Here are four easy ways in which to be an asshole as a co-author.
(i) In case something goes wrong, like if you get a difficult referee report, or if the main author discovers a bug in their code far into the project, use one of the following responses:
- “I warned you that something like that would happen.”
- “The referee clearly hates us. This will never get accepted.”
- “Why don’t you throw the paper into the garbage?”
- “Please remove me from the paper.”
(ii) Make promises about your contribution to the paper, and then just don’t do anything. Ignore any reminder. If someone actually walks into your office to ask you what happened to your contribution, say you will do it tomorrow and then just don’t do it. Repeat.
(iii). Here are 9 effective ways in which to be an asshole regarding comments to the paper:
- Make extreme statements like: “This paper is a total disaster.” When asked for the reasons, explain that one equation that you think should be included is missing. After the detail is fixed, say that you think the paper is now in good shape.
- Do not give any comments. Never cite the paper after acceptance, even if you do closely related work, to make clear that you have never read it.
- Don’t give any comments and ignore any reminders until one day before the planned submission. Then send a huge file with tons of extremely detailed complaints. For an extra twist, say that you had many more comments but no time to write them down, and that you will need another two or perhaps three weeks.
- If you find a typo, don’t explain where the typo is in the text. Don’t explain the nature of the typo. Just list the sentence like it should be after correction, so that it is impossible to even find it with a search function.
- Let all your comments be about the spelling of your affiliation and complaints about missing references to your work.
- Add a very generic negative comment like: “I am not really convinced by sections 1–5. They are generally too long and some of the content is a repetition of some earlier work” or “Are Fig. 1 and 2 really necessary?” when those are the main content of the paper.
- Write, “This will be difficult to get accepted.” Give no reasons why.
- Make myriads of totally mysterious changes to the sentences that might be improvements and might not be. For example “We now proceed to…” –> “Next, we will…”.
- Find the obscurest possible thing to complain about, and complain about it at length.
- Ask questions that clearly show that you have not read the text at all. “Why do you not explain method B?” when there is a subsection titled “Method B”.
- As only response, totally rewrite the abstract, so that it does not fit the paper anymore, and say that it is necessary “to get any citations”. Especially if you are an important professor, there is a chance the main author will not dare to reject your only contribution. If the referee then sends angry comments about the misleading abstract, putting him in a bad mood about the entire paper, proceed to point 1.