I have been collaborating with a senior coauthor for a number of years. He offered support and advice for the early years (when few would offer support), and introduced me to key people in the field. I came up with an initial idea and he helped polishing the spin and the writing. Initially, the pieces of wisdom that he would give were very useful, and I learnt quite a bit hearing his weekly thoughts. He has, however, never written mathematics, code, and data for the work, and looking back I realize that he brought confidence and spin, and access to senior academics I wouldn’t have had access to.
But I now realize that I have written 90%+ of the substance of our last two papers, and I know most of the advice he would give me. He changes a few paragraphs and it’s unclear whether they are key to publication; he says so. He’s essentially adding one line here and there, and introducing me to (more) seniors. I am also getting a bit more invitations to speak than I used to and I feel the pace of his contribution is much much slower than mine. He’s also put me as a coauthor with a few other seniors that don’t even answer emails, and I am the most motivated of the team. It’s starting to feel like they are free riding on me. And it’s not fun not to talk to the coauthors.
Perhaps more frustratingly, I realized that he considers the proofs, derivations, and structure of a paper, essential to academia, to be ‘beneath him,’ and it’s become really painful to work with him.
But he also keeps showering me with academic travelling invitations and keeps introducing me to other seniors, which is good for my career. I just find the daily work very lonely and I resent seeing his pictures of social life and fun every week on social media. The pleasure of working on the science is really spoilt by this.
Although I am a lot more invited than I used to be, he gets more coverage and credit for those papers than I do (just in sheer number of talks for these papers).
I am thinking of stopping the collaboration because the actual work doesn’t get done if I don’t develop it and structure it myself. I am also afraid my work wouldn’t get as much coverage and attention.
Advice from the community?