I have been reading about several cases in which a co-author submitted a paper without the consent of another author (for example in What to do after I was named as co-author on a paper, without my consent?).
Consider a situation where one co-author goes on to publish without my consent when I am the first author.
I know the rule for most publishers would legally prevent a co-author from doing this as the submitting author requires consent from all authors. However, it seems that in practice many journals have no practical processes in place to prevent this. The co-author would likely submit to an Elsevier journal. It seems that the Elsevier submission system (EES) would allow them to submit and go through the whole process by themselves without informing me if they wanted to.
Moreover, it seems that for Elsevier journals, only the submitting author is informed of advancements through the process, so that the co-author could indeed go through the whole process without other authors knowing.
If I only find out when it is published, it also seems that I have nothing to do about it. It seems that a retraction would only do more damage to my career as the paper will just stay online with my name and also be tagged as retracted. There seems to be no way if disassociating yourself with a published paper.
I am a bit worried to see that in fact there seems to be no real barriers to a co-author doing something like that. Note again that I am referring to the Elsevier process, though there may be other publishers with a similar process (and potentially the process is not like this for all Elsevier journals).
To summarize, it seems that, at least for certain journals:
- A co-author could submit a paper without the consent of other authors and the journal would not inform or ask explicitly for consent from other authors.
- The co-author could go through the entire process, even up to publication, without any other author explicitly being asked for confirmation.
- Other authors in such a case would not even be informed of the submission or status changes of the paper
- If eventually the paper is published, the only option unaware authors have is retraction, which is likely to do even more damage to their career than the fact that the paper has been published prematurely.
Am I correct in my assessment? it seems like if this is true for even some journals, then the publishing process for such journals has been designed quite poorly.
I would like to know how, as an author, I could prevent such a thing from occurring to me. How can I prevent a co-author from publishing without my consent?
I am aware that the best means is having a good relationship and communication with the co-author in the first place and I will do the best I can in this regard. But I would like to know what other practical means I have of preventing this.