Recently, I have ran into some issues about reproducibility of some of my research results which are obtained by our collaborators from different university. In fact, in our current repository there are some saved figures and plots which are significantly different from the results of current scripts written by our collaborators. I knew this issue from the beginning but our collaborators explicitly mentioned in their emails that those results are not relevant and the current results which could be obtained from current codes are credible to use, so I didn’t care too much and just used the current results which seem more relevant to me for my presentations, proposal, etc. Recently, my PhD advisor tried to prepare a presentation based on those results and I don’t know why he insists to reproduce those old results which are not matched with current results obtainable by current codes. He sent me an email and its language was like it’s my fault that we could not reproduce those results from collaborators. As a result, I’m thinking am I the one that should be blamed here really? BTW I sent an email to our collaborators and asked for clarification which I didn’t get any response yet. Any ideas or suggestions are appreciated about how to deal with this problem.

  • why don't you just send an email to your collaborator with your adviser in Cc? "Dear Collaborator, I am trying to reproduce some results for Prof. X's presentation, however I am not able because of changes you might have made to the scripts. Can you please clarify blabla?"
    – Anon
    Nov 12, 2018 at 11:43
  • @Anon I mentioned that I sent an email to collaborators and I cced my adviser as well but still no response. Nov 12, 2018 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


This is a grey area, and there are people on both sides of the fence. Take a look at the Schön scandal, especially the "responsibilities of coauthors" section of the Bell Labs investigative committee report. Some summaries:

  • Co-authors share a significant part of the credit.
  • If amazing results are reported, then the simple presence of a well-known researcher as a co-author gives credibility to the paper, even before it is reproduced.
  • However if a co-author's work turns out to be wrong, inaccurate, or (even worse) fraudulent, everyone else's name on the paper is suspect. Negative reputational damage is virtually assured.
  • ... nonetheless, at least in this particular case, all the coauthors were exonerated of misconduct.

Notably, the committee agrees that it's an "extraordinarily difficult" question, and they don't feel qualified to make a specific judgment. Therefore, you'll have to draw your own conclusions about what it means to be a coauthor, and make your own decisions on whether or not you care about being able to reproduce your collaborator's results.


It sounds like you are in a difficult position, but, yes, if your name is on a publication or report, people will assume that you are responsible for everything in it.

It may be that you have been caught by your own carelessness, of course, accepting something you weren't sure about because they "seem more relevant to me". It is hard to be definite here with so little information, but perhaps you need to be more careful.

But the situation now needs some resolution. This is something you need to work out with your advisor and perhaps your collaborators. I think the only way to really solve it is to have a general meeting where you discuss the situation. Someone, somewhere, seems to have been making improper assumptions. Perhaps there is shared blame here. But if all fingers are now pointing at you, then you have to work to find a general resolution as the situation isn't likely to change without your action.

Your attitude in such a meeting should be "this is what happened... this is what I assumed... this is why I acted as I did", being entirely truthful. Some of the blame may fall to you, but better that it be worked out than that it not be.

  • I didn’t judge based on only “seems relevant to me”. As I mentioned in the question collaborators explicitly mentioned that those results are not correct and final results obtainable by current codes should be taken as our final results and be presented or used everywhere. This mention that I’m saying is about some emails that mainly are sent and received between my advisor and our collaborators. So I assume my advisor read their e-mail carefully and he knew that those old results should be removed. Why I didn’t removed those results? Cause they are obtained by collaborators not me. Nov 11, 2018 at 18:30
  • Also again I would like to say I didn’t accept blindly anything cause I read their code carefully line by line and compare their results with similar results from literature and after that I’m saying they’re results “seem more relevant to me”. So, I’m not judging based on pure speculation. Nov 11, 2018 at 18:39
  • I was just quoting you. A longer excerpt: "I didn’t care too much and just used the current results which seem more relevant to me for my presentations, proposal, etc.". That is why I suggest that part of the problem may lay with you. But it is your advisor you need to convince, not me. People will naturally assume that you are responsible for things done under your name. It is too late to go back in time, of course, so you need to figure out how to get out of an uncomfortable position in a satisfactory way.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2018 at 18:43
  • ICJME does not hold every author responsible for misconduct by a different author. Rather you are only responsible to investigate claims of misconducted. See for example my answer academia.stackexchange.com/questions/42136/…
    – StrongBad
    Nov 11, 2018 at 18:48
  • 1
    Again, it is your advisor who needs convincing. No, I don't think you are entirely to blame. Yes, it is likely shared. Go talk to the person that has the issue.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2018 at 19:04

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