I spent a postdoctoral period in China, where I faced number of issues with the administration and supervisor. In short, I felt exploited in many ways, from payment and funding restrictions to being constantly asked to provide unfair “favours” and contributions.
During my stay, I was constantly asked to revise manuscripts for language and suggestions. I am a critical person, and the local culture is refractory to open criticism. Still, whilst my suggestions seemed to be typically ignored and made others uneasy, my lab mates would continuously ask for my opinion on manuscripts under preparation. They usually acknowledged my contributions in the acknowledgments section. Exactly why they would ask me for suggestions when they didn’t seem to appreciate them had always puzzled me.
However, since my departure they have published three papers I have never seen whilst acknowledging me for suggestions. For example, this is the latest of these papers they wrote:
We thank Dr. [other researcher], United States; and Dr. [Scientist], ZZZ, China, for critical reviews of this manuscript.
Awkwardly enough, these are papers directly within my area of expertise, which were surely under preparation during my presence, and first-authored by close colleagues. (Meaning they certainly refrained from mentioning these projects around me, at least in English).
Why would someone acknowledge a nonexistent contribution from a close colleague? Especially on a project that was apparently kept secret? It feels very awkward.