I recently published a paper that used data that was given to me (willingly) by a recently graduated M.S. student. This student already published their thesis and had decided to leave academia. I re-did the analysis, cited the thesis, and included the student in the acknowledgements. The work was done internationally, and the student obtained external funding (granted to them) to collect the data and obtained a research permit to do the work.
I have recently been made aware that the students former supervisors have requested a retraction of the paper on the grounds that the student did not own the data and was not entitled to share with me. It is my understanding that the former supervisors are requesting retraction of the paper so that they can publish on the same topic. To make things even more complicated, the student should have shared the data with their international collaborator and they did not, and this is the angle they are pushing with the journal. Although it has been made clear that nothing can be done about this, a big part of the reason the student left academia was due to bullying by one of the previous supervisors. I have a few questions that I would love input on:
Was the student entitled to share the data, considering they obtained the funding, the research permit is in their name and they already published their thesis?
Is a thesis considered a published work in the sense that we could use the data given to us and cite the thesis?
In the case our paper is retracted, will the ex-supervisors be able to publish without the consent of the student?
I am a ECR and the idea of having to retract a paper is highly troubling, especially considering there was no intentional wrong-doing on the part of myself or the student.
EDIT: I didn't want to share too many specific details, but the grant was from the Fulbright to the student.