Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ethical Issues

Your postdoc advisor informs you that all three completely new projects that you came up with, developed, and started publishing in said advisor's lab are off-limits to take with you.  Even though the advisor knows nothing (no, really) about two of the three.  Do you:

A) Decide that your advisor is having a psychotic break and have him/her forcibly committed?
B) Take this as further evidence that your advisor is a passive-aggressive jerk?
C) Lie down, roll over, and accept being completely screwed?
D) Start working on a fourth project, and don't tell your advisor?  Or, as a friend of mine put it, "Listen up, kids... two wrongs do make a right!"

 -More later.

14 comments:

  1. E) provide as much detail as possible to the university ombudsman or ethicist. It might not give a direct benefit, but early paper trails for this type of thing might be beneficial in the long run

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    1. Ha! After (F) you leave the state, doubtless. As at most R1s, nobody gives a fuck about people with independent funding. Besides, Advisor has an excuse! ("I'll do it better than you.")

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    1. Sorry, Nicole; I know I'm not anonymous but I don't want to be searchable. :)
      Here it is, de-named:

      Go to the current head of the department and explain the situation, and see if a sympathetic someone can help plead his case? Hmm, I'm not sure about how sympathetic [B] would be. I've always found [D] and [A] to be very nice people, who are not too busy to listen to students. I don't know if Dr. S. has any relationship with any other profs, though. Definitely not cool behavior on the part of the "advisor".

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    2. Totally understandable, I only thought about pseudonyms after pressing post. Sorry!

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  3. Ouch. That sucks. I have somewhat related experience with (B), but that doesn't really help. Surprisingly though, the character sometimes changes after one has left -- but that obviously cannot be relied on.

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    1. Quite to the contrary, there seems to be a history of this, which, though he asked, nobody TOLD him.

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    2. That's also quite common, unfortunately. Although, if he ASKED and they still didn't at least let it show through between the lines, that's not exactly great on part of the colleagues either...

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  4. Yikes. Is there room for negotiation? Wouldn't it behoove your advisor to be co-author with you on the forthcoming publications?

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    1. You would think his advisor would be more into collaboration, but apparently the advisor would rather go with vindictive shooting self in foot. !!!

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    2. When I asked one PI about taking stuff to an independent position, ze said that "I would prefer my former postdoc publishing it than a competitor--like that everyone benefits" (implication that successful lab alumni look good for everyone). Besides, once something is published you do have to make it available to the general research community.

      Not that everyone is so good about this...

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  5. Yiiiikes. I can see wanting to retain some ownership of work done in your lab (with your funding?) even if you weren't hugely involved, but seems like joint authorship is the appropriate way of retaining that ownership, not being insane. Boy, I hope Dr S escapes from this lab in the next cycle.

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    1. Yes, exactly. Joint authorship for anything with publishable data generated in one's own lab (with his own independent funding), or, if one has not burned all the bridges, anything with even preliminary data. Then let it GO.

      The plan is to depart next summer, with or without an academic job. Because industry is fiiiine, too.

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    2. Please feel free to depart in our general direction! We would reallllly like that! :)

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