Yesterday, I deposited an online document into my ResearchGate. My adviser prepared this document for a research proposal. I did not change anything and even I did not wrote that document at all because he just wrote that proposal and because my name was there I thought it's a good idea to put that in my ResearchGate account. Because it's already online somewhere and people could find it by searching in Google but it doesn't have DOI. Today, my adviser sent an email to me and said you can't publish something with my name without my consent and you should remove it from ResearchGate. I apologized and removed it immediately. I'm wondering because I did not publish it I just deposited that document into ResearchGate, which is already online somewhere else and people could find that. Furthermore, even I did not write that to need approval for the content because he wrote that completely. Right now it is completely deleted and I don't care really but I just feel that it was true that I should be blamed or not? I appreciate any idea or suggestion.


I don't think my question was vague but I just reiterate my arguments more briefly again maybe it makes it clear.

  1. This document, which we are talking about, has two authors: me and my adviser. So it's not the work of other people.

  2. This document is publicly online in an university website and people could search it in Google, find it and download it so nothing is private, confidential or in the copyright of an publisher.

  3. The document is written by my adviser based on a draft which I gave him sometimes ago So it is not a "new" document which I wrote it by myself to say ok you published something which is not reviewed before publishing.

So, I don't know what's wrong to upload a document, which is already online somewhere else, in ResearchGate for better visibility. I mean it's already out there but because it's not in a public research repository maybe has less visibility and that's it.


I don't think your question is (or was) unclear, but there are a few things you don't seem to consider.

First, each author has a say in a) the final form of the document to be published, b) when to make it public, and c) where to publish it. You seem to think that c) doesn't matter. While my opinion is that ResearchGate generally is pretty benign, your advisor might not agree. However, we don't need to debate the relative merits of ResearchGate to address this question. Suppose instead that your coauthor were to submit your piece of writing to a site you fundamentally disagree with, or one that's likely to reflect badly on your work by association (e.g. a site with a reputation for hosting crank or crackpot papers). Yes, you would be justified in being angry at your coauthor in this situation. To avoid such troubles, it's always best to discuss with your coauthors where, when, and how you submit something before doing so.

Second, when something gets published in a journal you usually sign a copyright transfer agreement. Depending on the journal, you might be allowed to host a copy of the published paper on your personal website but not third-party sites like ResearchGate. In that situation you might actually sabotage getting it published. Now, in this case you say the document is a grant proposal rather than a paper. I don't know if the same applies there or not, or if your advisor might simply want to keep the visibility low on this document, and instead focus on giving publicity to actual peer-reviewed publications later. After all, such documents might contain ideas that didn't work out, or ideas that a competing research group might "steal" if they were to see it online.


Here are a few things to consider.

What it means to "publish" is open to at least a bit of interpretation. Making it available is a form of publishing.

Next, you shouldn't "publish", by any definition, the work of another without permission. So your advisor is technically (and ethically) correct.

Third, it is always advisable to follow the instructions of your advisor. There are exceptions, of course, for when you should follow the advice, but he is still your advisor. If you haven't completed your degree, build a good relationship with him.

However, neither is he permitted to publish your work without your consent and your question wasn't clear enough to determine if he did that himself.

  • I can understand if something wants to be published should be carefully reviewed by my adviser. This document is already online now and you can find it just by searching in Google so nothing is private or confidential or in the copyright of an another publisher. Also, it's not the work of "other people" because I'm the first author in this document.
    – user97402
    Sep 9 '18 at 15:47

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