Prior to starting my Ph.D., I initiated a project with my former boss. We both wrote proposals and secured funding from an international foundation for a two-year period. The following year, I began my Ph.D. program (continuing with the project), during which I dedicated four years to collecting data, selecting sites, managing and verifying expenses, obtaining permissions from landowners (basically all logistics), and, of course, drafting reports for donors.
We also received an additional grant from a government agency during this period. Essentially, I coordinated and executed all the fieldwork. During this time, I had the idea to gather supplementary data that could potentially be used for other publications. However, they recently published a paper utilizing this data without acknowledging my contributions and efforts.
I reached out to all the authors via email, and their response implied that I lacked interest in publishing because I still had pending papers from my dissertation (although I have already published two). It's worth noting that they submitted two papers using data derived from my project without sending me the manuscripts for review, yet I am still listed as an author.
Furthermore, one of the authors, in the current paper falsely claims to have overseen logistics and handled data collection. In reality, this individual only assisted with data collection at less than 5% of the sites and was not involved in any logistical aspects. Additionally, they omitted acknowledging funding from one of the donors in their article.
My former boss suggested that I could be included as an author in other papers as a partial resolution, but personally, I don't believe this is an ethical solution. I understand that situations like these are common in academia, and it often feels like the person with less power has more to lose (and that's me). What options do I have?
Update: They sent me an email telling me they have requested my inclusion and also the inclusion of the other funding source. However, they haven't replied to my request to send me the email that they supposedly sent to the journal. So I am kind of worried that they are trying to do the minimum possible. I was relieved for a couple of hours after their email, but then I remembered that I shouldn't be so trusting. It's only been four days since I found out and I already feel the toll on my physical and mental health
Update 2: I am now listed as an author, and I would like to express my gratitude to all of you for your insights. I also wanted to share what I have learned:
Keep evidence: Whenever you send databases or any type of information, do it via email. I searched for any evidence I had regarding my contributions and found a substantial amount, including pictures, documents, emails, and text messages. Although I did not need to use it, I knew that if I wanted to contact the journal, I had important evidence to support my case.
Journals do not typically prioritize authorship issues. However, if all authors agree to add or remove an author (including the one being added or removed), the necessary adjustments will be made. This applies even if the paper has already been published, as they can publish a note of correction. In my case, the correction was handled in a very "polite" manner.
Many journals adhere to the authorship criteria outlined by The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which consists of four criteria. In my situation, I did not meet two of these criteria. However, I discovered through other papers, such as "Authorship: Credit those who deserve it" by Ashish Kumar, that if you fulfill the first criterion: "substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work," you should have had the opportunity to meet either criterion #2 or #3. Therefore, if you find yourself in a similar situation where you are told you cannot be an author due to these criteria, remember that...