If a paper was published with an author's name without that author's consent, what can be done about it?

It there a way to disassociate oneself with a published paper? is retraction the only way? If the paper is retracted, does it still stay online and is associated with that author's name?


3 Answers 3


All journals that I've come across require the submitting author to certify that all authors have consented to publication. I would think that therefore if an author gets in touch with the publisher to indicate they have not given consent, the publisher would be forced not only to withdraw the paper, but also instigate investigations into misconduct.

  • 3
    Agreed. It's a much bigger deal than simply removing a name. The elephant in the room is of course "why?" to which there is no good answer. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 16:44
  • 1
    In math (where the number of coauthors is usually small), many journals require each author to submit their consent directly.
    – Kimball
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 15:49

It is possible, and possible routes have been given in other responses. However, I'd like to give another facet. Before you go down this route, consider the consequences:

  1. a likely investigation into misconduct of your fellow authors
  2. you will not be exempt from the investigation, namely "how did it get that far", and inhowfar your role in miscommunication contributed
  3. furthermore the authors will be exposed and you will be likely shunned by them (and a "halo" of their friends).

This is not to say you should not pursue it; it may be perfectly justified - but, as you did not inform us of the context behind your question, you should understand that retracting authorship is a massive step to take and you should be aware of its consequences. You will lose a lot, so I only see the upholding of ethical principles or the threat of a massive loss of reputation as plausible scenarios for such a step.

  • "You will lose a lot" -- as you have said, we do not know the context, so I don't think one can categorically say that OP will lose a lot. I can very well imagine he might not lose anything at all (beyond the time and emotionall/mental fatigue), depending on the circumstances.
    – tomasz
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 1:13
  • If the OP were a senior author who was put on a paper without agreement, chances are that they would just put their foot down and demand to be removed from the paper, and would not place this question on stackexchange. So, my bet is on the OP not being the senior author. Importantly, here the paper is already published, so there will be collateral damage which cannot be waved off (much differently from being taken off before submission or publication, for which easy ways out are conceivable). This is the educated guess forming the basis of my scenario of "will lose". Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 2:05

Yes user2390246 is somewhat right. However, many journals require consent through signature on consent form that needs to be scanned and uploaded during submission. If you did not get signature or somebody signed behalf of him/her, you need to contact editor and they make correction in the next issue and the editor also make necessary arrangement for the journal.

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