My first advisor wants me to include my second advisor's name in a paper that I worked on before she (2nd advisor) came along.

Should I include her name even though she didn't do anything in that paper? I don't think she even read it.

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    Based on the information you've provided, the answer seems to be clearly no. However, you still need to talk with (at least) your first advisor about this. If you search elsewhere on this site you can find links to guidelines on ethical coauthorship in various branches of academia. Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:30
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    possible duplicate of Co-authorship for not very involved supervisor
    – ff524
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:35
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    Can you propose to solicit her critical comments for the paper? That way you can get some comments (could be good) and don't need to lie. You can also use this chance to size her up. Plus your supervisor will have a joint publication with this newcomer. Potential win-win. Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:55
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    I recall creating a poster at the start of my PhD, by myself based on journal research... and by the time it went to print, there were 4 'authors' on it....... it was my first month or so of PhD so I had no idea if that was normal or not. Commented May 14, 2014 at 1:12
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    @MarkKCowan You had a poster/publication in the first month of your PhD?! :O
    – dearN
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


The behaviour of adding non-contributing authors is not considered good practise; quite the opposite. The Vancouver protocol specifies what is needed to be included as (co-)author. See descriptions at ICMJE and BMJ.

The basic points are as follows:

Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work;


Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content;


Final approval of the version to be published;


Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Note the "AND".

There are also several posts on the tag here on Academia that can be of use.

For someone to stand up against one's advisers is of course difficult and it is easy to state that one must do so. It is necessary to assess the situation and read up on the recommendations provided by learned societies such as BMJ and use that as part of your case. I strongly recommend this paper for students from APA Science Student Council.


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