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My research supervisor has asked me if he can submit a paper on my work to a journal.

I just want to know how that works. Do I get authorship if he is the sole writer of the paper, even though it is my research?

As my supervisor, I would include him as a co-author on any paper I published as I have relied a lot on his guidance and used his intellectual property to form my paper, but does it work the other way around? We have worked together throughout my degree to come up with the idea and brainstorm directions to take the research. We also co-wrote one paper together, based on my research. But I have done the literature review and primary research (interviews) myself and I have completed some analyses and still working on the rest, so my thesis is a work-in-progress.

So how does it work if he submits the paper to the journal based on the research for my thesis? When I have tried to read about this online, it mostly says authorship depends on who has contributed the most. But if he writes the whole paper himself based on my work, but I don't actually contribute any writing to the paper he submits, should I expect to get credited as an author? And if so, should I be first author as it is my research?

Also is this normal practice?

Edit* when we discuss this, should I request to be first author? I don't want to ask to be first-named author if that isn't normal practice or if it is unreasonable of me to expect to be. Is it normal to be second author if someone else writes the whole thing, even if it is based on my work? Or should I expect to be first author still?

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    Specifying the field might be helpful. What kind of involvement is grounds for authorship can be highly field-dependent.
    – Stef
    Apr 7 at 10:54
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    Maybe he took your authorship for granted, maybe not, have you asked him?
    – Miguel
    Apr 7 at 15:26
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    Is this your supervisor? academia.stackexchange.com/questions/183966/… Apr 7 at 21:14
  • @user3067860 no, my supervisor hasn't encouraged me to submit to the journal before, he has now just asked if he can do it.
    – Lily
    Apr 8 at 11:10

3 Answers 3

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Yes, if it is your work, you are an author and should be acknowledged as such. But you probably want to stay in the loop in the writing, or at least in the editing. Whether you are first author or not depends on some things, including your field and on the content of the paper.

It would be an ethical lapse to exclude you if your intellectual contributions are the subject of the paper.

Offer to contribute to the production of the actual paper. Ideas, outlines, editing, writing sections, ...

Authors are not, primarily, the people who have their hands on the keyboard. It is the people whose ideas are discussed. So, a proper answer to his question is "Sure, with my assistance."


You didn't mention the possibility, but I'm wondering if he wants to write a summary paper of the work of several people, including yourself. If that is the case then it might work a bit differently than if it is only your work. But in that case the bunch of you should get together with the supervisor and work out authorship issues.

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    To add to this, you joining the writing process would be a valuable lesson in technical/scientific writing and is something you'd like to learn I guess. Authorship is not solely based on who wrote the article, but the work encompassed in it. Writing, lab work, theorizing, etc.
    – DakkVader
    Apr 7 at 7:38
  • what do you think should make me first author then? even if I do contribute to writing the paper, but he is the one who submits it, should I be the first author as it is on my work or should he as he is mainly writing/submitting it?
    – Lily
    Apr 8 at 11:15
  • That is field dependent, but in general, the one that has the most fundamental contribution. Sadly, there is no objective way to measure that. It is why, in pure math and theoretical CS we prefer alphabetical listings.
    – Buffy
    Apr 8 at 11:17
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I just want to know how that works. Do I get authorship [...]

Discuss it explicitly with your supervisor.

If you browse this SE for authorship disputes (and phrases like "should I be the author..."), you will find how many people got burnt by trying to sidestep this. There is no good reason not to ask.

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Probably we are missing an important piece of information in the question. In general, supervisors write papers together with their students. The students are the experts on their field, why exclude them? Then they are naturally authors.

This might be different, if the supervisor writes a chapter for a book or some broader article, where your work is only a tiny fraction of what he is writing. Then he should cite your published work (or cite you with personal communication or add you to the acknowledge section).

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