In July 2012 I submitted a bachelor's thesis on a machine learning topic. I designed an algorithm that I developed in Java.

Now I have found a publication (September 2012) by my supervisor with all the results of my thesis, including images, with only a thanks at the end for the "Java implementations", but all of the results and the designed algorithm were taken from my thesis. The supervisor has not added anything to what I had already written in my thesis.

For me she had to add my name as a co-author of publications. Of course the supervisor helped me in the writing of the thesis but having only revived my job in publishing, then I was expecting my name as a co-author because she has not added anything new.

What recourse do I have?

One problem is that my thesis, about 140 page, was written in Italian and the pubblication was in English. For this reason I suppose it's hard to write to the Journal to show him my thesis. In addition, my thesis is not published online on any official channel.

The project and the thesis was made by me and one other student with the constant help of her (supervisor). But on the publication the name is of Supervisor, Co-supervisor and one more people (i suppose this people have translated 140 italian page in 5-6 english page) but why not me?

In add now I'm in other city, in other university and now i have no bridge between my supervisor.

If i have no more contact (only an email) with supervisor is there any way to write to the person who published that? and how can I prove that content is that of my thesis?

  • 3
    Welcome to Academia.SE. On this site we try to answer clear, answerable questions. It might help if you had a specific question rather than "Give me your thoughts." Examples might include whether this is ethical or what you can do about claiming credit or correcting the problem. Please edit your question so you can get some useful answers.
    – earthling
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 2:55
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    Did your supervisor help you only with the writing of the thesis, or with the content as well? It is possible that the acknowledgment in the paper is for what is, from her perspective, your original contribution. This does not necessarily make her behavior correct; I'm just trying to explain it. I think the first step has to be to talk to her about your concerns and raise the issue of coauthorship. Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 7:04
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    Can you tell us when did your supervisor submit her publication? You said it was published in September, 2012 and you submitted your thesis in July, 2012. Sometimes the submission date would be much earlier than the publish date. This is an important information for us to know.
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 8:55
  • But all of the formula was made by me and adjusted by supervisor. Is not possible that the supervisor know all my thesis in detail, including MY image, before me. Surely She had knowledge of the domain but not of all my work in detail, is nosense.
    – Neptune
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 11:26
  • I was not saying you were wrong. I only wanted to know more information. Now that I know more, I think you have a case.
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 11:42

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately, your story does not seem implausible to me at all. Here in central Europe, some computer science departments seem to have a very lax mentality when it comes to acknowledging research contributions coming from undergrads or non-research master students. In some places, this thinking seems to be so ingrained that even otherwise honest and fair researchers do not even consider putting the name of undergrads on papers despite their work making up a significant part of the paper's research contribution (something that the same faculty would never do and, in fact, consider highly unethical, if the student was a PhD or a master student on a research track). I guess part of the problem is that around here, the majority of students heading for an industry career (which is almost everybody at many large universities) does not care one way or another, so nobody really complains about this practice (which, of course, does not make it ok).

(the following is written under the assumption that what you wrote is actually correct - clearly, my advise is terrible if you vastly overstated your contributions)

If i have no more contact (only an email) with supervisor is there any way to write to the person who published that? and how can I prove that content is that of my thesis?

You should definitely get in touch with your supervisor. Keep the mail friendly, but do make clear that you are not ok with how this has went down. If (s)he is one of those that simply did not consider whether you should actually also be a co-author of this paper, there is a good chance that (s)he is in fact pretty embarrassed by the incident. Presumably, the first thing that the faculty will explain that this "is just the way it works around here". Don't accept this excuse (even though it might be factually true). Be aware that you are in the right here, and that you raising your valid concerns to the conference organisers will at least be really embarrassing for the faculty (and, as stated on this website once, reputation is the currency of science), so you do have some leverage.

Essentially, I think the onus is on the faculty to come up with a solution here. It is not like you need to think of a way how this can be resolved sufficiently. Maybe your supervisor will think of a solution for your issue that is acceptable for you. As a last resort, you can contact the organisers of the conference, as stated by just-learning, and give them the information that you also gave us above (now deleted). Be aware that you will likely gain little by this move, though - presumably, either nothing will happen or the paper will be removed from the proceedings. In any case, the reputation of the authors will likely be tarnished quite a bit by this incident, and, as stated in another answer, you will have certainly burned all bridges with this group of people.

