It's a finance paper. Is there any problem with adding somebody with a Master in English as a coauthor, since he could help me correct the grammatical mistakes and make the paper more readable?

  • 7
    You can thank them in the Acknowledgments section.
    – Tom
    Mar 14, 2023 at 22:16

3 Answers 3


Helping you polish a paper is not earning co-authorship, unless they have substantive contribution to content.

You can thank them in the acknowledgement, or pay them for language editing service, but authorship is not a suitable compensation.

  • 54
    Indeed, it isn't the degree they hold, but their intellectual contribution.
    – Buffy
    Mar 14, 2023 at 13:55
  • 54
    ... and vice versa, if they do make a substantial contribution, they should be a coauthor, regardless of the degree. Mar 14, 2023 at 20:34
  • 1
    Thank them, pay them, or both.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 15, 2023 at 15:35
  • @StephanKolassa That goes without saying, but I think the OP is not in danger on erring on the side of being too stingy with credit. Mar 16, 2023 at 1:11
  • I suppose it depends on how much of the writing they do. If they've essentially written the whole paper from some notes, that'd warrant coauthorship. If it's just a bit of editing, then I'd agree. Mar 16, 2023 at 16:59

Co-authorship is based on contribution, not credentials. If someone participated significantly in the content of your paper, then they should be credited, even if they have an unrelated degree, or none at all.

However, editing is form, not content. A person who helps you with the mechanics of writing a paper, such as editing, formatting, transcribing, translation, etc., but not with the subject matter content of the paper can be given acknowledgement, but doesn't warrant co-authorship. General rule: if you can get someone from Fiverr to do it, it's probably not co-authorship.

  • 2
    I have met and talked to one professional editor in my life. I always felt my knowledge of my own language was quite good; compared to him on a scale from 0 to 10 it was about 4 vs. 9. A good editor is worth their weight in gold. So if you call that "helping with the mechanics of writing", that is possibly vastly overestimating your own abilities. Now if you hire someone doing it for cheap...
    – gnasher729
    Mar 16, 2023 at 0:16

It should be noted that there is a difference between editing and writing. If they wrote several paragraphs from scratch, found relevant references, and contributed conceptually to the presentation of the manuscript, in many fields that is an intellectual contribution that warrants authorship. However, if someone only edited your existing paragraphs, then this does not warrant authorship in pretty much any field of academia I am aware of. Payment for their services, or if they are a friend and don't want payment, a meal or gift is a nice gesture. If you don't pay for their services an acknowledgment in the paper is ethically obligatory in my opinion.

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