Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Angry

I ended last week fairly angry and disappointed - disappointed in myself but mostly angry at my previous research advisor (my MS advisor).  I was randomly glancing through literature related to my MS thesis and came across a recent paper that she had co-written with a new student of hers.  What mostly caught my eye was the title of the paper - with the exception of one word change (albeit an important one) it was word for word the same title as my MS thesis.  Not that it was such a great title (I'm not that vain), but it was certainly a unique one and very much completely taken from my thesis.  Upon further inspection of the paper, I became annoyed to discover that this paper was pretty much my thesis transformed into a journal article with the only change being the samples studied.  Again, not something to really get someone angry - after all, most research people do is based on others previous work (you gotta start somewhere, right?).  The reason I'm so angry with her is the fact that she did not even cite my thesis or my previous ACS preprint publication (nor did she acknowledge me in any way).  I understand that a thesis and preprint publication don't hold as much weight as a full fledged journal article, but they are in fact published works and they deserve to be cited.  ...Especially since the entire work of this student was based on my previous work - all of the small details, procedures, obscure references, and even the particular labeling of the figures(!) included within the paper are verbatim (literally) from my thesis - again, they are using different data but it's obvious that the ideas for the figures and the procedures are from my thesis (and NOT the paper she cites in the journal article).  Perhaps, I'm overreacting to the situation - I am fairly sensitive about certain situations that others would just shrug off - but I'm still feeling angry toward her so I'm rolling with that and hoping writing about it will help me not be so angry.

As I listen to my "angry playlist" (songs compiled for the occasions when I'd like to kick the wall and/or shout obscenities while shaking my fist at some unknown being in the sky), I'm feeling bitter and starting to feel some sarcasm creeping up within me.  I did email her about the situation, but I did not disclose my anger yet.  I will tell her what she did was wrong, even if it was just a small instance of wrongness, for I know if the situation was reversed she would react much stronger and much harsher - and she wouldn't think twice about it.  I'm disappointed that I never published a legitimate journal article for my MS thesis, so I'll have to sit with that, but I'm most disappointed that she's getting ahead based on my work and I'm not getting the credit.

I'm still not sure where I'll end up after I graduate - whether I do a postdoc or go into industry, eventually I would like to teach at a college and be someone's research advisor.  With that, I guarantee that I will not abandon my students nor will I copy their work without acknowledging or citing them.  When you're depending on students or employees (somewhat) to get the work done to advance your career, you can't ignore the students/employees that helped you get there.  I'm not saying my MS work was award winning, but it was special and unique to me (and only me).  I based my MS work on various literature sources that I compiled and digested, which helped me (without much help from said research advisor) design a plan and procedure for my MS thesis.  Of course, I dropped the ball on getting a journal article published and that's no one's fault but my own.  However, I designed the experiments featured in this journal article, and neither she or her student deserves the credit of their name and school on that publication.


  1. Don't fret, love...I would feel the exact same way! Don't be hard on yourself because you didn't publish a journal article based on your MS work - your work is still yours no matter how you look at it and you definitely deserve the credit! We must talk about this more off-line...I'm quite curious!

  2. I agree with Brandie - what happened was wrong and your feelings are totally justified. As long as the situation is handled in a mature and professional way, you have the right to address it. I'm so sorry this happened and I hope you find a way to feel okay about it soon!

  3. thanks, ladies! you're the best :) I did hear from her, and we are going to work it out! I have a feeling I'll have to be very persistent, but I'm good at that :)