I completed my Masters of Science in September 2014 after over 2 years of work. My supervisor wasn't particularly helpful or supportive of the project since he seemed close to retiring and also most his money was dedicated to other fields of research. However, the field I studied in was my passion and I did it anyways.

Right after my graduate studies, I found a job in the private sector and at the same time I started working on a paper because I felt it needed to be done and I thought it would be important for my career. When I sent my draft to my supervisor, he would submit his feedback weeks to months later, and it was usually something like "It's too long". So I did the edits, sent it back, waited 2 months again for his comments, and so on. In Spring 2015, I abandonned because I could never finish it at this pace, even though most of it was done. His last comment was "Some more analysis could be necessary" even though it didn't seem necessary for the thesis.

Now, it's been 2 years, I haven't touched it since then, but I still feel I should submit the paper anyways. Here are my questions:

  1. His is too late for me?
  2. If I send the paper for review, do I need to put my supervisor as secondary author?
  3. If my supervisor is secondary author, do I need to notify him? Could he refuse?
  4. If reviewers demand that further analysis is required, is it game over for me? I did most of my work on a supercomputer and my account has expired.
  • Go for it, Johnny -- but you need a mentor. Look at related papers and pick a few people to reach out to. Also, could you do a little proofreading of your question, please? (Click on "edit" below the tags.) Sep 15, 2016 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


Two years is a totally plausible length of time before submitting a paper. You'll need to update your related work section, but if the work is still novel and interesting and hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed venue, it's entirely reasonable to do so.

You will need to deal with your supervisor, however, as they most likely should be a co-author on the strength of their contributions to shaping the research project. In general, submitting a paper requires the consent of all of the co-authors, and your supervisor will need to either consent or take their name off of the paper. Most likely, however, they are correct that it needs more work, and you'll need to figure out either how to get the feedback that you need, from them or from somebody else.

Finally, involvement of your supervisor could be a very good thing in case more work is needed, as they may be able to restore access to resources or bring in an extra author who can help, if your work simply cannot be done on commercial cloud resources. If it can be done with cloud resources, of course, you may be able to do it yourself.

  • 2
    @LeonMeier I don't think that's a safe assumption. One of my higher cited papers sat in a similar limbo for two years, despite having many co-authors who all wanted it published. The problem was actually that the senior author, on whose desk it was languishing, cared too much and was always planning to set aside enough time to deal with the paper properly in a couple of weeks.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 13, 2016 at 21:17
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    @LeonMeier Again, you are making very specific claims that are not currently written in the post. Furthermore, if the OP's supervisor really cares so little, they'll likely be willing to take their name off the paper, thus following the other branch I describe.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 13, 2016 at 21:27
  1. No.
  2. Yes, if he actively wrote something. If not, put him into acknowledgements.
  3. If you are on bad terms with him and he doesn't answer your emails but in several months, there is no point in notification: he cares so much about you, your paper, your research, your time, and your thesis. Yes, if you do notify him, he could refuse being a part of it.
  4. No. It is just a matter of money to get distributed computing services.

Please be aware that writing a full paper may be a full-time job in certain areas: you need a full day of concentration. If you do it properly, it can easily take you, e.g., 6 person-months including rejections and resubmissions, depending on the area. If it's a journal paper, these 6 months could be spread to several years. If you cannot do it properly in parallel to your job in the industry, better forget it. The world is full of bullshit papers; you don't need to turn your good MSc thesis into yet another one.

  • 6
    I was going to vote this up, but then I realized that there's a couple of simply incorrect statements: you do have to notify your co-authors, and writing papers does not need to be a full-time job.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 13, 2016 at 21:03
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    I like your points 1-4. I don't like the next paragraph so much. Please don't project your own experience on the OP. The OP needs encouragement right now. Consider that the OP will take lessons at the same school of hard knocks that you did; let him have those experiences and draw his conclusions for himself. Sep 14, 2016 at 3:26
  • @LeonMeier - Yes, I understood that. But my question for you -- I'm not sure whether you had thought this through -- is: Is it your goal to discourage the OP from doing the necessary work to submit the paper? Sep 15, 2016 at 4:15
  • @LeonMeier - If you decide to consider it in this way, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. Sep 15, 2016 at 16:23

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