  • "Very lax" doesn't seem like the right way to say it—"lax" suggests "permissive," when you mean "forgetful" (to be charitable). And, for what it's worth, I'm a faculty member in Central Europe. I give credit to people who do the work—including bachelor's and master's students.
    – aeismail
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 15:42
  • My only fear is that she knows someone in my current university and she make me life impossible (eg for my next degree which will take place in a few months). What i wrote is correct, I have make a great job with she, and she was very helpful and I am certainly grateful for this. But in this work i have spent my time too. Is my thesis. If i make a Ph.D concourse (I'm really taking into consideration) the pubblication make points! It's a good idea to wait the graduate before doing something ?
    – Neptune
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 16:32
  • What can I write to be friendly? "I saw her publication xyz and it seems to resume my thesi's work. I would preferred there was also my name like co-author"?
    – Neptune
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 16:36
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    Well, tell her that you have seen that paper and that it clearly uses some of your results (and figures!) without listing you as author.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 18:24
  • I have this idea: I wait my degree and then i write her an email. If i'm out of university she can't make me any "damage" i suppose.
    – Neptune
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 11:14

The primary question here is what you would like to see happen.

It sounds like you are angry that your work was plagiarized, but are scared that it will impact your current work.

Typically universities have an ethics group or commission. Look into one at your past-supervisor's university. These groups often keep their work secret and use mediation to resolve such issues. That would be a good place to start to know the options available to you.

Good luck!

  • I want my name on this paper, it's possible?
    – Neptune
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 20:45
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    Yes, that is possible. But there are couple of factors that will determine this: 1. If the university supports you, and finds that the supervisor plagiarized your work and you should be an author on that paper. Then the supervisor has to make amends and get this sorted out with the journal. 2. The governing rules of the journal where that paper was published. To my knowledge, journals want to rectify such mistakes as they want to be known as reputable publishers. But each has different rules about such matters.
    – Emme
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 21:57

If this paper was published in a journal, you can write to the editor and state your case (or better, if you can, have a senior colleague to do that: (s)he would have more clout with the editor) and ask which are the available options (retraction, publishing a comment stating your authorship, etc.). It would be helpful if your thesis was available online for all that time at some respectable (and easily accessible) place like the University online repository, and the thesis has a reliable date stamp preceding the date of submission of the paper.

Caution: if you follow the above advice, be prepared to burn all bridges with the person who plagiarized your work.

EDIT: Following the suggestion given in comments below by Pete L. Clark: you may wish to consider discussing the situation with the supervisor first and, if you could agree on that, write to the journal together requesting the correction (adding your name as an author) rather than pointing out the plagiarism case. However, be warned that the odds of reaching such a compromise with the supervisor are, in my opinion, rather slim, and you should still be prepared to burn all bridges with the supervisor if the conversation doesn't produce any reasonable outcome.

In any case, it would be extremely unlikely to obtain (supportive) letters of recommendation from this supervisor.

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    Don't you think that the OP should begin by discussing the issue with his supervisor, not with the journal editor? The former could result in an amicable joint publication; the latter will, if anything happens at all, result in a real mess. Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 7:07
  • @PeteL.Clark: Perhaps I've misread the question but to me it appears from the context that the paper is already published, and I doubt that the OP's name can be added to the paper post factum. If the paper isn't published yet, then, of course, following your advice makes perfect sense. Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 7:11
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    By the way: it might be possible to add an author to the paper after it is published. That would certainly be "irregular", but it might be more palatable to all parties involved than retracting the paper for these issues. Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 7:21
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    @PeteL.Clark: if you admit that you are not aware of any example of adding the author post factum, then why do you believe that the retraction is less likely than that (given that the retraction is a fairly standard procedure)? Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 7:40
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    @PeteL.Clark: even though I have edited my answer to take into account some of your suggestions, perhaps it would be a good idea for you to write your own answer, especially given that I already see a suggestion to move our comments to chat and also the story with our comments on my question some time ago... Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 8:13

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