I have collaborated and written several research papers where my co-authors withheld the final draft and submitted the paper without my name as co-author. Two papers have single authors (not me) and a third paper has three authors (one of whom was not even on the research team when I conceptualised the research and analysed the data). The explanation for excluding me as author is that I did not meet the third criterion of the Vancouver protocol (final approval of the version to be published). The university supported this cheating because it follows the letter of the law. I have analysed data for a fourth paper which my collaborator has not yet published as her own. However, she is one of the single authors mentioned above, so my guess is that she will publish this as her work too. I no longer work at that department. What should I do?

I was never given a chance to review the final drafts of the manuscripts. They were submitted behind my back.

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    It's not clear what you're asking for. Do you want to retroactively be named as author on the already published papers? Do you want to ensure that this fourth paper isn't published without you? Something else?
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 22:06
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    (continued) What to do when principal investigator publishes your work without putting you down as a coauthor? - even if not exactly the same situation, I suspect any of the possible actions you might take will already be enumerated among the answers to those.
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 22:09
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    Thank you for these very quick replies and links. My problem is a bit different because I have gone to the university and they say I don't have a leg to stand on because I did not approve the final draft (criterion 3). This is correct. I did not approve the final draft. Is having it withheld from me sufficient reason to go to a journal and get a notation put on the paper? Do I send drafts to the journals to support my case and leave it to them to decide? Is it appropriate to write to the author of my 4th manuscript and remind her to include me? What tone is appropriate?
    – user44015
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 22:44

3 Answers 3


You might want to consider this discussion of authorship by ICMJE, the statement of interest being that

The criteria are not intended for use as a means to disqualify colleagues from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion #s 2 or 3. Therefore, all individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript.

So if you made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work, then you should have been given the opportunity to meet the third criterion. If indeed your colleagues just hijacked the work, there is a clear argument to be made that this is a violation of an ethical principle (depending on whether there are other material details that we don't know of).


I know a PhD candidate that had the same issue with one co-author (the supervisor). Right after the paper was submitted without consent, the candidate sent an email to the journal editors and they rejected the paper based on evidence and for the sake of doubt. They asked the supervisor to re-submit the paper with signed declarations by all the authors and contribution declarations. At the end, the supervisor recognized that the paper was submitted without consent and the paper re-submitted with a new approved version.


It is not clear from your question whether you were denied the chance to review and potentially approve the manuscript for submission, or you did review the manuscript but did not approve of the decision to submit the paper. If it is the second case, then there is, in my understanding, very little chance for you to make a case for your authorship, since you voluntarily gave up your authorship right. Depending on the particulars of your case, it may be argued that the collaborator should have delayed publication until a consensus has been reached after additional revision. But again, it is unclear from your question whether this option has been explored appropriately. However, if it is the first case, the reason given by your collaborator sounds dubious - if you do not have a chance to review the manuscript, how can you possibly approve the manuscript? In this case you should consult the previous questions and answers suggested by @ff524.

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