I am first author on a perspective paper being reviewed. The last authors are well known and comfortable discussing the future of certain technologies that can be seen as exciting but also provocative/delicate/controversial.
Our paper has about 20 co-authors. We wrote the paper very conservatively, only discussing the less delicate aspects of the field for the short-term. At one point, we did add a direct mention of the long-term more provocative possibilities (using explicit terms) - but then a small number of co-authors expressed concern, stating that if we explicitly stated these more long-term provocative directions, we could be "put on a list" by certain funding groups. This is because certain data we present, when coupled with explicit terms, can make the paper all the more provocative.
I always felt uneasy with stating the explicit long-term direction our work could go. So, I was relieved when the co-authors stated this - because we then removed the most controversial sections. I now strongly prefer to avoid explicitly stating controversial terms and long-term directions.
I could sense most co-authors, though, were disappointed at the removal of the more explicitly-stated bold future directions in our perspective piece. Only myself and two others seemed more conservative. Some co-authors even tried to edit back in softer mention of these bolder terms. Our current version does not explicitly mention provocative terms.
I am concerned:
Peer reviewers may ask us to add in the explicit terms as future directions. One co-author told me this is likely because to not mention bold terms could make us look uninformed or 'beating around the bush' about where this field could lead.
Our paper will be sensationalized in the media. Our last authors have said they think this paper will almost certainly make it to the media. I think they plan on contacting various media outlets. They are comfortable with the explicit terms (and have been publicly, which is why our paper, by virtue of being connected with them, softly implies the same). This is my biggest concern - having my name (as first author) connected to sensationalized headlines that make our paper sound extremely provocative.
I wanted to decrease the chance of these situations happening. Especially point 2. I plan to have a conversation with the last authors and ask them to avoid using those explicit terms when contacting the media. I am not sure if they will remember (due to being very busy), if they will comply in the end (especially as co-authors tried to edit back in explicit terms), and if they will state it clearly enough to media writers.
Has anyone ever dealt with such a situation before? Are there any other preventative measures I can take? Such as requesting that I can review media pieces before publication etc. or that my name simply not be mentioned at all?
(As a side note: I do plan to switch fields after this. I am on great terms with all my co-authors and plan to stay that way! But, I am switching into a field where there are fewer ethical complexities).