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My question is somewhat related to this one, but with the additional twist that my superior, who could be handling the case, as well as some of my friends, are implicated.

A colleague of mine asked me to do some data analysis for her, which I gladly did. She has published that analysis, even using my own wording, under her name, and also added a number of other colleagues, including our superior, to the list of authors.

Knowing my superior and the other colleagues, I don't believe they wanted to wrong me. They were probably not even aware of the true authorship of the analysis. But, as co-authors, they formally share the responsibility for the publication. I don't want to cause them problems, so how should I handle this?

Edit:

Before the publication, I happened to see the draft and pointed out to the plagiarist that my name was missing. She said she'd add it, but she didn't do it. I don't see a point in discussing it with her any further.

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    Your edit changes the question entirely: Either she agreed to add you, hasn't done it, and published. Or, she has agreed to add you. (The wording published by now hints at the possibility that you're making an assumption.)
    – user2768
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 8:20
  • Contact the editor of the journal, make sure to include all your evidence as proof. Be prepared for the consequences. There are very similar questions on here already so you might find this gets closed as a duplicate.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 8:44
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    Everyone: please recall that we expect all users to communicate in a professional and civil tone. Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 9:53

1 Answer 1

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I am sorry to hear that you find yourself in this situation. Academic integrity is one of the central values around which academic culture as built, just as basic honesty and morality is fundamental to our society. Unfortunately, some people still lack one and the other. This situation is not your fault, but simply an manifistation that unfortunately bad things still happen in academia and in the world.

Consider doing the following:

  1. Drop the case completely. It is damaging to your morale, but it may be the best way to progress your career in this place. Many people do it at some stage of their academic career, and report that in the long term the decision not to engage in a conflict did more good than bad to them. If (0) is not satisfactory for you, procceed to the following.
  2. Collect all evidence that you were asked to do the analysis by the colleague (e.g. emails).
  3. Collect all evidence that you actually performed the analysis (timestamped files, git commits, source code, etc)
  4. Identify people responsible for academic integrity in your department. It may be the Head of Department, the Ethics Champion / Committee, etc. If you are a PG/PhD student, it may be someone in Research Office or Student Office.
  5. Identify people responsible for academic integrity in the journal where the work was published. It is usually the Editor.
  6. Approach people in your department to discuss the situation. You may start by writing a detailed email with well-documented chain of events. Explain clearly what you want to achieve (e.g. they retract the paper, and re-submit with you as a co-author, apologise, etc).
  7. If you are not satisfied with the results of (5), send the email with evidence to the journal. Prepare mentally that at this stage you may be in a serious confrontation with your department and (depending on the culture in your department) it may negatively affect your chances to succeed there.

Good luck.

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  • Thanks for elaborating on point 0. I understand the dangers of reporting the issue. However, not reporting it also carries the risk of establishing a precedent how authorship in our department is handled and have a detrimental effect on my future career, too. Btw., I've already done 1-3, and am thinking of going to 5.
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 9:11
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    I would like to comment in favour of point 0. Make sure that this won't happen anymore by telling all the authors about that and/or engaging in clearer discussions before contributing...
    – Alchimista
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 11:05
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    @Alchimista: Thanks (I'd vote your comment up, but I lack the reputation to do so). This seems to be a good choice. If I understand correctly, you are suggesting a mid-point between 0 and 5: Not letting it go completely, but also not making a formal complaint, but an informal future-oriented discussion.
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 12:44
  • @Aaron yes exactly. Seen this way more or less everyone had this experience...
    – Alchimista
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 10:02

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