While (informally) discussing some recent updates, I said something along the line : "My paper about ... is published in ..." when I am actually the third author. I contributed to the paper during research internship, where grad student (mentoring me) did large portion of the work but I did contributed enough for everyone to agree that I should be on the author list.

On my way home, I kind of wondered that is it weird or even look 'intentionally misleading' to refer "my paper" while I am not the first / primary author of the paper? Is this normal among academics? How should I refer to the paper I participated little?

  • 6
    You can't go wrong with "our paper" ...
    – user9482
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 8:38
  • 1
    @Roland Thanks. That sounds much better than whatever I was thinking. However, if I am no longer working with coauthors of that paper - wouldn't it be somehow ambiguous (though I am not sure if this is actually a concern) since it sounds like my current colleagues have been working together on that? (I am just asking about customary expressions, especially in English)
    – 72G
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 8:46
  • If "our paper" could be misunderstood, be more specific: "The Smith et al. (2022) paper".
    – user9482
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


In an informal conversation you are probably fine, but for anything formal, make it more accurate that you were "an" author, not "the" author. Don't leave an improper impression for anything important.

But it is probably better if you qualify it always. "I'm an author of a paper that discusses/settles..." It is only a few extra words. "I contributed to ...". "My colleagues and I produced..." "Our working group...".

  • Thanks for the answer :)
    – 72G
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 2:48

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