I recently completed my PhD thesis with minor corrections and I presented most of the data in international conferences (posters and talks). Now I am focused on writing up the data for publication in a journal.

For the publication, 2 of 3 supervisors want me to change the direction of the analysis from data driven to theory-driven which will take several months and still might be rejected. They say the data is publishable as it is but that they want to fit the data to a theory that they are pursuing for other research grants (i.e. independently from me), and it may (or may not) lead to a better cited paper. I want to try to publish the data as it is, because that is what is in my thesis, I have presented these results before and they fit with my career interest.

I was wondering whether it is acceptable to push for publication how I want it, i.e. if we do not agree on this, who takes the lead decision? At the moment, I am in danger of not publishing this work because we cannot agree, but I don't feel this re-analysis is to do with the quality of my thesis work, and is more of a hidden agenda. My supervisors had involvement and that is not the issue. If I were still a PhD student, a re-analysis would likely happen (out of interest) but since I am a post-doc in another research group, I'm not keen on a re-analysis for the fun of it.

  • Welcome to Academia SE. I do not think your question is answerable as it stands, as it all depends on the scientific contribution of your supervisors. Can you please edit your question to elaborate this. I also suggest that you browse the authorship tag to get an idea of what is relevant or to even find an answer to your question.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 25, 2015 at 13:03
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    So, you have completed a PhD dissertation that 2/3 members of your committee do not believe that is publishable as it is. You should probably thank your lucky stars that they signed / agreed that your work is worth a PhD, instead of arguing with them that there is nothing that needs improvement before your work gets published.
    – Alexandros
    Aug 25, 2015 at 17:58
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    @Alexandros it is a matter of opinion that they think this study could be analysed a different way, not that the study is not publishable as it is. I should also thank my lucky stars I passed independent review should I?! My question relates to how much authorship rights we have for PhD research - i.e. I would like to try to publish my data as is because it fits with my thesis/research interests. I will edit the question to elaborate my issue further.
    – Louise
    Aug 26, 2015 at 12:32
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    @Alexandros you make huge assumptions here. I have published twice from my PhD and this is only 1 paper/study. My supervisors do not actually work in the field that is my PhD topic - it was a random project that none of them had any experience in. Therefore, as it happens when you do a PhD anyway, I have become the most experienced and know the work in depth, and have become acquainted with the experts of my field (my reviewers). So as you can see, these issues are not all black and white. My paper is publishable in their opinion, but they want a publication in a theoretical journal
    – Louise
    Aug 26, 2015 at 13:04
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    I voted for re-opening. However, needed to say, the background of the question is still not 100% clear. Could you please move all the relevant information from the comments to the question text?
    – yo'
    Aug 26, 2015 at 13:25

2 Answers 2


As usual, the first piece of advice I can offer is to talk to your graduate advisor to get his take. That said, it sounds like you're getting advice which will increase your chances of getting a paper accepted from people who have experience in the field.

Your theory that they're asking you to do work related to a "hidden agenda" seems a little far-fetched... when considering the extra analysis, writing it up, and publishing, you're looking probably 18 months into the future. Your committee is well aware of this. The likelihood of all that happening in any timeframe that would be beneficial to them is pretty darn small. Even more so, they have their own students who can work on their stuff. They wouldn't hang their hat on the chances that a graduate student who has already moved on will do some research that may or may not result in a publication. Long story short, I wouldn't worry too much about ulterior motives.


As a postdoc, you are now in the driver's seat of your research career.

"I am in danger of not publishing this work because we cannot agree" -- can you explain this? Is this because they're wearing you down, or because they have the capability of stopping you, or getting back at you?

You need an ally. Look around. Good luck.

  • @Louise - Would burning your bridges with your former supervisors leave any lasting harm to your collaborative network? Sep 5, 2015 at 14:58

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