8

Is it possible to withdraw authorship almost 2 years after the paper has been published in a journal? Reasons could be anything ranging from disagreement on data interpretation, new data contradictory to the original one, etc.

  • 8
    I've never heard of such a thing and I would be surprised if a procedure to remove an author exists, especially that late. I can't imagine many reasons for such an action that don't seem extremely suspicious. For instance, contradictory new results don't necessarily invalidate previous ones, unless it becomes clear that the first results were manipulated (in which case a full retraction is necessary). – Marc Claesen May 18 '16 at 19:32
  • 4
    You can try to convince your coauthors to retract the paper. A complicated situation arises if they do not agree with your request. You can also submit a comment, stating that you no longer agree with the analysis or the conclusions. Most people would consider this to be a pretty drastic step. More commonly, you improve on the work, and submit a new paper – Thomas May 18 '16 at 22:40
  • You cannot withdraw authorship because that is not a valid concept. Authorship is a fact. You cannot withdraw facts. You can disavow authorship, but only if your name was fraudulently placed on the paper. You can renounce views which you expressed in the paper, but cannot ask the world to pretend you did not put your name on it. – David42 May 19 '16 at 16:49
23

I wouldn't retract authorship, science is all about revising research based on new data or a better explanation. I'd suggest publishing a new paper, and explaining what you disagree with or have found better interpretations of from the old paper. A withdrawal of authorship (even if possible) would be interpreted as some form of manipulation of data in the prior paper.

  • 2
    Indeed. If the new data contradict the old, both with (at the given time) appropriate methodology and knowledge, that's perfectly fine. Sometimes the original data are corrected over time, sometimes the new data are actually the wrong ones. A classic example in theory is Einstein's introduction of the cosmological constant, because he didn't like the consequences of his original theory. Honest mistakes are a part of scientific history. – Captain Emacs May 18 '16 at 21:04
14

Is it possible to withdraw authorship almost 2 years after the paper has been published in a journal?

No, as a general rule you can't. You can publish an erratum if there's a clear-cut mistake in a paper that needs to be corrected or noted, and you can retract the paper if the mistake is so significant that nothing of any value can be salvaged. Retraction is a big deal, which you should resort to only if you have to. In practice, papers are retracted either for fraud or for shockingly big mistakes.

Other than that, you can't make any changes to published papers. In particular, you can't withdraw as an author just because you changed your mind or regret having been an author.

Reasons could be anything ranging from disagreement on data interpretation, new data contradictory to the original one, etc.

Reasonable disagreement on data interpretation would not be viewed as a compelling reason. If you disagreed at the time, then it should have been handled then; if you previously agreed but now disagree, then the paper correctly reflects your prior agreement.

New data contradictory to the old could be grounds for an erratum or retraction if it indicates fraud or serious methodological error in the original paper. On the other hand, the fact that the conclusions should be updated in light of new data is not in itself an error in the original paper.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.