A while back I co-authored a commentary with a colleague. I would now like to write an original article/paper, as a sole author, based on the commentary I co-authored. Basically, I want to extend the ideas presented in the commentary. Do I need my colleague's permission to do so?

If I do need their permission and they decline, what recourse do I have?

  • 2
    Sorry if I misunderstand something, but how, exactly, is this a research paper? What research?
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 11:00
  • @Buffy: I'm not completely sure what you are asking. Mark apparently wrote a commentary paper together with a co-author, and now is thinking of starting a line of research based off ideas in that commentary. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 13:27
  • I think the confusion might be to do with the field, I'm guessing OP is from the social sciences, where research can be more investigating an idea in the sense of considering/discussing ideas. Therefore there may be some difficulty in separating the contributions of the authors in the two papers. Whereas Buffy (and me) come from hard sciences, where to do a research paper you'd need to do an experiment or a calculation. Since the commentary would not require experiment/calculation, there is a clear distinction of contribution and which is research. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 17:42
  • @Buffy As @ N A McMahon correctly points out, I am in the social sciences where an original article/paper is also classified as a research paper or as original research, which is basically a scholarly article.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:08

2 Answers 2


No, you absolutely don't need permission. After all, this is no different than extending the ideas in any published paper, and you don't need permission from such a paper's authors, either. (Suppose you read three papers, and their combination suggested a new idea to you. If you had to ask the authors of all three papers for permission, research would grind to a halt.)

Of course, you do need to cite that predecessor commentary. And it would be good form to inform your coauthor soon - they may actually be able to contribute something, leading to a second coauthored paper.

  • 1
    Thanks for the advice! I do plan to inform them soonest.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:15

You certainly don't need your colleague's permission, but that doesn't mean there are zero issues.

You should certainly think about how this would impact the relationship with your colleague moving forward, and that may make discussing it with your colleague (whether you seek permission or just inform them of what you'll be doing) a good thing to do. If the sole authorship is important for career reasons, let them know.

  • 1
    Thank you. I most certainly intend to inform them, I just wanted to know if I would their permission.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:11

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