I was in a manuscript which was not accepted in the first journal. They resubmitted it to an other journal and left me out without telling me a word. They reproduced my data with the protocol I gave them (what I developed actually) and now they are telling that my data were not used and I was not contributed enough to be a coauthor. They told it after I saw that the paper was published without me… The previous boss (who is in the manuscript but not working any more) promised me a few years ago that I will be a coauthor. What shall I do?

  • 19
    Just to make it clear to you: reproducing your data does not give them the right to remove you as a coauthor. Eg, if I prove a theorem, and my colleague reads my proof, and then recreates the proof, they can't go around claiming they proved that theorem and not attribute it to me. That is plagiarism.
    – Kimball
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 0:00
  • 3
    Hi, I am sorry to hear about that. I am not an expert, but just to say that if you are willing to contest this, I think the most precious evidence is that first rejected submission to a journal, with your name on the submitted paper -- which the first journal can confirm. If your coauthors published similar material afterwards without you mentioned as an author, and without your approval, this should be very clearly suspicious to anyone investigating this from the outside.
    – a3nm
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 9:09
  • 3
    Exactly this is what happened. They just replaced my experiments with theirs (they claimed they have found enough data on their own so they do not “need” my data) The result is the same. So in this version “I did not contribute enough” to be an author and there was “no reason to put me in”…I gave them my protocol a few years ago which they used but “sharing expertise is not a reason for a coauthorship, whit this reason they shoud include the whole institute to the author list” They just left me out behind my back without contacting me…
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 9:21
  • Just a clarification question without suggesting anything yet. What is the role of your data for the whole paper? I can imagine several levels: 1. The data is the very message of the paper; 2. The data is the starting point and therefore essential for subsequent analysis, but analysis is straightforward; 3. The analysis is non-trivial and data is merely used for the illustration of it; 4. Paper has multiple messages and the data is used to support one of them.
    – yarchik
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 14:58
  • It is not the main message but it was one of the starting points many years ago. I was thinking it would be interesting to measure, I developed a method and it worked. They worked a lot in the paper so the figure they used is a part of a figure. Therefore I did not exept something else but be in the middle in an unimportant position. But this would be important for me. They asked for my protocols and they reproduced my data. In the first version of the manuscript my data points were used. They just replaced them.
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 15:13

4 Answers 4


There are two avenues. The first is to complain to the journal's editors that you were improperly excluded. This might help or not.

The second is to complain to the administration (department or dean level) that academic misconduct has occurred in leaving you out. This might help or not.

But either of the above will make the problem more public, which will raise hackles among some, possibly helpful (or not). Be prepared for some blowback.

Also, enlist the help of the "previous boss" even if they aren't working anymore. In some situations such people will be listened to. I probably have some influence with my former employer even ten years after retirement, for example.

Your name here sounds female. I certainly hope this isn't another case of all too frequent sexism and the negation of the contributions of women.

  • 2
    Thank you for your comment. I tried to confront him that it was not ok to remove my authorship behind my back. He thinks “my data points” are not included (they reproduced my data) so he “did not have any reason” to keep my authorship… and yes, I am a woman…
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 21:00
  • 8
    Offensive that they did that. There have been a couple of instances at least where women didn't get Nobel Prizes but their supervisors did, based on the woman's work. And I think the situation was similar. Reproducing data doesn't imply that the intellectual contribution wasn't used, or how would they know what to reproduce. Good that you are elsewhere now, at least (if I read it correctly).
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 21:04
  • 6
    Great answer but I'm confused about the last paragraph. How do the 13th through 19th letters of the alphabet indicate sex? Did I miss something?
    – Sam Dean
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 11:43
  • 6
    @SamDean, an earlier name was originally used but changed for reasons of confidentiality.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 11:58
  • 2
    Thanks :-) the answers really helped me that I have the right to feel bad about the situation and do something about it. I wait a few days of the answer of my previous boss and if she ignores me I will go to the next step. Actually I dont think she will help, I lost a first place in a paper where I worked ca 80% and a coauthorship in a second paper during the years I worked there (because of “political reasons”) The only reason that I am still in science that I love research and the work itself.
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 15:04

As someone who has been through this situation myself, the way you respond will depend on how many bridges you are willing to burn.

If the author's university has a Research Integrity office (or similar), the best way of having it resolved is to contact them with a complete description of your claim, including any evidence or communications you have had with the authors. Most institutions will carry out an investigation (or at least, a preliminary investigation) for research misconduct and advise you of their findings. This process may take a long time.

