I was working on a problem in the field engineering. I have used one approach and it turned out that it does not work well. After that I got into conflict with my supervisor, and realized that it will be hard to publish the original paper with him. So, I have redone everything with another approach, wrote a paper, submitted it and at as soon as my paper have been almost accepted, my supervisor wrote to the editor claiming that he also should be an author of the paper. He haven't even seen the new paper nor haven't analysed or interpreted the new results.

Now my supervisor has started a university investigation against me, with following allegation:

"Dr.X submitted a manuscript on [some topic] to the journal Y. Theory and simulations of [some topic] are part of his responsibilities in [grant] for which Prof. #1 and Prof. #2 are co-PIs. The manuscript was submitted as a sole author without the prior knowledge of either coPI. Dr. X refused to provide a copy of the manuscript. The work described in the manuscript is unlikely to be Dr. X's independent work given his background prior to joining the university and given his current work under [grant]."

How should I respond to the allegations of Prof. #1?

  • 2
    Presumably this is related to your previous question. How is this question different from the previous one?
    – ff524
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 15:54
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    It's different now because his supervisor has started investigatory proceedings against him, at the very least.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 15:59
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    @CharlesMorisset, now that we know that this is a university proceeding of some sort, I think the answers are going to be very different. No longer is the answer "Run, don't walk, away," but rather "get professional help, ASAP."
    – Bill Barth
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 16:06
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    I find it remarkable how your supervisor makes strong claims about the contents of a manuscript of which he claims to have no copy.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 10:12
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    @Wrzlprmft: I agree; that is striking. On the other hand, the OP also claims that the supervisor has no copy of a paper on the topic of a grant in which he is a co-PI and which is funding the OP. There is a certain symmetry here... Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 11:24

3 Answers 3


You should gather all your materials related to this project into one place (emails, codes, lab notebooks, etc) and talk to an attorney immediately. Presumably you can be dismissed from your job for research misconduct if they find against you. Only an attorney can help you navigate the related employment laws of your country, state, or region, your university's regulations and rules, and whatever granting agency's rules and regulations that you are operating under.

I would not respond until you've had an attorney competent in this area at least evaluate your case and your options.

  • I will have to write written response to the allegations. Do you think I should ignore this responsibility?
    – ntm
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 16:32
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    No, I think that you should talk to an attorney today or Monday and get help writing the response. You appear to be under threat of losing your job or having a significant blemish on your employment record. Presumably you have a few days to respond. Use them wisely.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 16:35

Unfortunately, your situation has gone from bad to pretty much impossible.

Your challenge here is that without incontrovertible proof that you've submitted the accepted manuscript to your advisor (and the co-PI), you will almost certainly lose the process that your advisor has started against you. Moreover, even if you win, it will be at best a Pyrrhic victory; all you will have managed to achieve is avoid having another black mark added to your academic record.

In addition to Bill Barth's advice above, you should also start looking for alternate employment immediately, regardless of what happens in the proceedings with the university. Start over and regroup, and learn from your experiences.

  • Well, it seems hard to know that the OP will "almost certainly lose the process": what it takes to get formally recognized for academic misconduct by one's university surely depends in a sensitive way on the written rules and unwritten culture of the university, and many of us keep in mind examples of egregious cases of academic dishonesty/misconduct -- even by faculty -- which are treated too lightly. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 18:09
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    But your observation that even if the OP wins, he still really loses is (sadly) dead-on, as is the good advice to start looking look for jobs. (+1) I'm afraid the OP is "attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis," as they say on The Big Bang Theory. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 18:11
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    It's one thing when charges of academic misconduct are filed—but an advisor filing charges against a member of his own group are so rare that I think things are very much stacked against the OP.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 18:29
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    We agree that things do not look good. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 18:30

Where did you redo the work? At his Lab? Even if it did not work with the first approach, it does not mean you ignore your supervisor and publish the paper alone. You at least knew it would not work that way so you tried another way. It seemed you had a grant at his team, which means he offered you the fund to carry out the work, is that true?I think it doesn't make you better to publish a paper alone than to publish it as a first author/ and may be as a corresponding author too and put your supervisor as a coauthor. He doesn't see the paper because you did not send it to him not because he doesn't want to, right? I am not against you, but I am telling you how the people who will get involved would see the matter. If you have a proper answer to these question, you might have right, otherwise, you should reconsider adding or supervisor instead of getting accused of plagiarism and getting your career into trouble.

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