I and one of my peers prepared a journal paper out of his master thesis. We submitted it first to one of the well-known conferences of the field and it got accepted and we let the other coauthors know (including his professor, who is a prominent researcher in his field). They seemed to be very satisfied.

Later we decided to extend the paper and I submitted it to a journal. I was not aware that he had not told the others about the submission. The paper was accepted by the journal. This time my peer refuses to make his professor aware.

Now I wonder about proceeding with the publication? Is it ethical? What are the consequences if I finalize the publication, for me?

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    I am not sure I got things right, but it seems this needs to be said: all authors of a publication must agree before submission to submit. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 11:47
  • my mistake was accepting the responsibility of corresponding
    – MimSaad
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 15:57

4 Answers 4


Arno is right 100% Violation of journal's rule can lead ultimately to retraction of the already published paper. For example, if one of co-authors later complain. You can check various stories behind the retractions: http://retractionwatch.com/

  • Thank you, so the consequence is what you mentioned. I probably suspend the process until I receive consent letters.
    – MimSaad
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 16:09

One must not submit a paper for publication without the consent of all coauthors. In my experience, most submission systems will point this out explicitly, but it remains true regardless of such notice.

It seems that for the first submission to a conference, your coauthors retroactively consented (maybe grudgingly, maybe happily). Nevertheless, you should have asked before -- not just informed, by the way.

You then committed the same infraction again, and submitted to a journal without everyones prior consent. Going ahead with the publication without your coauthors consent would be even worse (drastically so!) than the mere submission, so this is not an option. Your professor coauthor would almost certainly find out.

The appropriate step for damage control is to contact all coauthors immediately, apologize profoundly for your mistake, and ask them whether they want to go ahead with the publication. If everyone agrees, go ahead (and never do this again). If someone disagrees, you need to withdraw your submission and apologize to the editor (and indirectly referees) for wasting their time.

  • +1 for advice. No question, my submission of the work was wrong and must personally contact other authors rather than accepting verbal promise of my peer, but at least I am trying to ask the right thing to do while it does not affect me.
    – MimSaad
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 16:44

In theory, all authors should contribute to a paper being written. If you intend to write one, the best is to warn potential contributors beforehand, and ask them before about agreement​ and contribution. In continuing work, preparing the paper with a few workers can be understood, as long as the others are warned about the future submission.

Otherwise, adding co-authors without prior information is unethical, as they have no option to withdraw or participate. Only acknowledgement and citation do require prior consent.


As mentioned before by others, all authors must agree when submitting. And if it's a renown journal like you said, they will most likely send an email to each author to confirm they agree with the publication before it goes under press.

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