I have a horrible experience with my PhD advisor. He is the worst person to have as a PhD advisor. I should have judged him before but after 4th year of my program, I got what kind of a person he is.

Despite all these, I continued for my degree and will finish it in a year. I have almost decided if I apply for post-doc position, I'll not include his recommendation letter.

One big reason for this is the a "very serious academic misconduct" He did with me. I have documentation with proofs.

I will be very grateful for your suggestions/experience regarding my situation.

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    Welcome to Academia.SE. What is exactly your question?
    – The Doctor
    Jun 12, 2018 at 17:56
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    What was the "very serious academic misconduct", plagiarism?
    – peterh
    Jun 12, 2018 at 19:10
  • is swapping advisors completely out of the question at this point? Assuming that this is as terrible as you claim, someone on the university would probably facilitate that.. Jun 12, 2018 at 19:33
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    Are you afraid he will write bad stuff on you? That would just look bad on him, and if you actually have proof of his misconduct, you could retaliate. He's not going to risk that unless he's mad. Or are you just sulking, thinking you can raze him by not asking for a recommendation? In that case, think again.
    – Karl
    Jun 12, 2018 at 19:35
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    @nero_bin I saw people changing advisors on the day of depositing the thesis, 60 days before the defence... Please do check with the chair/dean/etc of your department. Or embrace the advisor and get a good LoR. Advisors help a lot, not only for posdocs... Jun 12, 2018 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


One of the largest fears of the people judging your applications is that they will be falsely accused for some "serious misconduct". And now you want to apply to them, accusing your ex-prof with a "serious misconduct" in your application.

You are harming yourself and not him.

If you decided to not start anything against him, you abstained your right to intervene. Accusing a prof with some serious is a really hard thing, best if you are far, far away from anything even similar to that.

If you didn't do anything at the time he committed the misconduct, and if you "defame" him later, retroactively, it looks very bad for you.

Even if you have documents and proof. The first question what would you hear: "And why didn't you do anything at the time?"

Despite that you had the obvious reason to not do anything at the time.

Furthermore, the people judging your applications probably won't know what he did. The strength of your application should be the possible strongest in their eyes, and not in yours. Missing his recommendation letter may be understable - for you -, but it will look very differently for them.

They will simply think that you don't have a recommendation letter because you are bad. And anything what you say about the case, will most likely further decrease your estimated value in their eyes.

Logic would dictate, the best would be in your case if you could somehow utilize the power of your proofs to let him to help you on your academic career. However, any possibility I can think for that, would be far more risky for you, as for him.

I am sorry to say, but I suggest to play this: "everything were happy, look what a wonderful LoR I've got". This maximizes your chances in the future.

  • Thanks for your answer @peterh. Your answers makes a lot of sense. Since I'm international student, I felt this is irony why your future career depends mostly on your PhD advisor and not on your own ability. I almost felt like even if you are hardcore science students, you need to play politics based on your situation.
    – nero_bin
    Jun 16, 2018 at 7:45
  • @nero_bin It depends much more on your actual product as in the job market. Being an international student is non-issue. How important thing was what he plagiarized? If it was the discovery of your life, then it is a different case.
    – peterh
    Jun 16, 2018 at 11:52
  • There is a point of being international student. I found that if I'am from well known countries, he will know that I know the rules better and will not do dare to do that stuff. Another point is in my home case, it does not matter who you worked with for your degree - it doesn't have that great importance as in here in us.
    – nero_bin
    Jun 16, 2018 at 11:56
  • @nero_bin Direct discrimination would be far more risky for the committers as for the targets. Indirect, hidden discrimination often happens, but this whole thing looks unrealistic to me. Can you convert the thing into a nice motive for the Prof, to give you the possible best LoR? Saying, that you could even help him in his projects?
    – peterh
    Jun 16, 2018 at 12:04
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    @nero_bin Btw, I think this site can help you a lot in "political" matters. For example, if you had asked this question at the moment that the prof committed that, you could have got likely much sympatetical answer(s). If you have a problem, time is crucial, ask it on the spot!
    – peterh
    Jun 16, 2018 at 12:55

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