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My master's advisor proposed to me a research point that was already published. I found another question, modified the methodology, and got new results, and I am planning to publish the work. He didn't help me during my work and was always telling me that he is not convinced of my ideas. When meetings became unproductive, I stopped visiting and continued on my own. Now, regarding the ethical rules of authorship. Should his name be included?

Update 1: I am adding more info:

  1. I am self-funded
  2. He used to tell me that he is not convinced without giving me reasons why. He simply was not interested and was underestimating me.
  3. My field is numerical optimization and I presented the work at a reputable conference in the field.
  4. He wants his name on it but, this was after it got accepted by this prestigious conference.

UPDATE: I asked a young faculty who I know personally and can trust. He suggested that I would need to respectfully discuss my contribution and the advisor's involvement in the paper with the advisor and reach an agreement on authorship.

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  • Are you being funded by him, or supported through one of his grants? If so, you may be obligated to include his name. Also, how do you plan to get your work reviewed from an expert (usually your advisor) before publishing? Also on the flip side, considering your advisor does not believe in the merits of your paper, is it possible he does not want his name included? That is something you have to check with him.
    – Neb Uzer
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:32
  • Does he have control over whether your work is accepted for the degree?
    – Buffy
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:35
  • Additionally, do journals in your field have a financial fee for submitting a paper? And will you be asking your advisor to foot that bill?
    – XYZT
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:36
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    People implying answers to this question in comments where they can not be downvoted should know that while providing authorship for financial considerations is certainly a thing that happens, this is often referred to as "gift authorship" and is considered highly unethical by many standards, and perhaps you should reconsider.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:41
  • @buffy I usually listen to your advice. Would love to know what is your advice regarding my situation. Yes, he is my master's advisor.
    – Dark_Witch
    Apr 12, 2023 at 15:02

2 Answers 2

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In my field (public policy), authorship is warranted with contribution. Practically, this means being a primary participant in all areas of the research process, from writing and editing the code use to get your statistical results, developing and conceptualizing the paper, and taking a key role in the decision-making process around the direction it'll take. Playing an active role in the writing process, putting in the time necessary to work on the very fine details to the best of your ability to ensure the manuscript is polished and code sound.

Sure, each author will likely be better at some of these things than others, but so long as your advisor has done at a minimum most of these as I've listed above, then their contribution befits authorship. If he did little to none of these, then he decidedly doesn't deserve to have his name on the paper, at best thank him in the notes for feedback. Beyond him, it'll ultimately be the reviewer's jobs to decide if your papers ideas are worthy.

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There isn't enough information here to know.

However, I would note that:

always telling me that he is not convinced of my ideas

seems to be something that you interpret as "my advisor is not useful", when actually, this can be very useful advice. To be useful to the rest of the academic community, you must be able to express your ideas in a manner that others understand, and support any assertions you make sufficiently to convince them.

If your advisor isn't convinced of your ideas, they are giving you the advice that you need to make a better case. This is a form of helping, especially if they help to emphasize for you where your arguments are weakest.

Qualifications for authorship vary by field, so again, I cannot tell you for certain whether your advisor should be an author. In a good situation, the person best prepared to advise you on that is your advisor, though I get the impression from your post that you may not trust them. I don't have enough information to say whether that's reasonable or not.

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  • I added more relevant information in my original post.
    – Dark_Witch
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:51
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    @MadFunctions Getting only one side of the story, I'm hesitant to suggest either way. Perhaps there's a somewhat neutral third party you could consult?
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 12, 2023 at 14:52
  • Aha, well I thought that in this platform answers are suggested under the assumption that the one who is asking is telling the truth! :)
    – Dark_Witch
    Apr 14, 2023 at 10:39
  • Things like that happen all the time. Advisors who don't listen to their students, tell them that they are wrong "without giving them convincing reasons". Then the student takes an independent approach, and gets his/her work recognized by a reputable conference the advisor reacts in an unethical way. Abusing his/her authority by offering to be an author in order to give the student the degree and write them a RL. In my part of the world, this happens a lot! - academia sucks bc lots of academics are conformists and encourage younger folks to accept being exploited to get ahead.
    – Dark_Witch
    Apr 14, 2023 at 10:51
  • @MadFunctions I've seen several times here where people post "my advisor didn't help me at all" and with a bit of clarification it turns out that their advisor led them the whole way without them realizing it. The advice in your update is good advice.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:20

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