A few months ago, I was assigned a task by my lecturer to create a Decision Support System program in a group of three. The task itself was intended as the final assignment of the course. My group discussed for some minutes and in conclusion my idea was accepted because it's new as far as we know and could really help those who need it.

Unfortunately due to conflicting schedules throughout the last half of the semester I was forced to do it alone. One was on internship and the other guy seemed to be quite difficult to contact.

Well, I don't care how important they see this assignment, but looking at the deadline I thought I'd rather do it alone than abandoning the assignment. I know it was wrong and foolish, but I needed the grades. I could always teach my group members how to make programs like this one. I thought as long as I ensure they too experience something like what I did in this work, I guess I can let it slide for that single time (of course with a stern warning as a minimum bonus).

OK, so I made the program by myself back then. I asked my other friend about the matter. He was a graduate student and excel at this field to teach me whether my program was effective enough or not. He was surprised that I made the program alone and told me that he thought this work I've done might be eligible to submit as a scientific paper. I've pondered over it and I think he could be right.

As a side note this other friend I'm talking about is actually the one whose master's thesis inspired me to make this DSS.

Then here comes the problem. I want to publish this as my first scientific paper but if I included my groupmates' names it would be a problem. A big problem as they didn't do the work themselves. But at the same time I think it would be weird if I suddenly publish it under my name only.

As they too have their names written on the student's report (and I can't really change that), do I need to make some kind of an agreement letter that state they grant all the research materials to me?


  • Please notice that I'm asking about authorship. I've learned that it was foolish of me to write their names on the report.

  • I certainly need to ask my lecturer's opinion about the material, but my predicament above (or perhaps my guilty conscience) barred me from directly asking the lecturer.

  • I want to limit my question to authorship matter. Thank you. :)

  • 1
    Your premise that a program you wrote as an assignment for academic credit would be suitable to be published as a scientific paper sounds false to me, with a high level of certainty (I would say at least 99%, given the context you've provided). I would suggest seeking advice from the lecturer or other senior person and not just from a friend. If I am right and the work is unpublishable, I guess you won't need to worry about authorship then.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 14 '16 at 2:24
  • @DanRomik Yes, I certainly need a lecturer's help in this matter. But my foolish deed I explained above made me think again. As for the other friend I mentioned, I asked about hiss opinion mainly because he was a graduate student and having experience in publishing. In fact my DSS program was actually inspired by his Masters Thesis. Dec 14 '16 at 4:04
  • @DanRomik The program itself is a DSS, in which the idea of the content was new as far as I know. And after reading other people's theses, both graduate and undergraduate, I think this work is at the very least on par with the undergraduate ones. Dec 14 '16 at 4:11
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    A couple of points related to the comment by @DanRomik : 1. Your friend being a graduate student almost certainly does not mean he has experience in publishing (he might have published, but calling it experience would be a stretch). 2. Being on par with an undergraduate thesis puts a work very far away from being publishable as a scientific paper. 3. After looking at what a DSS is, I see nothing there that would usually be publishable unless you happened to come up with a very novel way to do some of the things, in which case the algorithm might be (I am not in CS though). Dec 14 '16 at 8:12
  • @TobiasKildetoft Yes, I do realize that. That's why as per Dan's suggestion I will ask my lecturer about the material. Even if my friend's response cannot be used as a valid basis for this matter, I think it will boost my confidence when asking the lecturer. As for the DSS, my program was not intended to make an algorithmic breakthrough in the field. It was an implementation of DSS that as far as I know hasn't existed yet and it was quite needed (I'm sorry, I can't get to the details). And thanks for the critiques. Those really made me think in a broader perspective. :) Dec 14 '16 at 8:48

I suggest that you be extremely careful about this. One of the most distasteful tasks of an Editor is to sort out claims of authorship in articles that have been published. You need to resolve this completely, otherwise it may be disastrous.

In resolving authorship, you must try to contact all your group mates and receive from them some acknowledgement that they wish to proceed as you suggest. If they do not agree, then I suggest that you think twice about continuing. You do not want this issue to spill over into the public arena.

You have to consider, too, the implications of your actions. What does this publication mean for the original assignment? Could the publication of this work retroactively impact on the grades of you and your colleagues? Let me be blunt -- could their grades for this assignment be reduced to zero, adversely affecting their marks, because the publication resulted in a review of your assignment? Now you could potentially be in double trouble!

Finally, say they did agree to allowing you to proceed, you might acknowledge them in your paper just the same.

  • Thank you. I was really anxious about this matter. I had not even thought of the implications. I actually was supposed to meet them today. I guess I should sort it out as soon as possible. :) Dec 14 '16 at 7:41

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