I have been assisting with a project that my friend had come up with. I am doing the entirety of the analysis for it as they have zero research experience and are not able to do anything beyond conception of the idea.

They are not letting me submit it to a conference to present a small part of the project at a very small "conference" (quotation marks because it's a one day event held at a university auditorium for medical trainees specifically), based on the fact that they would like to present first. I have been slightly annoyed by this, and am contemplating withdrawing from the project, which admittedly is a bit of a dirty move.

That being said, if I do withdraw from it, could/should I ask for any and all analysis done by me to be removed and not used?

Or should I just bite the bullet and let them just carry on.

  • 2
    Why are you offended about them presenting first? Especially if it was their idea. It would seem that the best overview would come from them. You can follow up with details. What is the issue, really?
    – Buffy
    Jan 18, 2019 at 17:11
  • 1
    So, they would like to present first.. Have they actually got a slot to present or is this wishful thinking on their part? If they don't have an actual date then you should consider what are your reasons to continue or should you move on. If they do have a date for a slot, then get written agreement that you can present your part wherever and whenever you wish. If they don't agree then you can probably use your time better elsewhere...
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 18, 2019 at 17:46
  • Tough situation and I don't know the answer. You could consider an ultimatum. Another approach is just to go to the conference and present. Buddy can probably stop a publication, but I don't see how he can stop a talk. (Not pushing these options, but just listing ideas.)
    – guest
    Jan 18, 2019 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


Withdrawing is a loss-loss situation and I will not recommend it. You have done your work and they seem to have the motivation to release it some day. If you withdraw now, the work is gone, tension arises, friendship threatened. These are not worthy for a short moment of revenge-induced pleasure.

If you feel your input is so instrumental then take this as a lesson to bargain better; in future when similar collaboration comes along, make "have the right to present at xxx conference [year/month/day]," or similar terms as your condition. You should also raise the issue of authorship from the get-go.

Ascending one more level, if you're indeed that much more experienced than the team in terms of how the research realm works, why not help them further? Connect them with this very meeting that you plan to attend, and propel the work forward by letting more people know about it.

  • Yeah. I am regretting not having set out more clearly what I am offering to help with. I underestimated how much I would have to help him, and it's basically come down to the point where I am just feeling it's not worth my time and effort to help him see this to his end.
    – lhs
    Jan 20, 2019 at 18:09
  • Sometimes you have to show the whip hand. I would cut it short. Dude lacks a feeling of helping collaboraters. I definitely don't understand stopping a collaborater from using something they need in their own area. Don't bind the mouths of the cattle that grind. Actually, you should each try to get a pub in your individual areas. you can usually slant that especially if we are talking conference papers, not full up journal papers. (Conf paper for one might be heavy on apparatus and light on results and vice versa.)
    – guest
    Jan 20, 2019 at 22:47

What you describe is indeed can be potentially annoying. I agree. The main likely reason for that is that you and your colleagues might had from the beginning different expectations. You think that without your analysis they can do nothing. But they might think that their idea is so genius and thy make you a favor inviting you to work with them. Instead of quitting due to dignity concerns, I suggest you to talk with the head of the project and to adjust the expectations. Tell him/her under which conditions you will be interested to continue the work. You cannot demand something in retrospect because you had not agreed before. But you do can say that for the future conferences you are interested in doing that (Penguin_Knight also suggested that). If what they agree do not work for you, you might quite. But I do not think that it would be fair to ask them not to use what you had already done. They also invested their time and effort. The problem of not adjusting the expectations in advance is the problem of both sides. So, it would not be fair that they suffer an extensive damage.

  • He has the idea that this relatively small project will be significant enough to get presented at an international conference (which... I am doubtful about). And all of these are scheduled for August-Dec, and the insistence that nothing else be done until he has finished is what has gotten me to the point above.
    – lhs
    Jan 20, 2019 at 18:13

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