Two months ago I submitted a manuscript to my advisor for reviewing and submitting to a journal. He didn’t reply to that and when I asked him about it, he said we should think about publishing after two months and we don’t need to rush. He didn’t even bother to look into my paper.

I feel very anxious and have written a second paper this time with no discussion or involvement from him. I have put his name in the acknowledgement section for allowing me to use his lab computer. Do I stand a chance in publishing it without his name? The idea was never discussed by us and his involvement in this paper is almost not existent.

I have only a year to graduate and am worried for job hunting without publications. (About the quality of paper: Last year, when I came up with an idea, he rejected it claiming it was not good enough; six months later I saw it published by someone else. This time I am confident of getting accepted in reputed journals.)

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    Do I stand a chance in publishing it without his name — As opposed to what? Adding him as a coauthor would be unethical, since he didn't contribute. Students publish without their advisors all the time. (I did; my advisor did; my students do.)
    – JeffE
    Nov 6, 2014 at 16:50
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    Thank you @JeffE. I am worried if he will screw my PhD defense and reco letters for Asst. Prof. jobs Nov 6, 2014 at 16:52
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    That's a separate question. If you don't trust your advisor not to screw you over, you need a different advisor.
    – JeffE
    Nov 6, 2014 at 16:52
  • OK @JeffE thanks for your response, I have used his server for running and generating data for my present paper. Does that force me to put his name as a reviewer or author? Or acknowledging it in the end of the paper is sufficient? Nov 6, 2014 at 16:55
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    Does that force me to put his name as a reviewer or author? — That is a discussion you should have had with your advisor years ago. In my opinion, merely giving you access to a computer does not merit coauthorship, but the correct answer depends on publication norms in your field. Also, please keep to just one question: This is not a discussion forum.
    – JeffE
    Nov 6, 2014 at 16:58

4 Answers 4


The straight forward answer is that you can publish the work as you see fit. A well-written sound manuscript submitted to an appropriate journal is always welcome.

That said, however, your actions is not likely to smooth out any existing "conflict", for lack of a better word, between you and your advisor. And, just because one can does not mean it is the best solution. I am not about to judge who is is right or wrong in your situation, only someone close to you plural) would know. But, one question that immediately pops if you really have tried to discuss the matter in detail or if you have the position that your adviser should solve the problem. Lacking your advisor's side, only you can make such an assessment.

If you are in the position that your adviser is one-sidedly not communicating with you, the situation is difficult. I understand your eagerness to publish but will also mention a few things that can cause the actions to back-fire. First, you will most likely want letters of recommendation from your advisor so publishing work done in the advisor's lab without sanctioning from the adviser can become a negative aspect. You really need to objectively assess this proposed action. Second, if you are close to finishing, the timing is perhaps not optimal to ignite a conflict with your adviser. Again, you need to really assess your situation to know what ramafications can come from your actions. One partial solution, is of course to try to talk to other faculty for whom you have more confidence.

In the end, I can only see one solution: communicaton; and I can only advise to tread carefully over possibly mined territory so make sure you prepare your map carefully before running into solutions out of frustration or even anger.


I think this very much depends on the field you're in and your relationship with your advisor.

Usually before a grad student earns his own reputation, he's better off publishing with his advisor's name on the paper because the journal editors might then know where he's coming from. But if the paper's content is good enough, you should be okay publishing on your own. In the past many grad students published as the sole author of their papers, even in top-notch journals.

The drawback in publishing without your advisor's approval is that he might get upset with you, not the more desirable when you need his recommendation letter to get a job. But, as history proves it, advisors can be wrong and your work might be able to gain recognition by readers/editors who find value in your work.

Good luck!

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    Whether the advisor should have his name on the paper should be purely determined by his contribution to the paper, not by the chance of it being accepted with or without the name. Dec 17, 2014 at 8:49
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    sadly, the publishing world is very political. some papers were rejected not because the content was insufficient but because the referee got upset that his work didn't get enough credits in the bibliography.
    – user26695
    Dec 17, 2014 at 9:18

Do I stand a chance in publishing it without his name?

Very possibly. In most fields, the merit of the work matters more than the identity of the authors.

However, that's not the question you should be asking, which is:

Assuming the paper could get published without my advisor's name on it - can I take his/her name off?

Not really. Even if he is not pre-reviewing it now, he has had enough influence and contribution on your development as an academic and the development of your research, even your individual research, that it can probably be argued he should be be listed as an author; and it is customary in many fields to include your advisor as an author.

So if you do feel you must act:

  • Inform him you intend to submit the paper, with both your names, qualifying that with "unless you tell me otherwise" or some such phrase.
  • If he says he should not be listed as an author, remove him; otherwise keep him as an author.

Your advisor can always ask the conference or journal to withdraw his/her name - and that is not automatically considered something fishy, especially if he does the withdrawal and his reason is "I didn't make a significant contribution".

However, note that doing this can adversely effect your relationship with your advisor if he would rather you wait for his input.

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    it is customary to include your advisor as an author This apparently is true in some fields and not in others. What is yours? he has had enough influence and contribution on your development as an academic and the development of your research that it can probably be argued he should be listed as an author If that's true now, isn't it still true in 30 years? So every academic always adds his former supervisor as co-author?
    – sgf
    Sep 19, 2017 at 19:51
  • @sgf: About your first point: Edited to reflect that. I was under the impression it was more universal. About your second point: Philosophically not an easy question, but practical very easy: When you conclude your course and are awarded your degree, further work is independent enough of your former advisor's mentorship to not merit adding him/her as an author (unless you continue working together as regular collaborators).
    – einpoklum
    Sep 19, 2017 at 21:13
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    I agree, my second point was more aimed at the logic of having your supervisor always be co-author than at the decision of having him be co-author in any specific case.
    – sgf
    Sep 19, 2017 at 21:16
  • especially if he does the withdrawal and his reason is "I didn't make a significant contribution". — In my field, this would be considered extremely fishy. If you didn’t make a significant contribution, then how did your name get onto the paper in the first place??
    – JeffE
    Jan 29, 2018 at 4:14
  • @JeffE: Courtesy/deference by a graduate student.
    – einpoklum
    Jan 29, 2018 at 9:18

Do I stand a chance in publishing it without his name?

Yes, you very much do. Your supervisor may genuinely wish not to be associated with the main idea in the paper, for their own good reasons, and if they are a decent sort (not a given in academia) they will let you proceed as long as their name is not on it, and also not try to stab you in the back later. I have been in this position as a PhD student, and luckily my supervisor turned out to be the good sort.

Now, if your paper gets accepted into a top-journal, the supervisor may turn around and demand to be on it. They may even insist it was their idea all along! They may write a nasty letter to the editor claiming that you are a rogue student. In that case you will probably have to give in to their demand to be included in the author list.

So you could be in for a rough ride. Many academics are not nice people and behave in dishonourable ways. But you can, most certainly, publish without a supervisor. In fact, the publishing itself will be a lot easier for it.

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