Q: Can I submit a paper without informing my co-author?

Detailed Question -

I wrote a manuscript to submit it to a journal and I cannot let my supervisor know about it because he doesn't show any interest in it. But I want to publish this work. However, his name is included in the paper as a co-author.

1 Answer to this question

No, you cannot publish an article without informing your co-author and getting their approval. This is highly unethical, and can be damaging for your reputation.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has provided a set of guidelines meant to help researchers decide who qualifies to be an author. According to these guidelines, an author should have:

  • substantially contributed to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data
  • drafted the article or revised it critically for important intellectual content, 
  • provided final approval of the version to be published, and
  • agreed to be accountable for the work.

These guidelines will help you decide whether your supervisor qualifies to be a co-author of your paper. If he/she has made significant contributions to the study to merit authorship, you will have to take his/her approval before submitting the paper to a journal.

If, however, you have conceptualized and conducted the research independently and written the paper yourself without any significant intellectual inputs from your supervisor, you can publish it as a sole author, without including him/her as a co-author. In this case, you can submit the paper without informing him. 

Recommended reading: