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Suspicious responses to authorship change requests


A journal received a request for multiple changes to the authorship list after the manuscript was accepted. Originally, there were five co-authors. After acceptance, the journal received the following requests from author A, the corresponding author and co-first author: remove one of the co-authors (author D), add a new co-author (author E), reorder the list of authors, and change the designated co-first authors.


Request to remove an author post-publication


A paper was submitted to a journal by authors A and B. The paper was accepted and then published in the journal. Several months after final publication, author A contacted the journal asking for their name and their biography to be removed from the article. Author A stated that they wished to distance themselves from the research.


Change of corresponding author after manuscript published online


On submission of a manuscript to a journal, one of the authors was indicated as the corresponding author. During the submission, review, and revision process, and also through copyediting and proofreading, the corresponding author responded to all emails, signed the publishing agreements, and was generally available. At this time, the authors of the manuscript did not mention a possible change of the corresponding author.


Authorship dispute involving a commercial institution


A paper was published in a journal. After publication, an associate editor of the journal said that they and other colleagues should have been authors on the paper. They cited a patent they helped write that overlapped with the article as proof that they should be authors on the paper. The authors of the paper refuse to add the associate editor and colleagues as authors.


Deceased author and author delaying publication


The journal accepted a manuscript for publication with two authors. One of the authors died before signing the copyright. This manuscript is now ready for galley proof approval from the surviving author.


Authorship of a commentary


An associate editor invited a commentary to be written by one of the peer reviewers. When the commentary was submitted, the associate editor was a co-author. There could be the appearance of a conflict in the decision to accept the article on which the commentary was based if the associate editor is an author on the commentary.

Question for the Forum


Institutions paying authors to be named on papers


Some academic institutions are paying authors for the name of the institution to be included in the manuscript so that the institution has an increased number of publications in a given year. The institution gives the author payment and the author terms it as ‘funding’ or ‘grant’, which is not the case. The author publishes the research article in a journal with two affiliations and explains in the acknowledgment section that the institution gave a partial grant.


Duplicate submission and request for withdrawal


A paper was submitted to journal A and received a ‘revision’ decision. At some point following this decision, the authors emailed the journal to request withdrawal, citing inconsistencies in their data and subsequent conclusions. A search of the literature showed that the same paper (with the same authors) was published in journal B the day before the withdrawal request. Clearly, the authors waited for the acceptance before withdrawing from journal A.


Unresponsive authors delaying publication


The journal received a submission which proceeded through peer review and was recommended for publication. The authors responded to the revision letter, providing a detailed itemised list of changes and revised their manuscript accordingly. The revised manuscript was subsequently accepted for publication. 


Manuscript submitted based on retracted paper


A paper was published in a journal. After publication, the author contacted the journal to ask for withdrawal of the paper because of some mistakes. After careful and considered review of the content of this paper by a duly constituted expert committee, the paper was found to be incomplete due to the dependent variable used in the analysis and the literature review used.