I am stuck and I need your experience, ideas, and help.

Background story. I have a supervisor who is giving me critics and always lowers my confidence. For example, when last year I wrote a paper for a workshop by myself, he told me I suggest you not to submit because you will burn your name and this is horrible works, etc. He then said if you insist on sending it don't put my name!!! He also didn't allow me to apply for a doctoral symposium (the most prestigious one, he said you won't benefit). After a year, I was really disappointed in my own work, he was on holiday, and I thought my work is valueless. He also criticizes me for not publishing anything.

My issue: He was on sick leave, there was a conference, and I had some work that if not for this conference, it would be useless for anywhere else. The conference is a C level(computer science) but the only conference in this area of work and all important people in the community are there. I wrote a paper, and because I was really disappointed I submitted it to get some feedbacks. I mentioned my intention of sending the paper to him in an email, probably he didn't see anyway. As a result, he wasn't there and I submitted the paper, now it got a conditional acceptance. This is my first time writing a paper and I was new to the submission. The conference was double blind, and that was why I submitted it anyway. I didn't know where I should put his name or how to submit, I did it anyway.

Problem: Now I am scared to tell him about the conditional acceptance. Should I tell him or just refuse from doing the revisions and acceptance? How can I include his name(I thought initially it would be in the camera ready version, but the email says it is just me as the author)? What should I do? Instead of being happy for my first paper, I am worried and close to nervous breakdown. What should I do? Please help me.

  • 7
    Tell him that you got the paper conditionally accepted. Send him the paper and ask if he would like for you to add him as an author, there is still room for that. Publish the paper one way or the other and congratulations on your first paper.
    – Shake Baby
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 21:03
  • Can I add him as an author? It states in the email that the title and authors name or order are not changeable! Is it possible if I write an email to the chairs and say I made a mistake? I really didn't know about the system and I submitted five minutes before the deadline.
    – Sarah
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • 3
    I had a student who did this. Your supervisor sounded like me. Like you, this student did not listen and submitted a paper to a dodgy conference because he/she thought it will prove me wrong or simply to get a boost in confidence. I withdrew my name, and refused to provide any support. End of the day, reputation is everything in academia. There are many conferences and journals, and only a few really matters. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 21:59
  • 3
    Best thing you can do is talk to him openly. Worst thing ever would be hiding anything from him.
    – Shake Baby
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 22:50
  • 4
    @Sarah I would tell your supervisor. He/she might agree to have his/her name included, depending on the conference and paper. You might get a scolding, so what? The next problem is then whether a conference allows a name to be added after acceptance; good conferences don't allow this because authors have been known to sell co-authorship. I wouldn't withdraw either because you've just wasted reviewers' time; this is unethical. That's why there is a no multiple submissions rule. Lastly, 'IEEE' doesn't mean it's good. 55\% acceptance is not so good. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 6:49

3 Answers 3


Let's go through it one by one:

How can I include his name?

I think he has already made his viewpoint quite clear, when you quote "I suggest you not to submit because you will burn your name and this is horrible works, etc. He then said if you insist on sending it don't put my name"

So, please don't do it. Any academician would be horribly pissed off if he saw his name appear on a scientific article which he himself deems "horrible", or in more polite language, unworthy of having his name on the author list. You are assuming some malicious intentions on his part, but please try to understand that he may have some very valid reasons for saying what he said.

You are only starting out, and are yet to make a name for yourself, but presumably he already has made one. It is a well known fact in academia that respected researchers would prefer not publishing to publishing a mediocre work. That's because, ultimately in academia, a person is only as good as his work. An average work would be taken to mean that the person doing it also has average abilities.

The last thing he would want is to have his reputation being smothered by an overzealous student, who went ahead and presented something prematurely, and puts it across as done by me under Professor ABC. Because then, it won't be about you and you work, it would be about Prof. ABC deeming a premature work as publication-worthy, which he never agreed to!

Thus, in all seriousness, since you are actually going ahead with the publication, you should do that without your supervisor's name.

