I received my MSc. in 2020. Subsequently, I wrote a paper on the same topic of my MSc. dissertation. Initially, I was going to publish it with my advisor and co-advisor, and the work dynamics was that I first made substantial changes to the paper and then asked them for feedback. Our problem started when feedback started to take too long and reached a point where my co-advisor didn't answer anymore. She didn't seem too interested in it, and, honestly, the results are underwhelming compared to her average publication quality. Thus, I understood her position and didn't insist on her participation anymore. Meanwhile, I started my Ph.D. in 2021 and started working in a different area with another researcher at my university.

My advisor was slightly more available during the above events, but eventually, he also forgot about my work. I was disappointed, and I didn't want to give up on this work even though it isn't a top-tier paper, so I asked a friend, another Ph.D. candidate, for help. We gathered new data, obtained new results, and made significant changes to the paper. A month ago, we finally submitted it and put my advisor and co-advisor in the acknowledgments for giving feedback on early versions of the paper.

Today, my advisor sent me an email saying that we should reach out to my co-advisor again and try to rewrite the paper.

In resume, the timeline is as below,

  • 2019: I conceived the idea of using my co-advisor methodology to analyse data from my country and wrote my dissertation about it.
  • 2020-01/2020-05: Early drafts
  • 2020-12: Sent a conceivably final version and received no answer.
  • 2021-04: I sent another email, and the co-advisor answered it and vanished for months.
  • 2021-09: On the last attempt at communication, I got a brief reply, but my co-advisor disappeared again when I sent her the last version of the paper.
  • 2022-03: My friend joins in, and we finish the paper.
  • 2022-05: Advisor asks about the paper.

There was no ill intent on my side, I just thought they weren't interested in my work anymore and I wanted to submit it as soon as possible to start working on my thesis.

How should I talk to him? If he asks for co-authorship, what should I do? I'm okay with that but how the journal will perceive this (The paper is still under review)?

1 Answer 1


As you have described it, it was probably inappropriate to remove your advisors. "How to talk to him" (and her!) depends on the personalities involved.

I'm okay with that but how the journal will perceive this (The paper is still under review)?

It doesn't really matter, you should put your MSc advisors back on. You can give a little white lie about accidentally omitting them the first time. It will not end your career to add an author. No one will know except the action editor, who doesn't really have time to care.

  • I'm relieved. He's really a pretty nice guy and I don't want to ruin my relationship with him. I just felt he was massively delaying the paper. I had to gather new data about three times to update the paper and make it publishable again and it was becoming cumbersome, this waiting-and-recycling loop. May 5, 2022 at 16:44
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    @BelwarDissengulp I just edited because I realized I misunderstood who was who. Unfortunately, being a slow responder is not a reason to remove someone from authorship. That is just how writing papers goes. May 5, 2022 at 16:45
  • Sorry, her=co-advisor, him=advisor. I get that some people are slow responders, but it was taking so long (months even) that the data was becoming outdated and making the paper less publishable. May 5, 2022 at 16:51
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    @BelwarDissengulp Again, that's cause for a conversation, not silently deleting them as authors. May 5, 2022 at 17:23

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