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I am a PhD student and my supervisor has asked me to make some significant contributions to a book which he is trying to publish.

He has asked me to proofread the book (English is my native language but is not his) but has also asked if I could effectively rewrite some sections to improve the communication and structure of the book.

I am happy to do the work but would like to agree beforehand how my contribution should be recognised. As I will not be contributing any technical knowledge to the book I feel that co-authorship is not appropriate, especially as the book will be aimed at experts in the area so the content is more important than the communication. However, I would expect more than, say, a mention in an acknowledgements section.

Does there exist some sort of compromise between co-authorship and an acknowledgement which would better reflect my contribution?

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    I have seen many books whose title page includes "with the assistance of xxx", such as this book and this book and this book and . . . Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 17:17
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    There are several possibilities, but my first advice is to contact the publisher to ask them what they suggest for more substantial contributions. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 19:54
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    If you aren't going to be a co-author, then I think you should ask to be paid for your copy-editing services.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 19:56
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    Your question not having been proofread very effectively suggests that it might not be a bad idea to take this on as an unpaid and minimally acknowledged project, to gain experience and expertise. However, set up the time frame carefully at the start, so that this project doesn't derail your studies. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 20:30

2 Answers 2

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Sometimes the cover gives only the book's title and the name of the principal author but the title page says:

THEORY OF PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS

by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

with contributions from

Madeleine L'Engle

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There could be an acknowledgment - a sincere gratitude for the important contribution of .... - spelling out your contribution. You are not an author of any kind because all the writing you are doing is merely rewriting his work. The most you should expect is a very kind and sincere acknowledgment. If you are not comfortable with that you are likely asking for more than you are contributing and you should not do the work because you'll become resentful. The tendency of all humans is to over-estimate our contribution to almost everything.

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  • I think this is the right answer in most such cases. It's what I was thanked with twice. The OP has accepted another that suggests an acknowledgment on the title page. Perhaps that was warranted in this particular case. (We don't know what actually happened nine years ago.) Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 19:26

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