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For context, I'm a software development professional, with 17 years in the trade. I studied towards a bachelor between until 2000, but never submitted my bachelor's thesis, as I was hired by a company and, ... reasons. If you are old enough to remember the rush around the turn of the millennium, you will know.

Anyway, I have now made a bachelor's thesis and got it approved. To my surprise, I found that the study I made hasn't been made before, and as a consequence, the results are not trivial, and may have a bearing on a current debate in my field. (In my professional field, that is, not in academia.)

The bachelor's thesis is my own work, meaning that I formulated the problem, I designed and conducted the experiments, I collected all the data, and I made all of the analysis. My supervisor approved my plan, and proofread the thesis, but did not make any scientific contribution to it.

I've rewritten my bachelor's thesis to an article or a conference submission, taking out the most relevant parts. As I understand it, my supervisor should be considered a co-author here - is that correct?

The thing is, I sent it to my supervisor for comments, and he promised to look at it, but then I haven't heard from him in several months, and he does not reply to my attempts to contact him.

I realize this site can't answer questions about how to approach a specific person. What I would like to know is what my options are.

  • Can I remove him as a co-author from the article, even though he supervised the bachelor's thesis?
  • If not - how much do I have to change to be able to do that? Do I have to make a new study?
  • Can I submit it, with him as co-author, without his expressed approval?
  • Is there anything else I can do to raise the awareness of my study without his prior expressed approval?
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    Your supervisor shouldn't be listed as an author on your thesis- that should be entirely your own work. Re. the communication issues, is there a colleague or admin person who works closely with your supervisor who you could ask for the best way to contact him? Could you phone his office or go there in person? – astronat Oct 11 '17 at 7:19
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    Can I submit it, with him as co-author, without his expressed approval? => NO – Mark Oct 11 '17 at 7:31
  • Did your supervisor make significant intellectual contributions to your thesis? Like proposing the overall project or at least substantial ideas that made it into the the thesis. – lighthouse keeper Oct 11 '17 at 9:30
  • @lighthousekeeper Good point. No, he didn't, and I have added that to the question. Thank you. – Bex Oct 11 '17 at 9:47
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    @Bex if it's been several months and you haven't heard from him, I think it's perfectly acceptable to contact a colleague of his. After all, he may be away, on sabbatical or dealing with a personal/ family emergency. A polite enquiry as to the best way to get in touch with him (or if there's a reason why you haven't heard from him) should be fine. – astronat Oct 11 '17 at 17:45
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Can I remove him as a co-author from the article, even though he supervised the bachelor's thesis?

Based on the information that his sole contributions were to approve the plan and to proofread the thesis, yes, you can remove him as an author.

As a common guideline applied in many disciplines, the Vancouver protocol of the ICMJE specifies the following four criteria for authorship:

The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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