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I have a 14 page draft sitting there for a year now, which I wrote exclusively. For my work I used specific hardware, which my supervisor got me access to so I cannot take his name off the paper. I have been asking him countless times to review/comment on it, but all he says is that he's busy and he'll look at it when he has time. He doesn't consent to submitting it anywhere, not even on arxiv, since he's 'not convinced of the current state'. I asked two external researchers in the field who flagged minor issues with figure captions or some clarifications, but other than that said that 'it is well written'. My supervisor is oldschool, tenured and doesn't care if something takes years to publish. Submitting without his consent could leave a bad impression on editors if my supervisor intervenes. I changed to industry after my PhD (one year ago), so it's not like I desperately need it on my publication record, but I do feel that I would like to showcase my work. The only way forward I see currently is to take the main idea of the paper and re-write it without the hardware implementation, so that I don't have to put his name on it. Of course this will take time. Is there another way?

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  • I don't see why the hardware gives him authorship. If someone at the upcoming Olympics sets a world record while they're using my skis, I don't win the gold medal.
    – Dave
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:37
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    Kicking him off the paper would be even worse than submitting without his consent I feel like. Not sure that's an option...
    – biphasic
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:53
  • Why not? he shouldn't have been on there in the first place. No one but you needs to know that you used to have his name listed.
    – Dave
    Feb 1, 2022 at 16:01

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The odds are unfortunately not in your favour. I can think of two options besides what you are already thinking:

(1) Try to make it sound as if he can get something out of it. Then offer deadlines, cite your reasons for urgency. Perhaps you can say that this paper will open new pathways for your collaboration where you can secure another funding for both of you -- you don't have to, but a convincing offer might get him started.

(2) In some institutions, there are ombudsmen or spokesperson who handle such academic collaboration cases. They may contact this person on a subtle note, asking that they are concerned about the status of your work. Do not take this option lightly.

Since you are an ex-student, I do not think he will bother much about it. If both the above fail in the next 6 months, and you have made sure he has not used that work anywhere else (which you should definitely complain against), you should go ahead with your idea of re-writing. Do not submit anything without his consent, this will put the ball badly in your court.

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  • Thanks a lot for your comment. I think I'll wait a bit more to see if really nothing moves. At the end he does want to see the work published, it's just that he feels like he needs to put his stamp on it and that he simply doesn't make time for it. If it doesn't happen I'll rewrite it, potentially even improving on the original idea.
    – biphasic
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:40
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You've spent enough time on asking him.

You have made the suggested corrections and clarifications, I take it ? So now just send notice of submission for publication to your old supervisor and CC the letter to the Head of Department. Owing to the lack of response from your ex-supervisor, you must say that you will enter it on your own name alone as author - though you will acknowledge the supervisor's assistance with hardware provision.

I'm sure that you'll get a response from the ex-supervisor then.

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  • Thanks for your comment. While I agree that I would like to do this, I think it would put me in a bad position. The editor of the journal that I'd like to submit to has close ties to my current company and I would not like him to witness any mud-slinging. I did think of contacting him and explaining the situation to him, although I doubt that he will make much of my situation when there is an established prof on the other end.
    – biphasic
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:44
  • I beg to point out that you and the professor are professional colleagues even if not academic colleagues or academic peers. The work is largely yours. You have a right to independent editorship when this paper is being considered. But if this is not obtainable, then you can take it to another reasonably well-regarded journal which is not linked to your ex-professor or you.
    – Trunk
    Feb 1, 2022 at 17:47

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