I completed my PhD almost a year ago. I had 3 advisers for my PhD research and I could say that all the three hardly had any idea what I was doing. During my PhD days, I used to write papers and include them as co-authors of the work. It was frustrating indeed. Much part of the work is still not published. I am looking forward to publish the same in reputed journals. I really do not want to include them as the co-authors of the work as they are no way involved in the work. Now that I am done with the PhD studies, will it be alright to send the papers with single author?

  • 2
    There's the obvious burning-bridges question: would this upset your old advisers in a way that might cause you problems in the future? If you don't list them as authors were you planning to acknowledge them at least? It may be simplest and most prudent to just make them co-authors this one last time, even if it is a higher-profile journal than before, but I understand your frustration.
    – Rup
    Feb 16 '16 at 11:01
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    The reputation of the journals is irrelevant to whether they should be named as co-authors or not. Why are you mentioning this?
    – Cape Code
    Feb 16 '16 at 11:18
  • @Cape Code. yes, by reputed journals, i meant international peer-reviewed journals. It can just be thought of as an adjective.
    – prashanth
    Feb 16 '16 at 11:26
  • @Rup Yes that is the reason why I am asking this. I really do not know if it will offend them as I/they am no way communicating to each other and they hardly bother about this. Sure I do not look forward for any problems in the future. I would be glad to acknowledge them which I would highly appreciate. Adding them as co-authors looks unjustifiable based on my conscience. But I look forward for any advise.
    – prashanth
    Feb 16 '16 at 11:33
  • 2
    I really do not know if it will offend them --- Have you tried actually talking to them?
    – JeffE
    Feb 18 '16 at 3:05

Authorship standards vary a lot between disciplines, but generally the hierarchical relationship between you and the other authors should be irrelevant. In other words including them before only because they were your supervisors was wrong* so is excluding them now only because you feel they have no leverage anymore.

You mention the reputation of the journals, this is not a relevant factor. It's true that some more reputable journals describe authorship criteria explicitly, something that lower-tier journals rarely do, but the expectations is always that the listed authors contributed to the presented work according to the customs of the field.

It's impossible for anyone not closely related to your personal situation to tell you if they deserve authorship or not. What can be said is that quite often do graduate students underestimate the scientific contribution of their supervisors.

Your only option is to discuss the matter with them. Do they actively ask to be co-authors? Have you told them that you think their contribution is not significant enough?

*I know that this still happens, in some fields too often. That's why I wrote should be and not is.


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