I was a junior academic that was ousted by a HoD to take over my PhD students and collaboration projects. Previously when I was still in the department, I offered him to co-supervise one of my PhD students, but he declined, citing that his expertise is outside the domain of this work. He couldn't even pronounce a terminology in the project.

After I left this place, a paper was published in a top journal recently, without including my co-authorship. I was not told about this paper before, but I had discovered it myself on the online domain recently. This HoD was put as the first corresponding author. I was informed that he had "tricked" the student into picking him as his supervisor, citing that it was at the recommendation of the Graduate School after discussions with the Head. This student is paper prolific, so it is no surprise that he published so quickly after I left. I had previously guided this student to target the work at this top journal, but after I left, I had not heard from him for a few months, and he did not send to me the draft of this paper.

The student had published work using a software for which the licensing agreement had expired after I left. I was the one who introduced the use of this software and purchased the licence several years ago, and guided the student (we had few publications - lower IF - on this topic previously.) The school did not renew the software licence after I left because it was too expensive for it. It is quite common, however, to use pirated softwares in this part of the world.

Any suggestions to resolve this?

  • 5
    This does not seem like a single question and seems a lot like a rant. Jun 22, 2020 at 23:21
  • This is the context of the question - how to resolve the issue of publication with missing lead author.
    – affiny
    Jun 22, 2020 at 23:28
  • 4
    What is it that you want? Do you want the paper to be retracted because you never consented to its publication? Do you want the head of the department to be punished for using pirated software? Jun 22, 2020 at 23:44
  • To seek fairness. Issue is I do not know what is fair in today's corporate world. Hence advice needed.
    – affiny
    Jun 23, 2020 at 7:48
  • Could you add paragraph breaks to make the question easier to read?
    – Tommi
    Jun 23, 2020 at 9:24

1 Answer 1


OK, I'll attempt an answer here. The question, as I interpret it, is how to resolve the situation where your colleague published research that you had advised, without including your as coauthor.

I am in a similar situation myself: a much senior colleague has commandeered my student's work and is attempting to publish it without me. Like you, I am livid.

But, I've put a lot of thought into this recently and my opinion is that you should take the "high road", i.e. where you can claim moral superiority. If you do anything that can be viewed as vindictive (e.g. reporting them for software piracy) then it will likely do more damage to you than to him.

So what can you do? Well, unfortunately I don't think there is much. The academic system can be grossly unfair, and there are people that take advantage of that. All we can really do is either quit (a strong temptation of mine) or learn from the experience and move on.

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