I’m a PhD student working in CS. My advisor does not understand the subject I’m working on as it’s a bit off-topic compared to the topics addressed in the lab. He does get the main idea, but does not have enough technical background to input valuable comments that could contribute to the project. Plus, he does not seem to be that much interested in the topic: I barely see him, and he does not write any papers with me. He rather waits for me to finish the paper, then reads it lazily and comes up with one or two typos and advice about putting figures in a box and such. Quite disappointing and not the kind of contributions I’d expect from a co-author!

The first time I submitted this paper, I put him as a co-author hoping that it would get him to at least try to grasp some of the technical subtleties. Unfortunately, that didn't work.
The paper got rejected eventually and I am now working on a new improved version. But I’m considering authoring it solo this time. When I hinted at it, my advisor told me that he pays for my PhD, and that my work belongs to his institution. So this is supposedly why he should be a co-author of this paper.

Do you have any thoughts or advice about what to do? I'd also like to know if this is common in CS: Advisors neither participating in the research nor writing papers with students?

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    Related: When should a supervisor be a co-author? at MathOverflow. – Martin Sep 19 '14 at 13:02
  • If it is the same paper, how can he be an author on its first version and not on the second version? Also, in your post I see quite many spelling mistakes, so perhaps you may actually need someone to actually help you with your technical writing. – Alexandros Sep 19 '14 at 16:08
  • @Alexandros If you are talking about the instances of "ey," "em," and "eir," these are the Elverson gender-neutral pronouns. – Mad Jack Sep 19 '14 at 17:00
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    @MadJack: Whether intentional or not, they make the text a pain to read anyway (and were not even used consistently) – so I removed them. – Wrzlprmft Sep 19 '14 at 20:25
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    This is called exploitation. Or, if you prefer abuse. It unfortunately seems to be common in academia, though for obvious reasons statistics are hard to come by. Read this forum, you'll see many such examples described. You should realise, if you don't already, that your advisor (though of course I have never met him) probably considers your main function to improve his CV by writing papers so he can put his name on them. If possible, try to find a different advisor. – Faheem Mitha Sep 20 '14 at 22:19