I am currently a postdoc in the US, and will likely become a STEM tenure-track assistant professor at an R1 university.


During my postdoc, I was working on a project that was unsuccessful due to non-technical reasons (lack of funding for critical hardware, PI's unwillingness to push forward, long development time beyond my postdoc timing, etc). The project was a sub-sub-aim in a multi-year, multiple-million-dollar grant proposal. The PI stopped me from doing the project and had me focus on other priorities. No papers were published regarding this project, and the PI has no intention to continue the project after I leave.

When preparing for faculty search (applications, interviews, talks), after weeks of rumination, I have developed new technical ideas for the project, and have included those new ideas in my applications and talks. For some reason, my relationship with my PI gets worse during my faculty search process, and unlikely I can discuss those with the PI.


Once I become an independent faculty at the new R1 university:

  • Is it ethical for me to be the sole PI and write a new, small-grant proposal on the project? The scientific aim is the same, but the proposal will employ my new technical ideas for the same project, with no data being used from the previous lab.
  • If the project is published with pure efforts from my lab, do I need to include the PI from my postdoc lab in the authorship, or only acknowledge it? Or do I have to? What is the proper way of handling this situation?

1 Answer 1


Many people do this.

However, I consider those people intellectually lazy. As did my advisors when we discussed how to go independent. (feel free to downvote if this offends anyone)

It is one thing to stay within the general research area of your postdoc (better to branch out though), but it is another entirely to actually continue a project line (no matter how much you try to convince yourself that it is so very minor, and loosely related that nobody will know.... clearly YOU know, because it is bothering you enough to ask here).

Going independent is your chance to do groundbreaking research that is all your own.

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