I want to publish & my supervisor is stopping me



I really need help. I just finished my thesis work and now I'm trying to publish my work as joint work with my supervisors.
Regarding my thesis work its innovative and I can easily say my supervisors involvement was minimum. they rarely discussed my work with me and even after completing my defence and getting my certificate I can say they don't know 50% of my topic.

however one of my supervisors is impossible to deal with. At some point when my work was respected by professionals he started to mistreat me.... his approach was unprofessional and insulting.
I have worked on 2 journal with my supervisors that we were suppose to submit in sequence. the first journal was submitted to a high impact journal and we got positive feedback but with few comments that can be fixed.

however, the communication with one of my supervisors even through emails is insulting. I really don't want to continue any work with him. but my innovative work is stopped from publishing. I can't discuss comments without being insulted from him ... which makes me hate to continue my work.
He is killing my research interest as long as its involved with him !!

frankly i wanted to submit the first journal that is based on my thesis with my supervisors as co-authors and after that I continue my work alone without at least the supervisor i' m having trouble with.

now i don't know what to do. I'm the main author and without snobbing I did at least 90% of the work. their involvement was cosmetic changes and few opinions on the journal i wrote.
how can I professionally deal with my supervisor but keep my research interest intact?
He cares for publications a lot but he is unprofessional with his student that is the main author!!
what are my rights as the main author?
what can I do? I don't want to insult myself and work with him anymore
I suggested to submit to a medium level journal to end problem (end contact with him)
a medium level journal won't request any further work and as a result I wont need to deal with my supervisor
please tell me what to do?
i must have rights that should protect me from his improper behavior

thanks for your time :)


hay I just want to add that this isn't my first publication...
actually I have 4 other publications and I know the value of this publication I have now.
its really good work and worth publishing.

I don't want to waste my work because of my bad luck with my supervisor

I'm a hard working researcher that loves this work but I don't accept to take insults from anyone
I have no problem to let others share the credit of my work even if they didn't do anything but respect is the least I want.

I need to know my rights and how to deal with this problem


I suppose you could learn diplomacy and politic.

Or you could be more aggressive and strip the offending person from your work. When challenged, stick to your guns and say they had no reason to be included - citing the evidence, and the insulting emails.

Personally I'd go for the latter, academia is certainly one place you can get away with it if you're good enough.


I can do this? Is it ethical?
he really believes he has the rights to be in because he is the supervisor...
no matter what his contribution was

Is there an easy way that I wont need to use guns?
do you think its possible to reason with him in some logical way to convince him this is my right?

thanks for the idea:-)


Is it ethical to challenge those who wrongly claim ownership of your work? Yes.

Is it going to work? Or, will the end result be in your favour? Hmmm... can't answer that.

Good luck! You should probably try the diplomacy first.


This sounds like a similar case I've heard before where the supervisor claims rights to your work just because on paper he is your supervisor but hasn't actually done much if anything to deserve getting on the paper! It's a bit of a mine field as there are no set rules on it. It is certainly possible to exclude him but then that depends on the dynamics of your relationship - is he likely to be useful at some later stage of your career incase he holds a grudge? Basically is he going to be a useful contact in the future as you know how small academia is as everyone knows each other. Is he going to bad mouth you? How much influence does he have in the field? Is he just insecure as he feels his ego has been bruised as you are good? He sounds like a certain proportion of academics who have no social skills and can't along with anyone especially people that challenge his views - maybe he feels his reputation is on the line?

As to your supervisor's improper behaviour there is not much you can do about unless you want to make a formal complaint. They get away with anything as departments just sweep it under the carpet and put up with it as long as the academic is publishing papers. It's all about the research which is why you hold the bargaining chip with your research. I would suggest diplomacy first just to keep the peace and see how that goes especially as he cares for publications. If he doesn't do anything - you can gently suggest that if your supervisor is not happy with the work he can withdraw from the co-authorship! I'd agree just put him on this paper and then exclude him from others if he's not going to help. As for his insulting comments - is he the sort of person that says things before he thinks and is very brash about it! If so and he has a certain reputation for saying inappropriate things take it with a pinch of salt and ignore what he says as he just doesn't have any social skills so don't take him seriously!

Good luck (up)


You have no way of knowing the motivations. Some I have encountered:

- Your theory clashes with a pet theory proposed or pushed by your supervisor.
- They see your tone as different to theirs, and feel that it may affect their position or relationships in academia.
- They don't believe in getting published with 'lessor' authors.
- They feel that the journal is unsuited to their career or image.
- They feel it is their 'right' to own your work and credit for it.
- They don't like you and/or want to be associated with you.
- They believe your work won't stand scrutiny or is not rigorous enough.
- They feel you are making over-reaching claims.
- You are being too tentative, or not tentative enough.

It appears you do not have this person on your side, so what are the implications for your future if you just go ahead and submit without them? If you are feeling generous you could add an acknowledgement at the end and mention their names. It has been my experience that many academics are too insecure in themselves and their work to be broad minded or generous. Their 'power' over PhD students is usually administrative and vindictive, rather than being through expertise and relationship.


Have there been any developments in the past 2 weeks.

I want to echo Patricks sentiments. His list of motivations is fairly comprehensive. However, I would try to warn you off just publishing without them anyway unless you are certain that they don't have a network that can impact on you later on. The importance of network when it comes to career cannot be overstated, especially within academia.

I would recommend the diplomatic approach first.