However, this approach will almost certainly have the effect of ending any working relationships you have with the authorship team, so going down this pathway is one you should consider thoroughly.

  • Do you mind giving some details on the outcome of your case? This could be quite relevant to the question. Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 0:56
  • 1
    I lodged a formal complaint with the University. After 16 months (and being asked to submit some additional information) I received a notice saying my supervisor was found to have committed research misconduct, would be sanctioned, and they recommended the paper be retracted. My supervisor subsequently contacted the journal and requested retraction, but then left to a different institution. I contacted the journal directly and sent them the misconduct findings, they said they'd investigate. The paper remains online and unretracted to this day. :)
    – academiaTA
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 6:16
  • 1
    Sorry to hear that. I dont know if we have such an office. I contacted my previous boss who promised me to be a coauthor (I have the email where she promised) and I am waiting for the answer. Is it possible to include a coauthor after the manuscript is published? I do not want any bad for them, no retraction etc. I just want to be in the paper somewhere in the middle. This guy (who is a young boss now) was bullying me all the years I worked there, I think this is just a part of it. I hoped he changed the last years but apparently not…
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 6:53
  • Several journals have a procedure to change the author list after acceptance of publication. For instance name changes of authors are common after legal name changes (marriage/divorce/ or various other reasons). Add/removal of authors is also possible and publishers have a way to update the various databases.
    – ojfew owmx
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 17:31

The editor of the first journal that rejected could help: Fortunately for you if you wish to escalate, there is a clear paper trail here of your contribution that can be confirmed by the editor of the first journal. Having the editor of a similar journal in the same field confirming your allegations should go a long way into pressing the editors of the second journal to investigate and resolve the situation.

In practice, if I wished to escalate this, I would

  1. Write to the editor of the first journal to ask if they would be willing to confirm your authorship in the submission they handled; and if they would agree that you forward your correspondence with them on this matter to the editors.
  2. Once you have this, forward your email correspondence with the editor of the first journal to the editors of the second journal, with the senior authors of manuscript and the editor of the first journal in the CC field:
    • Pointing our that my research contribution on the protocol used in the published version of the manuscript;
    • Asking whether my name was had been somehow mistakenly forgotten from the author list of the published version, and how that could be fixed.

The paper trail is on your side here. As others haved said, you should be prepared that escalating this will annoy and possibly burn bridges with your senior coauthors: They will be caught red-handed by the editors of the two journals for misconduct. The idea of the phrasing of the second bullet is to give some space for your coauthors to save face by working towards adding your "forgotten" name to the published version.


The fact that they reproduced your data is irrelevant.

Please contact research integrity officers, or the equivalent, at the institutions where the authors in question work. Present your documented evidence.

If the work was funded by some funding agency contact them too. They care about good scientific practice.

Writing to the journal editor can also be useful. This adds publicity to the case and helps to make it known in your research community.

I would avoid any direct contact with the authors, dean, head of a department, etc (in this point I disagree with Buffy's answer). This will put you in the begging position with a frustrating outcome.

You said "I do not want any bad for them, no retraction, etc. I just want to be in the paper somewhere in the middle." Not very likely to happen, but do you really want to be surrounded by people who steal your results? A much more realistic goal would be to exert some pressure on them so that this does not repeat in the future.

  • I already contacted the last author who was a former colleague and he thinks it is ok what he did. I do not understand why they replaced my experiments with similar ones, why did it “hurt them” that I am on the paper. But my protocols were useful… He told that he did not get the email in which my previous boss promised me to be a coauthor. But she is on the manuscript and did not tell anything about that I am not on it. I am just very disappointed in mankind… I would not do the same with anyone in such a position…
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 8:26
  • @Mnopqrs As I said, do not contact them, do not beg. It will just make you frustrated. There are proper ways to resolve the situation. They are indicated above. Read this article: retractionwatch.com/2015/11/30/… Your situation is a bit different, but the strategy is the same.
    – yarchik
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 8:59
  • @Mnopqrs I do not think it is a good idea. Of course, there could be a lot of other circumstances, like you are being a good friend of the director, or the director already being extremely dissatisfied with them. Other than that I do not see any reasons to contact the director. You still have two more options which I mentioned.
    – yarchik
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 10:27
  • I will contact one of the editors of the journal. I have found someone in the website who is living in the same country where I am now.
    – Mnopqrs
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 10:33
  • @Mnopqrs It is ok, but I do not see any particular reason for your choice. Why not the editor-in-chief or lead editor?
    – yarchik
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 10:41

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