Finished my MRes recently. My supervisor has told me that their ex-PhD student (graduated a year and a half ago) had some results in their thesis that they hadn't published. He asked me to complete some additional lab work and tweak a draft paper the student had put together, then I could be looking at getting a lead author position.
It sounded great initially, but I was a bit curious about the situation with the old PhD student and asked one of the post-docs (who is connected to this work). They explained the ex-PhD student was working on the paper after they graduated, but after some personal situation (unsure what but sounded serious) they basically vanished and were uncontactable.
I was a bit uneasy about this. I asked my supervisor and whilst they said the PhD didn't confirm they were happy to have someone else write their paper they didn't respond to emails saying that the supervisor was planning this. So from my supervisor's perspective this is all above board.
For extra info I looked up the university's policy and it says that the copyright for the thesis, and all of the data described, is owned by the PhD student.
Could writing this paper potentially get me in major trouble? Wanting a career in research and a paper would be good but this feels like this could easily go bad given the universities position on IP ownership and it using the work carried out by the PhD student.