Prof. X added me as a coauthor on a paper , although my contribution was minor. I told him so, he insisted and said it was necessary for me (I can't give details). Later my relation with Prof X seriously soured. I asked that he remove my name from the paper: I already have an OK publication record (about 100 citations) and I didn't want to pollute it with an undeserved paper, especially in view of the souring of my relation with Prof X. I had an essential contribution in all my previous papers. Prof X said it was impossible to remove my name since it was already submitted. I reluctantly accepted. The paper was rejected. Prof X wants to resubmit it to a less prestigious journal. I definitely don't want my name on it. Prof X insists to keep my name, saying that re-submitting the paper without my name might harm his reputation in the community. I can't claim to be white as snow : It's clear that I should never have accepted to have my name on this paper in the first place. I don't want to antagonize him further, but what should I do now ? Is it true that resubmitting without my name can harm his reputation ? Isn't there some way around this ? (My field is Math/Physics/Engineering. I can't give more details).
Standards (and customs) for coäuthorship depend heavily on your field, but if you contributed to the work reported in the paper, you might first want to consider actually accepting coäuthorship:
- Unless you think the work is actually crap, there is no downside (having a few not-so-great papers doesn't actually hurt, even if it doesn't help your career).
- If you worked with prof. X, it might be nice to have something (a paper) to show for it.
- The relationship may have soured, but are you ready to burn that bridge? If he insists on coäuthorship, a flat refusal will annoy him, probably because it would hurt him for some strategic reason.
Now, on the other hand, it's entirely your choice to make. Nobody can force you: if it comes to that, just flatly state that you do not wish to be a coäuthor on the paper. After that was made clear, and in writing, there is little chance prof. X will submit it with your name behind your back: that would be a very severe breach of ethics, and grounds for immediate retraction of the paper when you find out.
Finally, on the question of whether resubmitting without your name can actually hurt him… yeah, it could be an annoyance. There are a few people (editor and referees for the first paper) who would have knowledge that the same paper was submitted twice with different author lists, which definitely gives a bad impression of the senior author.
The relationship may have soured, but are you ready to burn that bridge? If he insists on coäuthorship, a flat refusal will annoy him, probably because it would hurt him for some strategic reason.
This happens more than you think (user6114), it is common. Again the choice is yours. A know a few students that had this "offer". Offer to put someone has co-author or offer to be co-author...the decision is 100% yours.. but ... if the paper was alreday submitted you shouldn't ask to take out your name.
Adding to (and emphasizing parts of) the answers by Fx and MaybeAnotherPhD:
First there seems to be two issues: (1) you were added to a paper by the first author where you did (and still do) not think you deserved it and (2) you now are in conflict with the first author and may not want to be associated with him/her.
I think you can approach this from another perspective. Based on the assumption that you pursue an academic career, does this paper hurt you by, for example, it being bad science, or the first author being a persona non grata in the community? If the answer is no to these questions, I would as a general rule say, leave it. To follow up, there is not much you can do without raising a lot of commotion and probably risk being branded yourself even if that is not true.
I can understand your feeling of not being worthy of co-authorship, and my only comment there is that it is of course not good to be part of a paper if you cannot defend its content in some way or another. But, I think many end up being added to papers where their input may be marginal. I see it as a natural part (problem) of the process. Of course to add people left and right as a rule is something to be combatted, so save your energy for those cases.
Then to cap off by the uncomfortable truth, the system we live in pushes us to publish or perish (as was the title in a Science debate article some time ago). With time this paper is just one of many in your list and simply adds to your publication list. If it is good you may benefit from citations and that might be your reward in the end. In other words being a little pragmatic doesn't hurt.
Gift authorship is unethical. At my institution it is explicitly forbidden by policy. Check if your institution has a similar policy; you may be able to use that as justification for your request.
Also, since you made a minor contribution, I would ask him to simply put your name in the acknowledgments. If he's worried the editor will view this change badly, you can offer to write a note to the editor explaining that you requested the change.
I wouldn't know if people care for a change in the list of authors as long as its length does not become ridiculous compared to the length of the paper.
If you don't want your name on that paper, have him remove it and go all the way! If he refuses you can always go past him and approach the editors directly. Explicitly stating to the editors "I had no part in this contribution" would hurt his reputation more than anything else by a long shot!