1. About
  2. Features
  3. Explore

When I was a graduate student in the 1980s, I translated a treatise written by an important artist into English. A person who at the time was an assistant professor approached me about it. Flattered by the professor's interest, I gave him/her a copy. Soon thereafter, I asked for my translation back, but the professor asked to keep it a while longer. Since I was a student, I was afraid to insist on its prompt return.

A few years later, the professor found a publisher for the translation. We signed contracts with the publisher in which we were both designated as co-authors. The professor claimed to have "reworked" my translation and we are both credited on the title page as translators. The professor wrote an introduction and edited the translation so the professor's name is also on the title page as editor.

Recently, it has come to my attention that the professor, who is now an emeritus professor, is claiming to be the sole author. I recently attended a conference where the professor gave the keynote address. The professor was introduced as the sole author of this book. I decided not to say anything at the time since the introduction was spoken and I couldn't prove that my name wasn't mentioned. However, I recently came across the professor's written biography on the internet where the claim is made that "[the professor's] book presents an edition, translation and . . . commentary" of the treatise.

Should the professor mention my name in connection with the translation in such a circumstance? If so, how do I go about getting the professor to do this?

I should mention that the professor has done many collaborative projects and in every case other than our book, the other collaborators are mentioned in the biography. Also, there is a long history of my having to remind this professor to acknowledge my work. Before our book was published, the professor gave a conference paper on the treatise and didn't mention that I had translated it. When I call it to the professor's attention, the professor said it was an oversight. The next time it happened and I mentioned it to the professor, I was told that the project could have been done without me. Every time it has come up, there is a new excuse.

There is no question in my mind that the professor is intentionally leaving me out. My question is whether it is worth pursuing since my name is on the title page of the book itself as a co-translator and other scholars will see it there. It really bothers me that the professor is claiming credit for my work by omitting my name.

1 Answer 1

This strikes me as a "borderline" or "shady" issue. Basically, the professor is trying to maximize his visibility at your expense, something he wouldn't do with a more senior colleague.

From the look of it, he's done the bare minimum for you legally. In other situations, I've advised the OP to "see a lawyer" but I'm not doing so here. To use a phrase made famous by a former American President, the professor's actions look to be "legally accurate but not volunteering information."