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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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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).

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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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