I am in my 2nd year of my Ph.D. program and I want to submit a poster to a conference that will be held this spring. I brought up this idea to my advisor; she agreed, however she wants me to ask a few members from the lab to join in and help me do the work. My advisor is very positive and nice, and believes in constant collaboration among all members of her lab.

The problem is that I came up with this idea myself (using my advisor's data that she shares with all lab students), and already wrote a full research paper on it for a class project when I was in my first year. I got significant results, and aced both the assignment and class. Everything is already done - the lit review, method, results, conclusion, discussion, abstract, references, tables, etc. Although I am the youngest (rank wise) student in her lab, I definitely have a lot of stats and research experience and feel that I am more than capable to do handle this on my own.

This will be my first poster, so since the work is done, I honestly just wanted my name and my advisor's name on it. She also knows that I did this for a class project. All the other students in the lab are older and have plenty of poster experience. Since I had a toxic Master's thesis advisor at my previous school, I'm always careful of giving my opinion. I don't see any benefit of adding authors to the poster, and I don't really believe in adding your name to something unless hard work was put into it. Even though my current advisor is not toxic, I'm not sure how to bring this up to her without her thinking that I don't care about others's success. Thanks for your help in advance.

  • 3
    Have you asked her what they would be helping you with? Sep 4, 2020 at 20:06
  • Maybe the other students could genuinely help because the material is not as ready as you think it is (all those who are in PhD programs did great at school, but few produce publication-ready first drafts). Maybe she wants them to learn stuff (either about the paper topic or about paper-writing) per Buffy's answer. Maybe she wants their name on one more paper and is involving them for a token contribution. Who knows?
    – UJM
    Sep 5, 2020 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


Depending on how your lab works and how collaborative the work is, you may be right or wrong in this.

However, I suggest you keep a few things in mind. Fighting with your PI is seldom a way to academic success and having the good will of your supervisor probably has more value at this moment than having a poster with a small number of authors.

Also, the supervisor may, actually, be trying to get some of the others an interesting project with which they can boost their learning. Is it possible that she has done this sort of thing for you in the past? For others?

I'd suggest that you might just ask her for her reasoning in this, without appearing to be argumentative.

But you are probably (not necessarily) better off in yielding on this for the sake of your long term goals. Don't let short term goals interfere with the bigger - longer term - picture.

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