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I have received an email from a researcher, who work on topics related to my field of research. The researcher asked if I'm interested in collaboration, and then explained that they have an almost ready-to-submit paper and they need funding (fees for Open Access journals). I'm assuming what this person means is that if I just provide the funding, then my name automatically goes on the paper!! I consider this to be unethical, even if I can add something to the paper.

I was wondering, is this common? Is it ethical?

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    Does this answer your question? Co-authorship in exchange for paying conference fee
    – Sursula
    Feb 28, 2023 at 12:57
  • also related/duplicate: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/157846/…
    – Sursula
    Feb 28, 2023 at 12:58
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    How do you know this isn't a scam? Have they sent you part of their work for you to verify they aren't just trying to get money from you? If they have, have you checked that it's not something already submitted by someone else they are just trying to use to sound legit? Have you researched the person themselves to see if they are actually who they say they are? Feb 28, 2023 at 22:12
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    This is not a duplicate of the first link, since this is from the perspective of someone who received an offer of authorship, while the linked question involves a student whose professor offered someone else authorship.
    – GoodDeeds
    Mar 1, 2023 at 7:01

1 Answer 1

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It is hard to judge from a distance since we don't know their actual motivation. If they are asking for true collaboration, even if just to get your buy-in and confirmation on the ideas, then it could be fine.

But "buying in" in the sense of providing funds but not ideas isn't ethical.

It likely happens, but I doubt that it is too common. Junior researchers are less likely to have the funds and senior researchers are less likely to need an additional paper, especially if they don't really vet the ideas.

Perhaps the "ask" was just awkward rather than improper, but it does seem a bit "icky".

If you are interested, talk to them about the collaboration. Then go from there.

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    It may start to become more common, now that personal funding isn't always necessary. Often simply having the right affiliation is enough to get gold OA via a transformative agreement. Mar 1, 2023 at 9:40

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