I have a number of problems with my postdoc supervisor.

  1. First of all, I do not have any funds for my research. According to local university rules, I can't submit any grant proposals myself; this is the supervisor's responsibility. When I request this, he always answers that he doesn't care and I must do research using existing resources. However, I am the first person here who started doing research in my area, and there are no facilities, equipment or even consumables available.

  2. At the same time he requires me to publish research papers, and his suggestion is just to write low-quality papers using research methods from the early sixties.

  3. When I manage to find a collaborator in another university, he replies that he is not going to work with anyone because other researchers will steal his (but actually my) results.

  4. After seven months of my study I accidentally figured out that I could request funds from one of his projects, but when I suggested to do this, he simply rejected my idea.

  5. When I ask about other possibilities to do research in this university, he replies that I must "search in Google" or "walk around and find them yourself", and he is not going to provide any information.

  6. Despite this I have managed to finish one piece of research, and he included three persons as authors whom I have never even seen and their background is not relevant at all, explaining that they are a part of his team. Additionally, it is a common thing for him to come and start explaining to me that I am not able to do anything. These are just words, and I am confident in my qualifications, but still it is annoying.

Before I started working here, I had five years of experience as a principal investigator, and I am able to do research without any supervision. However, his behavior totally blocks any possibility.

Question: Is there any legal procedure to request external check of my working conditions or his qualification as a supervisor? I will appreciate any other recommendations as well.

  • 27
    Don't walk. Run!
    – Shake Baby
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 2:34
  • 13
    Fire your postdoc supervisor. He is abusing you. He has demonstrated that he has no respect for you, either professionally or personally. He will not write you a strong recommendation letter when you go on the academic job market. Get out now. You can do far better.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 8:55
  • 5
    Why do you stay? Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 13:16
  • If you already have PI experience, you most probably already have enough experience to get some better (independent) position even if your present job has only limited success. The longer you stay here, the higher chance that you have a long, fruitless period in your CV. Leave as fast as you can.
    – Greg
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 16:11
  • We can't answer legal questions -- you'll need to talk to a lawyer if you're serious about that. Putting that aside, do you have a question? Commented May 5, 2018 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure how did you get to work with him, and if you can simply leave whenever you have a better offer. But, if you are to continue with him, he will bury your career. He wants from you to publish low quality papers, he doesn't provide you the minimal resources and cuts your ties with collaborators. Going like that, it should not surprise you that in two more years you're not employable anymore as a postdoc. So, the first advise is to run as soon as you can.

Where I live there are quite a few of this kind of "supervisors". They only need to publish a little every year to meet the requirements of the institution. They are also very good at isolating their students and postdocs from the rest of the community. That way they make sure they have enough people to supervise (needed to keep their research team leader status). People working with them slowly lose trust in their ability as scientists and cannot leave anymore to other labs. Worse even, many of these people are on temporary positions, so the supervisor uses this for their own gain.

It is unlikely that this person will change. If you cannot leave the university, it would be a good idea to try moving to a different supervisor at the same place. That will most likely make your current supervisor your enemy, but you aren't much better off with him as your friend. One of my colleagues did this because her supervisor would not assign her any work. The supervisor hates her now, but, at this moment, she's doing good research, so it seems to have been a good decision. In any case, it would be a bad idea to let your supervisor know of your intentions before having a new position.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .