chances of being accepted at a good university will be reduced dramatically.

Added after @Allure's comment: There are similar questions asked on this site but they discuss such things as whether the advisor's demands are right or not, and what actions should be taken. As I stated, I live in country where there can't be a powerful objection against a bullying professor, so my question "What should I do?" still remains because of my special situation.


2 Answers 2


What kind of graduate program are you trying to get into? In pure mathematics and many parts of applied mathematics and theoretical computer science, no one cares about author order, and the convention is that authors are listed alphabetically. So, I’m not entirely sure, but I think you may have some misconceptions about the reasons for your advisor’s request to be listed first, and/or the effects that your being listed second would have on your academic career.


There could be many reasons as to why your advisor wants to be listed as the first author, i.e. for reasons of funding. There may also be certain conventions to consider here, e.g. that a prof. is expected to be listed as the main author, or that alphabetical order is used generally. The bottom line of what I am trying to say is that there may be very good reasons for him to want to be listed as the first author that you don't know about or haven't even considered yet.

If it really is such a big problem for you, you should in any case talk openly about it with your supervisor so that he can give you his reasoning. If it would be common in your field, you could also try to negotiate a shared authorship with him. If you tell him your reasons, he might be open to that as well.

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