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Is it correct to remove a co-author from a resubmitted manuscript if the testing protocol was changed and the original experiments of the coauthor are no longer in the paper? The experiments were replaced, the result however is the same.

The co-author developed the method for this assay and worked on the project for at least 6 months. Can their work just be ignored by telling them that their measurements are not in the paper anymore and noone should be an author of the paper if they just measured „similar things“. This all went about behind the back of this co-author.

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    Not an answer to the technical question of ethics, but I've been a co-author on a paper where the contribution I'd made in early drafts had been entirely expunged by the final version. Feb 18, 2023 at 10:38
  • Good for you :-) this should be the healthy working environment
    – Mnopqrs
    Feb 18, 2023 at 11:08
  • I'd say both leaving the co-author on the paper and removing them can be justified, so this has to be negotiated between the authors. Feb 18, 2023 at 11:08
  • And if they do not negotiate?
    – Mnopqrs
    Feb 18, 2023 at 11:09
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    Is this the same situation as in your previous question?
    – Anyon
    Feb 18, 2023 at 15:19

2 Answers 2

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Others might have a different opinion on this. My opinion is that it is completely wrong to do so and the expunged person should take action if it is available.

They worked in good faith on the project, presumably. They offered ideas and contributed to conversations. Some of those conversations might, in principle, have cause the group to actually change direction. It is impossible to say, after the fact, that no contributions to the work defined broadly were made.

I'd treat it as a profound professional insult and would, myself, treat no one in that way, nor work with people who do.

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That is really wrong as @Buffy says. This is evident, since the authors went behind the co-author's back (I mean if this is ok - why hide it?).

I will add that this kind of behavior, can have far-reaching consequences. Not only will you lose faith with your (presumably no longer) coauthor, most academic sub disciplines are small (say, 50 labs). Word gets around, and this kind of behavior will make it more difficult for a lab to get new students, new collaborators and in some cases hurt the PI's career (if there's a consistent pattern).

In addition, if you're submitting to the same journal (or a journal within the same discipline), then the editor may find out and react accordingly. Furthermore, the removed co-author can easily block the publication (if they're feeling angry enough) by emailing the editor and letting them know. A decent editor would prevent these kinds of shenanigans.

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