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I was recently informed that a manuscript that I submitted to a journal a long time ago has been accepted.

I submitted it as the sole author, however, my advisor had some comments and suggestions that I applied to the manuscript.

As a courtesy I would now like to add him as an author.

My question: can a second author, i.e. my advisor, be added once I receive the galley proof, or whatever that is called, to the manuscript.

Any thoughts would be highly appreciated.

Possibly related to this question.

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I would like to draw your attention to the Vancouver Protocol for Authorship:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work;
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
  3. Final approval of the version to be published;
  4. 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.

According to the protocol, a candidate for authorship must meet all four criteria to be considered an author on the piece. Of course, some do not follow such protocol, but this is the expectation.

Considering that you have already submitted and the piece has been accepted, it would appear that your supervisor does not meet all four criteria, in particular points three and four. Otherwise, for your supervisor to meet the criteria of authorship, they would have had to have given you approval and permission to submit the manuscript in the first place.

Thank them in the acknowledgements, that's usually the appropriate way to handle this situation.

  • This isn't necessarily true. It sounds like the final version to be published has not submitted yet and without extra information, it seems impossible to determine if the supervisor meets poin four. – Michael Mior Aug 6 '19 at 22:40
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The difficulty here is that there's not a lot of ethical flexibility. It's possible that this is a borderline case, where it's genuinely unclear whether your advisor should be an author and the two of you could reasonably change your minds. However, most cases are not near the borderline. As a general rule, either your advisor should have been an author all along (in which case submitting the paper without him was unethical), or he should not be an author now (in which case adding him would be unethical). It's possible to change the author list after acceptance, but the editors will be suspicious and will ask for an explanation of why nothing unethical is going on.

I assume you discussed authorship with your advisor when you submitted the paper, and both of you approved of the author list at the time of submission. (If you didn't discuss it, then you need to do so immediately.) In that case, what has changed? It's usually best not to revisit the authorship once it has been agreed on, but if you feel strongly about it you could explain that you feel the current author list undervalues your advisor's contributions and that you think he should become an author. (Note that as Nate Eldredge points out in the comments, this is only allowable if he made substantial intellectual contributions to the research, not just to thank him for his supervision.)

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