Long story short. I was the first author of a research manuscript submitted but rejected previously. I am the main contributor of all stages of the research from planning and research question to running the entire analysis, writing up the report and manuscript, and presentation. Since I left my previous job, someone took over. However, it was the unspoken assumption that I would be still the first author for the next journal submission. When I received the slightly changed manuscript which is primarily based off of my original manuscript, I found out that I was pushed into the second author position. What are my options?

I am going to confront my previous team since the current first author only oversaw the research at high level and has not written neither the first nor the second manuscript. I feel putting this person as first author is an offense of academic integrity and ethical standards. Do I have the authority to block the publication of this manuscript if this is not resolved justly?

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    Before "confronting", I would try to find an amicable return to the old agreement. Once you "confront", returning back to a mutually agreeable conversation may not be possible. That does not mean that confrontation is not an option, but it's definitively up the escalation ladder. Aug 13, 2021 at 12:14
  • A good reminder for future readers to make sure plans for papers are explicit when you leave a position. Aug 13, 2021 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


Technically, yes. All authors must signal they are happy for a paper to be published before it can be submitted. Some journals will require specific acknowledgement of this from each author, others rely on the communicating author to accept this on behalf of the other authors.

So in theory, you could just say "I will not authorize the publication of this paper until I am first author". If they submit it anyway, you can write to the journal and say "I am not happy for this paper to be published with me as an author". Don't say why, because almost all journals have a policy on not weighing in on authorship disputes. Just say, I am an author, and I don't agree with it being published.

There are several risks to this. The primary one is that you are removed from the authorship list entirely. This, in theory, would be a pretty outrageous case of academic misconduct, but your only recourse would be to complain to the communicating author's institution, and try to get them to start a misconduct investigation. This would probably be long, protracted, bruising for all involved and would be far from guaranteed to find in your favour.

  • I did upvoted. I won't to add that it happens often. Albeit not very ethical, it can have practical reason. OP: If you feel that Academia isn't in your scope, you could let it be... But my answer would be more or less like this one. Perhaps I would add that you can try to fix it with the group. They might just have assumed that first coauthorship is not as much important for you, at this stage. Let them know isn't the case.
    – Alchimista
    Aug 13, 2021 at 10:17
  • To summarize, there are three options. Someone can relent so all agree. They can continue the discussion. Any of them can block the paper. But they need to agree if they want it published.
    – Buffy
    Aug 13, 2021 at 11:47

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