I'm a recent master's graduate and I've been working on a journal article based on my master's thesis findings. I have never published before so I am entirely new to the process. My supervisor has agreed to publish with me, but is unresponsive to emails, late to meetings, and generally unhelpful with this whole process. It makes me feel uncomfortable because essentially I am allowing them to put their name on my work in exchange for publishing open access, since I am no longer a member of the university. In the beginning I welcomed this opportunity because I thought I would be able to learn something, but I've found myself to be completely alone in this. They haven't contributed anything expect very basic supervision, if that. All ideas were my own. I'm at a loss for how to proceed.

  • Do you actually need their help, other than the financial support of their institution? Giving up "open access" is an option at lower (possibly not zero) cost to the author(s).
    – Buffy
    Nov 3, 2022 at 13:11
  • Thank you for the response. That's a great question, and in truth, I don't. I wrote my thesis with minimal (almost no) supervision, and I'm learning as I go with this. At the core of the issue, is wanting to expedite the publication process to help with my PhD applications, as I've chosen a journal with rapid peer review. Although now I'm considering to change this.
    – qwerty6392
    Nov 3, 2022 at 13:32
  • Which field is this? Nov 3, 2022 at 14:56
  • @gnometorule Thank you for the feedback. I completely agree about the importance of explaining the significance of the paper, and "selling it" correctly to the journal. However, at the moment it seems that I will be writing the cover letter to the journal editors myself. I am happy to acknowledge supervision, but contribution seems too much when all ideas were solely my own (theoretical direction, choice of methodology, analysis etc.) , and the only time I received any feedback on my work, was after I submitted the thesis to be marked.
    – qwerty6392
    Nov 3, 2022 at 15:07
  • @user2705196 The field is within the social sciences.
    – qwerty6392
    Nov 3, 2022 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


If the former supervisor isn't helping with the concepts/ideas/results of the paper, they should't be co-author.

Since you seem open to changing the venue, I suggest you follow up on that, especially if you don't actually need their help.

If you have a submitted paper to a reputable journal, but not yet published, you can include that in the CV and also offer to make it (privately) available in any admissions process.

But it would also be useful, for the long term, to have a talk (face to face) with the supervisor and discuss the issues. Say you are considering publishing it as sole author (with acknowledgement). See what the response is. They might just be too busy to offer help. But if the ideas and development are yours, then the credit should be yours alone.

I realize it is a bit of a tradeoff between having a published paper (still not guaranteed) and having a sole author paper in progress, so you need to make the final determination. Good luck.

  • Thank you very much! I will take your advice carefully into account.
    – qwerty6392
    Nov 3, 2022 at 15:15

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