My Masters adviser (computer science) is demanding I hand over all my work including data sets, code and configurations. I do not want to be overly specific just in case. This seems fishy... or am I paranoid.

  • Notes:

He demanded that "we" publish an additional paper in addition to the thesis. I told him that I did not have time for anything beyond the department requirement of a thesis. He got mad and now its been one thing after another each week. Now, he wants the entire project handed over. The entire experience since my decline of additional paper has been hostile.

  • Has he/she just got a new student? How is this being "demanded" ? "Give it all to me now" or "we should have an update ..."
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:18
  • 1
    Maybe you are paranoid. There isn't enough here to say. The why is all important. Maybe he/she is just trying to be helpful and make sure you are on track. Do you have other issues with this prof?
    – Buffy
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:19
  • 6
    Your thesis advisor's job is to evaluate the quality of your research. It seems to me that they need this information to do so properly. By itself, I don't see why this would be fishy. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:51
  • "an additional paper in addition to the thesis"? A thesis is not a paper.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


This sounds like he sees value in the work and wants it completed. It also sounds like you are refusing to collaborate in its completion and so he feels that he has to carry it on alone. But you hold the data he needs to do so.

Whether he is entitled to the work or not depends on how much he contributed to it. But no researcher likes to leave ideas unfulfilled so he is frustrated and probably acting badly. But if you refuse, absolutely, to help, then you are probably acting badly also. Unwillingness to go beyond the minimum requirements isn't a very strong recommendation.

It would be good if the work could be completed and papers written with your name attached to them. Even if he does the work and lists you as second author in some publications you have gained something.

But withholding the work won't get you or anyone anywhere. Others may actually do the work following similar but independent lines of thought leaving you out entirely. Parallel, independent, work is a very common phenomenon.

If he hasn't contributed anything and you intend to finish the work independently then the story might be different, but that sounds unlikely from what you write.


Yes, you are paranoid, but your paranoia might or might not be justified. There are parasitic advisers who abuse students by stealing data, ideas, and career progress. But there are also advisers who take their role seriously and want to check your work and make suggestions for improvement.

Ask your adviser's former students if they shared these things with the adviser.

Ask some faculty you trust who are not involved in your projects what they think of the request. Try to get a sense of whether it is normal in your department/field of study for this to happen.

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