Following up on the recent topic of the stresses of being a step (or two) removed from a research project and/or a manuscript owing to being an advisor/co-author, here's a splendid new example of the possible pitfalls of being a co-author.
I was recently a minor co-author on a manuscript submitted by a postdoc. He is an excellent scientist and has published before. He is not a native English speaker, and one of the other co-authors and I did a lot of editing to get the writing/English suitable for submission of the manuscript. The postdoc had the final edited version, and then.. I don't know what happened. He submitted some other, earlier version, and he screwed up various technical aspects of the submission. This did not go well with the reviewers. The manuscript probably shouldn't even have been sent out for review, but I guess the editor didn't look at it closely first. There were comments from reviewers to the effect of "Didn't the senior co-authors read this thing?". I suppose our reputations will survive this episode just fine, but it's a little embarrassing.
The postdoc was in another country during submission of the manuscript, so it was not possible to supervise the process. Nevertheless, future submissions will have to be supervised so that this doesn't happen again.
I review and edit many manuscripts in which it's clear that the native English-speaking co-authors did not read the manuscript (other than possibly the one section to which they contributed), so I know it happens all the time. Aside from being not-so-ethical, this makes more work for reviewers and editors, and I'm sorry that I was inadvertently part of the practice. Maybe some journals have an efficient way for co-authors to certify that they approve the submitted version of a manuscript (?).
9 months ago