Now I am scared to tell him about the conditional acceptance. Should I tell him?

While you are not obligated to inform him, it is generally very bad etiquette to hold your supervisor in the dark about these things. Of course, revealing this will enrage him, of course you will draw flak. But that's still a better option than him discovering about this independently, or through other sources (he eventually will find out, one way or the other). And in that case, bridges will be burned completely. So, my advise would be, if you were courageous enough to actually go ahead and submit despite your supervisor telling you not to do so, you would burn lesser bridges by owning up the repercussions, rather than running away from it.

Having said that, be prepared to hear a response to the tune of I'm not going to participate in amending the manuscript now, please do it on your own. Which is completely reasonable. If it is helpful to think of it this way, you will also benefit from the confidence you will gain from making the changes yourself, and getting it published. So, better do it yourself.


(Should I) just refuse from doing the revisions and acceptance?

That would be extremely unprofessional behavior and will decimate your reputation. While manuscripts can be withdrawn, what exactly will you say is your withdrawl reason?

  • "The results are erroneous", then they shouldn't have been submitted in the first place.

  • "We realized the flaws later", that will present you as a person who saw an opportunity to publish and jumped the gun, particularly true if you do it as a single author.

  • "I have some other commitments", that's again silly for a PhD student with the little commitments they have besides their work; you should have foreseen whether or not you would be able to attend the conference, and only then gone ahead with the submission.

  • "Emergency situation excuse", well I have no words how to respond to that, and most likely the conference people would also not have any.

  • "No excuse", that's extremely unprofessional.

So, my advice would be, own up the publication, and please do not even contemplate this option.


Thank you all for your answers . Here is what happened. I wrote to my supervisor about it and he called me in and he was in a great mood overall. But he also said he doesn't want his name in. Not angry at all! However, after he read the reviews, he said I can put his name and helped editing the final version.

The conference was a very focused one and a very good experience. I went to the conference and presented my paper. I received amazing reviews and comments for the paper and my work.

And about his name, I wrote and explained to the organizers and it was OK considering my supervisor's contributions especially in the final version.

Finally, after the paper, he is becoming more supportive in term of letting me work and noticing that the research idea seems to have some fans in the community.

So sometimes you get lucky and it ends up well AND not as a disaster. I learned a lot from your points and I agree that it was a mistake from my side. I just was very lucky this time and the paper has been invited for an extended version for a journal but I could have ruined my relationship with my supervisor forever. I am just happy it ended considerably well.

  • 4
    Do you think you should maybe give the answer points to one of the people who answered your question?
    – Raydot
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 18:18

I think you really only have two options.

The first one is to leave away the name of your supervisor from the paper, pay for all the travel expenses (flight / transport, accommodation, conference fee) yourself, and make sure that the travel and preparation does not interfere with any other commitment at the University you might possibly have (e.g. tutoring). Be prepared though for your supervisor to be irritated (or worse) when he/she hears about this and for your relationship to hit a low. And if the conference is really shady then you will also have the repetitional damage (Santa Claus is right about stressing the importance of reputation).

The second one (my recommendation): talk to your supervisor and listen to him/her, even if that means that you withdraw the paper! Unless your relationship is already damaged beyond repair, you can normally assume that it is not your supervisors primary intention to put you down, but to help and support you -- after all he/she also has an own interest in making your PhD successful. Maybe your supervisor is right that your work is not yet mature enough to withstand scrutiny at a good conference, and has chosen to not sugarcoat this. Your conversation should not be about this paper, but generally about publication / work planning and perhaps also about mutual expectations around both your scientific work and the way you want to interact.

  • +1 (Talk to your supervisor and Listen to him) and suggestion to make the conversation about what makes work publishable, in general, and learning that. Don't be surprised, however, that at this point he will have no trust because you've already proved yourself untrustworthy and not very sensible - that this will spill over in that he likely won't trust anything thinking "what is this student hiding now in order to make the 'facts' fit her ideas"?
    – Carol
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 21:34

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