I recently left a postdoc position (UK) due to the grant coming to a close, and I have moved on to a non-academic post at the same university. I had been looking to move out of academia for a while so this move was completely planned (and wanted!). In the last couple of months of my postdoc my PI decided he wanted me to write up a paper based on the (very little and uninteresting) data that had come out of part of the project I had been working on, but it took so long to decide what would actually go into the paper, that I only had about 2 weeks before finishing my post to write up as much as I could (which wasn't much since I also had to train another postdoc to take over my other project, and a bunch of students!)

I am now only 3 days into my new role which is already much busier than anticipated, and my PI is already chasing me for a plan to finish the manuscript. I am not able to do this during work hours, and also I have no interest in publishing the work (I believe it amounts to pilot data at best)! However I also don't want to burn any bridges with my old PI by ignoring his communication, or get a bad reputation since I still work at the same institution.

Has anyone else been in this position? And is there a polite way of saying that any further work I do will have to be on my schedule, or perhaps invite him to pay me for any more work I do for him? Or should I just suck it up and get it done in my spare time?!

  • 3
    Sounds like a great initial project for their next postdoc!
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 14:27
  • I did say something along these lines many times over the last couple of months, but there are no plans to take that piece of work forward (no more funding, and it didn't really work as well as we wanted!) but still... he won't let it go!
    – user147830
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 14:33
  • 7
    “No” is a complete sentence. Use it. Yes, successful people are in this position every day, and that’s what they use.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


The only issue I see is that your refusal might deny him a publication. That would be the case if your intellectual contributions must be included and you deserve authorship.

But, even in that case, you could say that you can't contribute further, but that you would review and approve a joint publication. Your further participation isn't required in such a case, only your approval of the product.

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