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I've been collaborating on a project with a researcher in another field (I am being vague on purpose here in case they read this), which so far has pretty much gone nowhere. I've done a few preliminary calculations, though, and they want to publish them - I suspect they are under pressure to up their publication count.

I don't think that what we've done so far is worth publishing; there is nothing actually wrong, but I don't think there is anything new or interesting. I could imagine developing this into something useful, but it is not a high priority for me, and this collaboration does not seem to be working out, so I don't think pushing to hold off on publication would do more than draw things out.

The possible paper is in a field which I haven't worked in previously, but which I could see myself coming back to in the future (it is interesting to me, it is related to my main field, and I've picked up a fair amount about it by osmosis). I'm worried that if I approach other people in that field in the future (and I would need collaborators to get started effectively) the one thing of mine that they will see will be this paper, which will reflect poorly on me (in a way I would like to think is not accurate).

Should I decline authorship of this paper?

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So long as there's nothing wrong with the quality of the work, I'd let the person in the field make the decision about it's worthiness for publication. Often, what's humdrum in one field is new and exciting in another. I've seen people making livings moving routine info from one area to another.

When seeking collaborators in the future, my opinion is that having published a solid, if not exciting, piece of work in the field will be more advantageous than having published nothing.

  • At this point I'm not sure if I trust my collaborator's judgement, but maybe you are right anyway. – Anon Aug 18 '16 at 13:40
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    @Anon -- perhaps its time to use the opportunity to do a little more research in the field so you can make a more informed decision. Clearly, you don't need bad work with your name on it. – Scott Seidman Aug 18 '16 at 13:43
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    If it isn't an interesting paper, it won't be read. Certainly, no-one is likely to remember reading a dull paper on which you were a co-author and hold it against you! – Significance Aug 18 '16 at 22:56
  • Also, remember if you do submit it, you can learn a lot about its importance and its perceived contribution from the reviews. You can also get a clear sense of where to go next with the paper, if your coauthor isn't providing that. – Dawn Aug 19 '16 at 12:48
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I think you should read it carefully and if you do not detect anything you do not agree to keep being an author. It happened to me that I did some works and people did not put me in the authors and I felt very bitter after. So I would be grateful if I had more publications, for positions, grants, etc.

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If the work is in early stages but indicates that its going to be exciting in coming future. You can change the paper to review paper + your early experiment or analysis/ tests.

Once done you can then in your next paper extend it to be more elaborate according to your novel idea. In this case people reading will understand that the work is in starting phase and you have strong knowledge ( depends how clear is your review of related work ) and then what you have proposed and what it can be.

Quality comes with better ideas and writing skills. I have seen people with excellent writing skills presenting their poor work in a very scientic way, and also with poor writing skills presenting novel ideas as something worthless. So emphasize on writing and quality both.

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