I started working at a new university one year ago. Within this year I started working with a colleague, who before we collaborated had no experience on research, i.e., he was on the teaching side. We developed a couple of proposals, with me as principal investigator. One got rejected, and a second got accepted. We also started to work on initial ideas for a couple of papers, without any substantial work or input from him, i.e., I identified the journals, the theme for the paper, the structure, etc.

With the initial funding that got accepted we made a research trip to the university of my previous employment, where I still have collaborations. Within this process my colleague decided to apply for a position there, and while preparing his CV he omitted my name from his CV listing, for example, the projects with only his name as co-author, or co-investigator with no investigator listed, under directions from the new Head of my previous place of work that a disassociation or omission of my name might make it easy for my former colleagues to offer him a position, as I did not get along with a couple of them. I found out when he gave me his CV to review and I asked him to add the credits to those projects and future papers, indicating that there were credits messing for other people as well. I mentioned how this was unethical, including the fact that papers that were not yet written should not be mentioned. He disagrees and believes that this was acceptable, so long as he did not claim he did the whole work himself, alluding to the readers of his CV that other people are involved as he is a co-author.

Having spent all my academic life being extra careful with details and credits in my CV and others', as some time that is all a person gets for academic effort, I wanted to ask whether you find this behaviour ethical or unethical within academia?

1 Answer 1


Some of what your colleague did is unethical, some of it is not.

For listing grant funding, I haven’t seen a whole lot of official standards for how they should be presented. Listing one’s own role (PI, co-I, etc.) should be sufficient. One need not list all the principals for the grant (unless specifically asked).

However, when it comes to papers, leaving off who’s a coauthor on a paper is definitely unethical. It’s also unethical, in my view, to list a paper that you couldn’t produce if asked. So anything that’s just in the planning stage should not be listed.

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