Submitting a paper without supervisors as co-authours


HI all. I'm hoping to get some advice on a paper I am planning on writing up.

I finished my PhD several months ago, and have got out a couple of papers from it. This papers were submitted with my PhD supervisors as co-authors, as would be expected. I have since done a bit of extra work on one of them (by myself) and feel I can get another follow up paper out of it. I was thinking about submitting it by myself without my supervisors as co-authors. I want to know your opinions on whether I should do this or not. Its basically an an issue of boundaries of co-authorship, and I'm not quite sure what the boundaries are.

The paper introduces some novel concepts that improves on my PhD work. It uses code and simulation parameters used in my PhD, but no actual data is being used (all the data I am using is newly simulated). The code I wrote for my PhD was virtually all my own work (with a bit of external help). My supervisors had little input to the code. I know its frowned upon to use data from your PhD without inclusion of the supervisory team as co-authors, but this latest project was not supervised by them, only based on work supervised by them.

I do not wish to disrespect their position, or antagonise or alienate them as I there may be a chance I will be working with them in the future. But at the same time, I feel if I do include them I would be selling myself short as their contribution to this new work is really very small. I would like to avoid any ill-feeling if possible, but I also need to think about my own career. Academia is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world!

So would I be justified in submitting with only myself as author? (just for fun, I'll do it as a poll!).

if anyone here faced a similar dilemma or have any comments or advice, they would be greatly appreciated.



*Bump!* Any advice for Mrkdsmith?


What is your subject area? In humanities it is totally normal for students during and after PhDs to submit papers with themselves as sole authors. In that field it isn't the convention for supervisors to be automatically included.


Its a science (medical imaging). I think it becomes an issue with studies that use empirical data as the supervisor contributed the funds to support experimental data collection. But in my case all the data I'm using is simulated (and simulated on my own personal computer) so i don't know if the same thing applies to simulated data or the code written to simulate this data.


I'd just put them on. You are still the first author and that's what matters. They were involved in the work and therefore should be on it. Imagine it the other way round? Would you expect to be a 2nd author? Would you like being a 2nd author? Why not keep them onside? I don't think anyone will look at it and go "oh, looks like prof X did all the work", because if he did he'd be first author...


I agee with Screamingadabs (sp? sorry can't quite remember!)
I'm not sure I can see the logic of leaving them off. Having them there may mean other people look at your work (if you sups are big names in the field for example) and they may also look over drafts for you if included. Plus it keeps them happy which is a good thing if you want to work with them again.


Thanks for the advice guys. You've made me see my predicament differently. It seem a pretty bad call to leave them off. so I think I will go along with what you say.

I think the reason I felt against it was because i had a pretty rough time during my PhD, and the frustrations and all the bad feelings from the PhD has bled into the time I have been writing up papers. This also coupled with the time it takes for them to give me feedback. I am often waiting several weeks for feedback, even after only making minor amendments. Obviously, I cant just do the work and submit the paper with their names on it, so I would have to actively bring them on-board the project, and I anticipate more frustration in doing so, which I would much rather avoid.

Is there any advice you offer in dealing with these feelings? or is this an inevitable consequence of collaboration?

Thanks again.


I agree with the others that you should include your supervisors. I know exactly what you mean about the time and frustration of waiting for comments, and making changes, etc. However, supervisors do have more experience than us in how things should be worded, presented etc, to make a good journal paper that you won't find embarrassing in years to come! Even though it's a hassle, they might raise some useful points. I think this stage is inevitable, as you say, its just another part of the process of publishing. You can always try giving deadlines, like a date you want to submit by, and keep reminding them as that date comes nearer. But waiting a few weeks for feedback is not unusual.



In my point of view, as long as you have your PhD, you should give a try and submit it by yourself. Actually, as long as it is genuinely your own research work, and that none of the new findings were suggested by your supervisors during a discussion, you don't have to. There is a time when you have to fend for yourself. Obviously you will cite the other papers you have written with your supervisors as references, and that's already a good think.

You will maybe have more difficulties, mainly if you have no affiliations. And yes, having them as coauthors will ease the work as well as the process since they will proofread it and maybe suggest some additions that will improve the paper, but it is not a sufficient reason as that diploma called PhD is entitling you officially as a scientist that is able to conduct researches and publish papers. You have spent 3 years, or maybe more, learning how to do so...

However, if you think that, for a strategic reason, adding them as coauthors will have a benefit in the present or in the future, you should maybe think twice. Planning a career need sometimes few sacrifices. Politics & strategy are not evil, as long as you don't overuse them :-)

As a final word, I just want to remind you that the submission process is almost confidential and there is very few chances that proofreaders will know your supervisors and contact them. Not to be gloomy, but there is a probability that your paper will not be accepted and you can then go back to your supervisors...

Anyway, good luck!!

P.S: Maybe you should think about orienting your next research work on a subject that is far from you PhD one and avoid all this headache ;-)