I'm in very weird situation. The manuscript of my work was submitted for publication without my consent, and I am certainly opposed to the author order, because I am the second author of the article right now. According to ethical rules, the first author should be the person who contributed most to the experimental work. This study with all the experiments, obtaining data, all literature research, data analysis (except for the miRNA target analysis performed by third author), and majority of the writing process of themanuscript (except for the same part of discussion) belong to me and my master's thesis.

The person who appears as the first author in the manuscript only edited the manuscript and figure names at the end of the writing process and wrote some parts of the discussion. He also sent RNA samples for sequencing years ago. Then, I chose a specific miRNA from the data and wrote a project funded by government. Then, I conducted all the experiments without any help from anyone.

This manuscript submission was done by the first author and my supervisors after my graduation and me leaving the laboratory. I am an early-career researcher with a few experiences in academia, however, I am proud of my work, and I think I need to claim the lead.

I communicated with my supervisor that I do not agree with her decision, but she refused my idea and insulted me for leaving the group. Unfortunately, I am very aware that ethical misconducts are common in this group. Next, I sent an email to the editor. However, I didn't receive a feedback yet. I mentioned that I have all data in raw format, and they only had the figures, also that this work belongs to my thesis. What should I do?

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    He may have a valid claim on first authorship, since you say "He also sent RNA samples for sequencing years ago.". We can't actually judge that. But you should wait to hear from the editor. Fighting with your advisor isn't helping your future prospects either.
    – Buffy
    Feb 2, 2023 at 15:03
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    'According to ethical rules, the first author should be the person who contributed most to the experimental work.' There aren't really any ethical rules about the order of authors, are there? Feb 3, 2023 at 11:47
  • You can check this out: provost.yale.edu/policies/academic-integrity/….
    – Cgl
    Feb 3, 2023 at 12:01
  • "Often" and "usually" are not universal quantifiers.
    – Lodinn
    Feb 4, 2023 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


Journals will generally claim that they cannot arbitrate authorship order disputes.

However, submitting a article in someone's name without their permission is a serious ethics breach. Many people will do so, but they are taking a risk. Thus you are likely to have better luck with an editor saying "I did not agree to this being published, they are using my name without my permission" than "I think I should be first author".

  • Hello, thank you. However, there is another thing that might be important in this situation. My thesis was funded a project, so copy right doesn't belong to me, i guess. At this point, do i have a right to say"I don't want this study to be published".
    – Cgl
    Feb 3, 2023 at 9:09
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    Yes you. This is a question of academic ethics, not copywrite law. Ironically had they submitted it without you as an author at all, it would be much harder to dispute. Feb 3, 2023 at 9:12
  • Specifically you are saying "I did not agree to be an author of this paper (with the associated liability that carries)" not "I did not agree for them to use my data". Feb 3, 2023 at 9:23
  • It is a group that is toxic enough to remove me from authorship and publish the article. They threaten me in all sorts of ways (never leaving any written evidence), so I'm scared, and I hope I don't take a wrong step. Thank you for your help.
    – Cgl
    Feb 3, 2023 at 9:31
  • Removing an author once a paper is submitted is much harder than not submitting it with the author in the first place. At good journals an explanation is required, and the permission of the author being removed (not all journals are this good). Of course they could withdraw the paper and submit somewhere else. At which point you'd be back to complaining the department head or academic misconduct process at the institution in question. But the withdrawal and resubmission would not look good for them. Feb 3, 2023 at 10:23

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