I'm a Computer Science PhD student in a US university. Recently, I worked on a problem and wrote a paper. When I asked my advisor to submit the paper to a good journal (such as IEEE Trans. on Computers), he became upset with me and forced me to submit the paper in a very poor quality open access journal. I need good publications to get a faculty position after PhD. Now I'm thinking to work on some other areas on computer science simultaneously with my PhD dissertation so that I can publish my work in a good journal without including my advisor's name. Can I publish my own work (not my dissertation work) as a PhD student without including my advisor's name?

  • The question has been edited into good shape, so I'm clearing the flags on it… Marcella, I think it's a good question to keep on the site, as it is a legitimate PhD-level question, so I'll not act on your deletion request.
    – F'x
    Feb 22, 2014 at 14:51

3 Answers 3


I think there are actually two questions here. Firstly, the question you explicitly asked:

Can I publish my own work(not my dissertation work) as a PhD student without including my advisor's name ?

Yes, of course you can. Assuming it will be of high quality, it will be accepted. That being said, it is somewhat unlikely that you will be able to generate first-class research completely on your own, without a professor or at least a more senior student or postdoc to help you get started. A problem might be that if you decide to submit to a conference, your advisor may refuse to pay for your conference trip. However, from your previous posts I understand that you work in a field where publications happen mainly through journals, so presumably that is not a big issue.

However, I think you also have a second question that you did not explicitly ask:

Will publishing alone, behind the back of my advisor, help me get a faculty position? (this is assuming that you are indeed able to get some good publications accepted without help)

Not at all. You will need a glowing reference letter from your advisor to have a shot at any reasonable tenure track. Communicating explicitly or implicitly that you decided that your advisor was an "idiot" and hence took matters into your own hands will not in any way reflect positively on you in a hiring process. Hiring committees, by and large, tend to be risk-averse, and your story has a big flashing warning light all over it. What you will need to do to get out of this is transfer, to a different professor or to a different programme.

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    I don't really see how he would not 'like your work get published in a good journal'. It seems to me that there has to be some part of the story missing. Anyway, even if your professor likes you, I still strongly suggest transferring, because I still doubt that you will be able to get Transactions level research going on your own.
    – xLeitix
    Dec 23, 2013 at 11:13

I doubt that any PhD-level scientist in the United States is "too stupid to understand your research," as you claim. Furthermore, you don't have anything other than your own beliefs that the work that you're doing is of sufficient quality for a high-impact journal like IEEE Transactions. Why do you believe the results are significant enough for that?

Furthermore, have you actually made an attempt to include your research advisor as part of your active research planning process, or have you decided he can't help you? Again, as you said, he's a senior member of the department, which means he probably has many more years of experience as a researcher than you do.

Moreover, trying to do multiple projects at once will lengthen your stay relative to focusing on one stream of research. Therefore, I would strongly recommend that you first try to mend the relationship with your current advisor before trying to jump into a course of action that will in the long run likely cause you more harm than good.

Now, all that said, if you can't switch advisors, then you have to deal with the one you have. That means, for now, trying to deal with the situation as it currently stands. For instance, you could ask why the paper you wrote couldn't be submitted to the better journals you wanted, and what you would need to do so that the next paper can be submitted. Get this in writing. Then, this will give you additional ammunition, particularly if what he demand is unreasonable. And with respect to the situation of asking other researchers what they think of the quality of the paper: next time around, when the paper is ready to go out, ask your advisor if you can send it out to some of his colleagues in the field as well as your sources, and solicit their opinion about where it should be published.

Another concern here: where is your thesis committee in all of this? If your work is of sufficient quality to merit publication in better journals than the one you're submitting to, then they may be able to get your advisor to cooperate with such a strategy.

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    It sounds like your advisor is not stupid—he's indifferent to your work, which may be even worse. As for your thesis committee, they need not be actively interested in your research per se. They should be interested in your development as a scientist. If that's not the case, and you can't get them to talk to you about even professional development, then you very well may need to find yourself a new advisor (even if this unfortunately means starting over at a new school).
    – aeismail
    Dec 23, 2013 at 9:57

Yes, it is absolutes fine. You can publish your research independently. I my self have such an experience. When it comes to individual opinion or perspective articles, sometimes this may contradict your advisor's viewpoint (in my case, it did and he turned down my paper from submission). But I took a chance in submitting and to all our surprise the paper has been cited well. After all, only change is permanent.

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