I was on vacation when a senior PhD student wanted me to help with his project. I rejected and my advisor sent me an email to check whether I wanted to co-author this project a few weeks later. I accepted because he is my advisor and It'll be nice to have a paper for graduation since I just got into the PhD program. I worked on this project for about 3 months with full commitment(including weekends) so that the tool built by the senior student was able to run on some platforms.

But the result turned out to be not very good so the senior decided to remove the part I worked on from paper. But I did all the tasks like analysis and it was not my mistake for the result. He told me my contribution for this part was probably equal to or lower than polishing the paper. The reason is that the paper is the final product for submission. I asked him how to count the contribution and he told me by feeling. I'm really frustrated. My advisor told me to come to his office with the senior maybe talk about the project. I know there is nothing I can do. Maybe someone can help me to overcome my mental issues.

  • 3
    Your advisor is the best person to decide whether you should be on the paper.
    – Coder
    Sep 12, 2023 at 8:22
  • Is there any mention of your work in the article? E.g., "we investigated blah but the results were inconclusive"? If so, definitely. If not, then I still think there is value in your investigation showing that the researchers that their direction was wrong. Your authorship is payment for your work. You deserved to be paid. Sep 18, 2023 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


You have learned that research is a process without certainty of result. If your work doesn't appear in a paper, you have no claim to authorship, though it would be polite and professional for the authors to acknowledge your work in the paper.

However, what you did isn't necessarily lost and can be, perhaps, worked on in the future, expanded, and possibly result in some future publication.

But there is no reason to "beat yourself up" over such an issue. It isn't a failure on your part, but just in the nature of scholarly work that not everything reaches fruition or the result we wish. Don't give up.

Even if there is no visible result of your work, however, the goodwill of your advisor can mean a lot for your future. Even the NY Yankees occasionally end up in last place. (Sorry, local reference)

  • Those ideas that didn't pan out or make it to publication always have a funny way of popping up in future problems. Digging into a topic is rarely fruitless if you wait long enough. Sep 18, 2023 at 21:44

Different fields will handle this situation differently. If something doesn't work, then the fact that it doesn't work can still be a valuable contribution. However, if your advisor agrees that your work shouldn't be included, you have no reason to doubt his judgment.

Unfortunately, in research, you have no guarantee of success whatsoever. If you ask around, you will probably find that everyone with sufficient experience has at some point spent three month or much longer without getting a paper out of it.

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