I'm all for publishing my own work of course. Since I have coursework and new projects during the semester I have temporarily put aside my manuscript and I have communicated with the former (Master's) supervisor about this. But now she kept contacting my current PhD supervisor and he in turn has written to me a few times regarding this matter.

I feel my former supervisor's behaviour is quite innappropriate and this is the third time she does this. There have been two very similar instances previously--her asking my PhD supervisor whether I could depart later than my planned date to start my PhD program; then about two weeks before the final thesis submission, she contacted my PhD supervisor while I hesitated to let her use my thesis for grant application--both times behind my back with me only learning what she did from my PhD supervisor. I called her the second time she did this asking her very politely not to do such a thing again and hoping to remain on good terms. She agreed. But now this happens again........

What can I do to stop her from doing this? While not having my relationship with the current supervisor damaged but also I guess not having to be coerced into doing what she wants?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!

  • Related, but not a duplicate academia.stackexchange.com/questions/29032/…
    – user21984
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 0:00
  • 1
    Why not just take some time off and finish it?
    – Bitwise
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 1:08
  • 5
    Just to be clear: You have a complete thesis that earned you a degree, but this is somehow not published in any form, and it will be too much effort to publish during the academic year? I feel like I'm missing something. Also, was publication of your thesis not a (possibly deferred) requirement for your master's?
    – user4512
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 2:36
  • @ChrisWhite Hi this is a Masters thesis and publication is not a requirement. Some of the students do manage to publish after receiving the degree--usually within a year or two.
    – chipi3
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 5:07
  • 2
    while the attention may be bothersome, i would also feel flattered. your work may matter! Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


One thing you should understand is that in this crazy world, she may benefit from having your thesis published more than you, especially if she is currently under considerations for reappointment or promotion, so don't be too hard on her: rather blame the entire screwed up evaluation system in academia that has made much stronger people panic and do ridiculous things.

With all that said, the usual advice applies: be firm but polite and show some good will. Think of when you can realistically finish the job (it is in your own best interests to finish it eventually regardless of anything), and tell the plan to your current adviser. That should settle your scores with him and, most likely, he'll no longer bother you with that anymore. If you want, you can tell the target date to your former adviser as well.

Don't forget to give yourself some leeway, so that you can keep your word no matter what. Remember that promising less than one expects from you won't hurt your reputation, but failing to keep your promise will.

  • 1
    Being under pressure from "the system" is not an excuse to pass the pressure on to people lower in the food chain. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 11:21

First of all, good on you for taking a calm approach, particularly when you asked her stop directly. However, her persistent actions, especially after you have asked her politely and directly to stop is bordering on harassment. Not only that, she is undermining you with your present supervisor.

A good course of action I can suggest is to firstly speak with your current supervisor about the situation, your concerns and especially the recent event. Depending on what your current supervisor and you come up with, you could consider a discrete message to your former supervisor's Dean, asking for their assistance in this matter - particularly with her going behind your back.

However, in saying this, negotiate and stick to a timetable to have the manuscript completed - ensuring that your time constraints are also considered. It may be a good idea to have your current supervisor help with this, as it coincides with your current research.

  • Three requests is not harassment. Inappropriate but not harassment which has much stronger connotations.
    – nickalh
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 11:59
  • That is why I said "bordering on harassment"
    – user21984
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:47

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