As title entails, my PhD supervisor refuses to be included in all of my research papers as she did not take part in the writing process. However, since day one, she has been giving me ideas and directing my research & polishing it. Is this going to harm my chances of publishing in Q1 journals in my field?

In fact, I have previously received an email from a journal editor, asking me about why a PhD student is publishing without their supervisors. How would you answer such a question?

  • 6
    Is your field mathematics?
    – JRN
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 13:22
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    It would be really helpful to know your field. The question from the editor seems very unusual to me.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 15:39
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    I agree with JRN (and Jan). In some fields (like mathematics) it is rare for the advisor to be co-author on paper(s) coming from the student's thesis. In other fields, such lack of the advisor as co-author means the advisor has a low opinion of the work.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 21:11
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    @GEdgar It may also just mean that the advisor did not take part in the work. Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 13:41
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    "as she did not take part in the writing process" -- Why didn't she? Was leaving you on your own for writing something she initiated? As others mentioned it depends on the field, but frequently an advisor will participate in revisions and rewriting even if they have the student do the first draft. If that's the norm for your field, why that isn't happening might illuminate the dynamic at play here.
    – R.M.
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 3:13

5 Answers 5


This shouldn't be a problem. If an editor asks, just say that the supervisor agrees that whatever contributions they have made don't rise to the level of authorship.

It shouldn't harm your chances, and in fact is an ethical plus. But Q1 journals are pretty selective in any case.

In your field, supervisor authorship may be common, prompting the question from the editor.

In some fields (mine) it is unusual for supervisors to be added as authors. In some, it is nearly automatic.

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    One most likely gives credit to the supervisor in the acknowledgement in any case. Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 19:59
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    FWIW, in some contexts the adviser not being included as coauthor can be unethical. Not sure that it applies in this case, but I've definitely seen instances in which adviser habitually gives author-level contribution but refuses authorship in order to gift advisee a solo publication, which can be a real differentiator in the job market in some fields.
    – commscho
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 15:46
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    @commscho, as a mathematician, I don't see this as either unethical or "gift authorship". It is pretty much standard practice.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 16:02

I admire your supervisor and want to point out that they are modelling good professional ethics. At my institution (Australia) we have a research integrity code and mandatory training in this for all academic staff and higher degree research candidates. One dimension of this is co-publishing between supervisors and their candidates. In short we are stamping out predatory co-publishing where supervisors are named on papers simple because they're a supervisor. If a supervisor has not made a direct and clear contribution to a paper they are not entitled to be named. From my view your supervisor is doing the right thing. Learn from their example. As for will your publication chances be hurt if your supervisor is not named on the paper, I don't believe that will be the case. If it was, that reflects poorly on the journal. The key issue is not who is named but the quality of the paper. All the best.


Have you discussed why your supervisor does not want to be included. It can be an honest ethical assessment of her input, which she judges too limited to be coauthor. Perhaps you could also check whether your university has rules from claiming authorship. My university e.g. requires two out of three for: conceptualising the research; data collection and analysis; writing of the actual paper.


The journal has two concerns: Does your advisor not agree with your paper, and are you hiding the submission from them. Both of these can be allayed by responding that your advisor supports the work but feels that you should retain sole credit because you did all of the work, and that the editor is welcome to contact them.


she has been giving me ideas and directing my research & polishing it.

This is sort of the point of mentorship, right? To me, authorship is warranted with contribution to the manuscript itself. And while ideas are obviously the life blood of a manuscript, the reading, the writing, the endless editing, the (in my case) running and maintenance of code, all these things are important too, for authorship.

For me, I wouldn't really be okay with having my name on a paper that I didn't personally write stuff for (in the sense that I'm providing my actual intellectual contribution to it, aside from just giving feedback). If I didn't edit out whole paragraphs, add citations, and all the rest, then I really didn't write the paper, and wouldn't want to be included on it.

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