After completing my phd, my advisor changed his behavior with me, starting to keep a certain distance, avoiding conversations like the ones we had throughout the phd. About 6 months later, he intimidated me with a video call and then removed me from the position of first author of an article we were writing, one of the results of my thesis. About 10 months later he published the article without my name.

After about a year and a half of defending the thesis, he repeated this, excluded me from authorship for not agreeing to cite the first paper and another result of the thesis of another student. Then he published a new article, also a result that emerged in the already published thesis of his student.

Prior to these two articles, he had published another result of my thesis hidden from me. But I found out and he was very angry with me, even offending me by email.

In this way, he stole the top 3 results of my thesis (perhaps the only ones at the publishing level directly), published them in high-impact journals in the field, intimidated me by email for the questions I asked when I was participating in the preparation of articles and acts like a gangster with his students, robbing and intimidating those who find out.

This fact happened (and currently happens) in Brazil, a country with a high history of corruption, in a renowned university, with a very influential professor in his area, but with several dubious scientific attitudes and postures. During the relationship I had with him, I identified other cases of abuse and improper attitude from him toward his mentees.

I would like you to help me know how to proceed. Do you think it's worth going through local legislation, any international organization that can assess, or divulge his e-mails to the community with the threats and nonsense he said, and even expelled me from the authorship of the works?

Brazil is going through a difficult time in government, being very difficult to have a position as a researcher. I am thinking of continuing the research on my own, but I would not like to open up the results, nor let this be repeated for other researchers in this area. This greatly harms science, a posture like this is not acceptable, further in times as difficult as that of the pandemic and the current Brazilian government (a fascist that has greatly harmed science in Brazil).

  • Report, report, report, dont be silent
    – looktook
    Oct 14, 2021 at 5:07

2 Answers 2


Contact the journals the papers were published in and ask for them to be retracted.

It is standard academic ethics that papers are not to be published without the consent of all of their authors, and that everyone who has contributed to a paper is to be credited as an author; papers that fail to do so shouldn't be published.

Being unilaterally removed from authorship of a paper that is then published without your consent is grounds for retraction, as is modifying your thesis into a paper that is published without your authorship and consent.

I would not bother with any legal process; I would simply contact the journals where the articles were published, inforn them of the unethical behaviour of your former advisor, then request that the paper be retracted.

  • Thanks for the feedback. When looking for the editor-in-chief should I explain concisely, or just introduce the subject? I'm afraid the editor will be his friend as it's a very specific area of research and he's very influential and "well" connected. After I report it, would it be ethical (or legal) to show his emails threatening me to the editor-in-chief?
    – Student
    Oct 14, 2021 at 3:28
  • @user78008 If the emails are relevant to showing that he plagiarised your research, maybe. If they're just showing him behaving poorly, probably not. It's not the editor's job to discipline your former advisor; it's just to ensure that the journal is being rub ethically.
    – nick012000
    Oct 14, 2021 at 3:35
  • If the editor-in-chief does not consider plagiarism, is there any possibility of resorting to a new assessment in the scientific community?
    – Student
    Oct 14, 2021 at 3:43

Nothing is going to happen if you don't report the behavior. The two obvious places where you can report things are:

  • Your former institution: Your previous adviser's department head, dean, or if there is one the university's ethics office (in the US typically located in the office of the Vice President of Research or similar).
  • The journals in which the papers in question have appeared: Typically with the editor-in-chief or the publishing board of the organization that publishes the journal.

From your description, publishing papers without your name sounds like a pretty obvious breach of professional ethics. Assuming that you still have emails and/or early drafts of these papers, it should also be quite clear to prove what happened.

Whether reporting these issues is actually going to lead to action is a different matter. Cynics may attribute this to those in power protecting each other. Realists might say that it is just such an unpleasant thing to deal with: It's going to take a long time to read through all of the evidence, and the outcome is going to one where nobody ever looks good, including the people who did the investigation; as a consequence, nobody is excited to take on this kind of job. But, if you don't try, nothing is going to change.

  • By the department and university it would be very difficult to have a retraction, as he is a "sheriff" around here, with relationships even in the country's politics. I intend to try retraction, regardless of the path. It's absurd what this gangster is doing.
    – Student
    Oct 14, 2021 at 3:30
  • @user78008 If he's a Bolsonoro supporter, I expect that those political connections might mean less in academic circles than you think they do, given some of Bolsonoro's political stances.
    – nick012000
    Oct 14, 2021 at 6:03
  • nick012000, I didn't say he supports the Bolsonaro predisent. He doesn't, even most academics don't. I mentioned the fact that the president is harming science he in Brazil. The teacher has political influence with local government. In a country where corruption is high, if a student is too quick to demand a retraction, he can do a lot of harm. Acting within the possibilities is reasonable, but not harming yourself is necessary to have experience. That's the point. Does anyone know what to do if an editor-in-chief is against it? Are there other scientific instances to look for?
    – Student
    Oct 14, 2021 at 15:37

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