thesis supervisor as co-author?

E. Wijsman wijsman at
Sat Oct 11 21:38:02 EST 1997

The issue of whether or not to include the advisor as a coauthor depends
on more than whether or not you have done the actual laboratory work.  How
did the formulation of the problem come about?  Did your advisor help you
come up with the question?  Did the advisor meet with you on a regular
basis to help trouble-shoot, ask critical questions that started up other
important experiments, give critical feedback on writing, or to otherwise
help direct the research?  If the answer is yes, the advisor probably
belongs as a coauthor.  If the answer is no, then you probably should not
feel back about being the sole author.  I have been both a coauthor as
well as a non-author for work done by students/postdocs working with me.
When they do everything themselves, they deserve sole authorship, but more
often than not, there is a lot of behind the scenes help for students.

Ellen M. Wijsman			Express mail address:
Research Professor			1914 N 34th St., suite 209
Div. of Medical Genetics and		Seattle, WA   98103
Dept. Biostatistics 			(Note:  do not mention the
BOX 357720, University of Washington 	 Univ. of Washington, and
Seattle, WA   98195-7720		 use this address only for	
phone:  (206) 543-8987			 express mail)
fax:    (206) 616-1973			email:  wijsman at

On Sat, 11 Oct 1997, V. A. Partridge wrote:

> My question is this:  Are there any guidelines as to whether to include
> one's thesis supervisor as co-author on papers and posters stemming from
> the thesis research?
> I'm an older student, with a number of years of experience in "corporate
> America" before returning to school.  I'm currently writing my masters
> thesis and submitting abstracts to conferences in hopes of presenting
> papers and/or posters.  So far, I've put only my name on the top,
> assuming that since I'm doing the work, I should be the one getting
> credit for it.  However, a colleague (male) has been submitting his
> papers and posters with his advisor (same advisor) listed as co-author,
> yet there is no question that this colleague has done all of the work
> himself.
> I certainly don't wish to offend the wonderful person who is my thesis
> advisor, but yet he hasn't done the work on the research that I would
> expect from someone to be co-author on a collaborative effort.  Is one
> supposed to give one's thesis supervisor co-authorship in return for the
> supervisor's having provided the lab space and the grant which bought
> materials (though not any money for the student)?
> Thanks for your thoughts.
> Valerie Partridge
> valerie.partridge at

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