My coauthor and I work at some organization. After I started working with him, people told me that he allegedly took some data (used in the paper) from the organization without authorization (He was let go from the organization.)

I received a letter from the organization stating that he indeed took the data without authorization. He explained that if I finished the paper he will send the paper to the organization for clearance. I asked him to show me the document, but he only replied: “I am in good relation with that organization.” So, I gave him benefits of doubts and I did all the work, including every calculation.

While he had been claiming that “the data breach is a rumor”, I confronted him over the phone and he finally admitted that the data breach is a fact. I myself have acquired clearance with the organization regarding the data breach since then. However, he refuses to withdraw from the paper.

As for the paper, I have proved every single result, every single calculation, and every single sentence of the paper. He did not do anything. I asked him and he cannot define a very basic term used in the paper. He said: “But it is not honest to ask me to remove my name only by simple assumption like the one you raised.”

I would think of proceeding as

  1. ask the coauthor to provide me the formal paperwork on this issue,
  2. if the coauthor fails to provide me these documents then I would need to drop him from the paper.

Do you think it make sense? Are there any other procedures that I need to follow?


2 Answers 2


Criteria for authorship depend on the journal, but generally follow something along the lines of the ICMJE recommendations. To be an author, you should:

  1. have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Approved the final version to be published; AND
  4. Agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

You don't mention who conceived or designed the study, but unless he made a substantial contribution to this he hasn't met #1, since you acquired and interpreted the data (if he initially provided the data but was not allowed to, that doesn't count). It doesn't sound like he's met #2. If you've showed him the final version he could claim he's met #3 and he would probably agree to #4 even though this would be misrepresenting his ability to follow the rest of the work.

Basically, you leave him off the author list but (potentially) acknowledge him.

  • Thank you. But he is not willing to withdraw from the paper.
    – user12586
    Aug 5, 2016 at 22:48
  • I'm not sure what you mean by 'withdraw from the paper' - he doesn't get to decide whether he's on the paper or not, you do (as submitting author). You submit without adding him as an author.
    – arboviral
    Aug 8, 2016 at 8:18
  • What if he writes a protesting email?
    – user12586
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:28
  • To whom? If it's to you, ignore it. If it's to the organisation, it sounds like he's already in their bad books and they would agree with you. If it's to the journal, you have a letter from the organisation showing that he did not own the contribution he initially made, and you can explain to them that he didn't do anything else subsequently. As long as you've not left anything out here I don't really see the problem. I would probably tell him (not ask him!) beforehand that you do not consider him to have made a sufficient contribution for authorship and you are not including him as an author.
    – arboviral
    Aug 10, 2016 at 7:10
  • He never admits data breach and continues to exhibit the affiliation with the organization without consultations with the organization. Thus people will think it is me violating the rules of the organization.
    – user12586
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:33

I have proved every single result, every single calculation, and every single sentence of the paper. He did not do anything.

There are different criteria for determining authorship, but at least you must do one of the following:

  • Provide funding OR
  • Provide or gather data OR
  • Participate in the analysis OR
  • Preparation of the manuscript

It seems your co-author, regardless of his lack of action regarding the data breach, hasn't done any of this, so he wouldn't qualify for authorship even under the most generous criteria.

  • I will appreciate any references.
    – user12586
    Aug 5, 2016 at 20:53

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