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If a ex-PhD student publishes a paper from his thesis without his ex-supervisor's consent, the paper gets retracted upon his ex-adviser's request to the editor.

My question is: Could there be any exceptions from this rule?

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    I don't think that's a general rule. – user102 Jun 5 '14 at 16:09
  • Perhaps you could reformulate your question to detail the particular situation you are referring to? – user102 Jun 5 '14 at 16:21
  • Do you want to ask whether the advisor in that situation has the right to ask the retraction of the paper? Or to ask what to do if the paper has effectively been retracted? – user102 Jun 5 '14 at 16:24
  • When a supervisor formally withdraw the supervision, does he looses the so called "his data rights"? – user16117 Jun 5 '14 at 16:25
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    Please elaborate further: What is the intellectual contribution of the supervisor to the paper? In what temporal order did the writing of the paper, the withdrawal from supervision, the paper submission(s) and the paper retraction request happen? Did the supervisor ever agree to publishing the paper? What are you referring to by “data rights”? Why did the supervisor withdraw from supervision? (There are far more details which could help to evaluate the situation, but this should give you an idea about what information is missing.) – Wrzlprmft Jun 5 '14 at 16:44
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I can see three main reasons why a PhD student would require permission from the supervisor to publish a paper:

  1. Because the supervisor contributed to the paper enough to deserve authorship.

  2. Because the supervisor is listed as a co-author.

  3. Because university regulation stipulate that students require permission before publishing.

  4. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that external obligations are met (e.g. ethical handling of medical data; confidentiality agreements with third parties; etc etc.)

Now the third reason does not really affect the journal, but only the internal relationship between student and university. If the student lists the university as affiliation, they may demand to change this, but would not really be in a position to demand a retraction.

If the second case applies but not the first, again a correction of the misleading metainformation needs to be done, but this would probably not be grounds for a retraction.

The first case does merit demanding a retraction, but for this it is irrelevant that the objecting co-author is the former PhD supervisor of the publishing co-author. In particular, it would not really matter how exactly the collaboration of the two broke down.

In the fourth case, the missing permission by the supervisor itself would again be irrelevant for the journal. If the objection however is due to say lacking ethics approval for experiments required those, then the latter circumstance would be cause for retraction. Here, too, the details of the relationship between advisee and advisor are irrelevant, only the potential ethics infractions should impact the journal's decision.

  • There's also: 4. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that external obligations are met (e.g. ethical handling of medical data; confidentiality agreements with third parties; etc etc.) Depending on circumstances, this might not necessarily fall under (1). – avid Jun 5 '14 at 17:47
  • @avid Thanks, this is a good point. I've added it. – Arno Jun 5 '14 at 18:49
  • "1. Because the supervisor contributed to the paper enough to deserve authorship." Just curious, could one imagine any situation in which a student can disprove a claim like 1. above? – user16117 Jun 5 '14 at 19:21
  • @user16117 An obvious example would be the student publishing work wholly unconnected to their supervisor (perhaps something from their masters research at another university, or in an entirely different field that they happen to have knowledge of). – avid Jun 5 '14 at 19:37
  • The same apply to conferences? For an ex-student to go to a conference presenting from his thesis, must ask the ex-advisor for permission? – user16117 Jun 10 '14 at 2:33

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