I have been working as a research assistant at one of the U.S universities for 4 year. Generally, I was not in a good relationship with my PhD supervisor. After the graduation, I found that my PhD supervisor published a peer-review paper that addresses a research work that I did in his lab without putting my name as a co-author. I have worked with him for almost 5 months in this topic. I used an advanced simulation tool to investigate a specific approach for monitoring CO2 migration in subsurface. During this time, I sent him many research update which include simulation results, slides, simulation input files, etc. showing the validity of this approach. His published paper uses exactly the same approach, but he used a different (simple) simulation tool to validate the feasibility of that approach. He also added some work that involves a validation of the simulation results with a published analytical solution. Generally, his published paper has the same methodology, same applications, and same conclusions as the research work that I did in his lab. Additionally, part of this work was addressed in my published dissertation, but he didn't cite the dissertation in his paper. Can I send a complaint to the Journal against his misconduct? Can the journal withdraw the paper? I have all the emails that show my research work with him.


3 Answers 3


So he wrote a paper on topic which is active in his group, that is notably different but related to yours. Unless you handed him a manuscript and he took your name off and submitted as his own, or actually took all your data and published without your permission, I am afraid I don't see a solid claim of this being solely "your research work". It sounds more like it's an adjacent or derivatized (at best) version of ongoing work from his research group, from which you are a graduate.

If this is a research area your former advisor is interested in he has no obligation to include you ad nauseum on every related work coming from his group going forward.

Now, I think this is a terrible way to run a research group. I strive to have a good relationship with all my students and we work together to disseminate the work. It sounds like there should have been communication and a plan on what to do with your work before you left.


It does not sound like the PI did anything explicitly wrong. You were working on a project that produced data but not a manuscript, not even a draft. After you finished the program your PI published a paper using some data you generated plus other analyses. That is not abnormal. My best advice would be to let it go and move on. You didn't have a good relationship with your PI but that happens. Next time if you care that much about a project, invest a considerable amount of work and produce data make it your business to put it into a manuscript and try to publish.


No they cannot. Yes, you can contact the journal with proof of what you're saying. Regardless of your relationship status, they can't simply publish work that you helped with/did without your name on the paper too.

  • 11
    Ok, let's roll play. Let's say I am the advisor, the editor emails me. My response is: "I guided the student to do this work, the entire concept and intellectual component of this work was my own. The student provided some data analysis, however none of it was publishable in it's state. On top of that, student left without providing me a manuscript. I then went back and redid a majority of the work which I directed, provided analysis and submitted this manuscript".
    – R1NaNo
    Commented Apr 12 at 19:40
  • @R1NaNo Please note that I was assigned that reserach work (related to this topic) and I did it. After that I have been working on other topics with himand I published many papers (3 peer-review and 2 conference) after I finished the above work. He can't calim that I didn't finish this work and then left the university becuase he didn't send emails asking for additional work related to this topic.
    – Engineer
    Commented Apr 12 at 20:21
  • 2
    @Engineer Generally, the default when any complaint is received is "do nothing". So, you need overwhelming evidence on your side to prevail, enough that the journal would be embarrassed to come to any other conclusion. All the other work that you've published with this professor might even hurt your case more than it helps because it shows your advisor doesn't have a general pattern of failing to credit you. If the professor has redone all the work without directly using yours, it will be difficult to provide the convincing "smoking gun". If your word against theirs, they'll pick "no action".
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 12 at 21:58
  • 3
    Consider also that this is a serious accusation and will likely permanently degrade your relationship with this person. Are you sufficiently secure in your next career steps that you do not require their recommendation for any positions?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 12 at 22:01

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