I'm currently at breaking point and would greatly appreciate any advice you could offer. I'm a Research Assistant for a 3 year project and my PhD is funded by said project. My research is very much about the same issue as the project I'm involved in. My ideas are routinely stolen for the project, thereby undermining my own research. My original Main Supervisor is on long-term sick and my second supervisor is unqualified to do her job properly.
Not only is she unqualified, she lies, she's the one who steals my work and has just plagiarised work from my Form 6 and published it (almost word-for-word, with a few words omitted) - even though I was involved extensively in the article and was under the impression that the article was 'ours'...we worked with another PhD student on this article, he was named as an author, I got a footnote mention!!!!
I've spoken to my Pastoral Support who suggested speaking to the 2nd supervisor and highlight my concerns. I am doing this today, but I have lost all confidence, trust and respect for this person and do not want them anywhere near me or my work. They also work on the project that is funding my PhD, so I can't get away from them easily. They are also attempting to isolate me from the rest of the research team.
I am actually crying whilst writing this (not looking for sympathy, just realising how much this has started to affect me)...I simply don't know what to do...I can't take on people where there's such a power differential. Any suggestions and/or advice?
I'm so sorry you're having such a rough time. I think it's awful that you're being treated like that, and you have every right to feel so upset.
Is there someone at the university you can speak to who is perhaps higher up and less connected to the project / your second supervisor? It seems to me like you need to make the behaviour of this person known... they are meant to be supporting your research and plaigarism is very serious! What year are you in? And which country are you studying in? I ask because I have friends in Italy and the USA who regularly report behaviour like this, but in the UK, where I'm studying, it really should not be going on, and there should be a network of support for you at the university. I think you really need to speak to someone outside the project who can be more impartial, and once you have some outside support, you can put your foot down about the boundary between your PhD and the project. I think it's all too easy for a supervisor to take advantage of a PhD student in this way (and I've seen it happen). Please try not to get too down about this, just try to get this help and be strong in dealing with your supervisor. You may also want to think about getting a new supervisor if this doesn't help- I know people you have and they are much happier.
Good luck and best wishes,
Thanks for your quick reply. I'm doing my PhD in the UK and in my second year (of a three year program). I've spoken to someone outside the project who advised me that I should talk to the 2nd supervisor, which I'm doing today. The person I spoke to couldn't believe that the 2nd supervisor would be acting maliciously...maybe because what the supervisor is doing is so underhand. If I don't have any success after today's meeting, I'm going to speak to them again.
My biggest gripe is the plagiarism...surely there should be some mechanism to confront this? I was under the impression that it would be classed as gross misconduct as the 2nd supervisor is also a lecturer?
Wow...had the meeting...what on earth?? I suppose if you bring market conditions into academia, you bring along with it the same competitiveness, rather than cooperation you'd expect from 'learned' individuals.
I mentioned plagiarism to the 2nd supervisor, their response? "Yes Mud, I wouldn't want you to get into trouble when submitting your article/thesis due to the article." Am I dreaming? The don't want my article/thesis being accused of plagiarism as the words they used in their article were mine? So, in effect, I'd be penalised for using 'my' words in 'my' article/thesis because they'd originally plagiarised my Form 6/literature review...I didn't realise, naively, that academia was so very corrupt.
======= Date Modified 05 Mar 2011 07:41:31 =======
Well its not plagiarism if you can prove you wrote the material first...just bare in mind that in doing this you may have a fair bit of pain to experience in dealing with it, and it will effectively destroy this dirtbag of a second supervisors career and reputation, and may have a bearing on your reputation in the field (if this person has friends who support unconditionally). In saying that I wouldn't be letting stuff like this wash. People in academia are not all like this, and im sorry that you have had to experience that side of it. If printed copies with dates exist, viewed by other people (print all your emails of correspondence over this material, especially good with attached drafts as it provides reference dates), and evidence of drafts of your work creation dates would be very important. Additionally people you talked to about with this material prior to the publishing of the article. Provided you can bring to bear this proof, I would be seeking to lodge a formal academic complaint against this individual, and provided you have the evidence sufficient to prove your case then lodge a formal request for retraction to the journal citing the plagirism issue.
The big question here, was this material formally submitted to the university in your form 6/literature? If so you are going to have powerful mechanisms for recourse.
It alls come down to as much evidence you can get together. I would first speak to the Dean of your department of Faculty. If they are unwilling to act then go to the vice-chancellor research level. If necessary the university may choose to provide legal representation against the individual, but I would suggest getting legal advice from a patent attorney/university legal aid if you aren't sure what is required during the burden of proof of intellectual property (what this boils down to). If you can prove academic misconduct this person will be lucky to escape with their job.
Don't give up, don't get disheartened because of this slimeball individual. The reaction of the other person should give you a clue as to how this sort of thing is treated in academia. Keep us updated and don't be nervous about asking for help, people here have been in similar situations and can offer great advice and just someone to vent or talk to. :-)
======= Date Modified 05 Mar 2011 14:47:05 =======
======= Date Modified 05 Mar 2011 14:32:12 =======
Thank you for your response, comments and suggestions. The 2nd supervisor has indeed taken the words from my Form 6 Literature Review, which was submitted to her in October 2010 (draft versions were sent throughout 2010). She submitted the journal article just before Xmas 2010. Not only this, but some of the phrases/sentences she has used were adapted from my undergraduate dissertation, submitted to the university in 2009. I have retained copies of emails from her that stated this journal article was 'ours', the conference presentation we did, etc.,...I also have the initial email asking me to take part in the research.
One thing that's bothering me is that she has mentioned me in the first page 'footnote', that I had supplied part of the literature review. However, where she has cut and paste my words verbatim, she hasn't put them in speech marks and I haven't been cited as authoring those words...whichever way I look at it, it looks like plagiarism to me.
I'm not sure who would show allegiance to the 2nd supervisor...she only has a Masters (all due respect to anybody with a Masters) and seems to be a "Jack of all trades, master of none", flitting from one discipline to another.
Sounds like you have got everything you need to take action, especially if there is material which has been submitted formally to the uni, and if she has copy and paste (and make sure this is word for word...if its 75% like this she is stuffed). Thats plenty enough for plagirism, even given she has mentioned you as an acknowledgement....thats not right or honest behaviour. As a person with a masters I am suprised she is allowed to act as a supervisor for you at all....normally the PhD process relies on a Prof or Dr supervising...as you are being considered for admission to the position of Dr of Philosphy...you probably need to see your dean to get a temporary supervisor who is appropriately trained for such a position. I would make sure you have printed copies of absolutely everything. Make a list of your concerns and gather your information and go to the dean, or take it and speak to the outside person you spoke to before (telling him the reaction of the 2nd supervisor), and get advice from there of the best person to next go to. I hope it all goes well.
======= Date Modified 05 Mar 2011 19:44:53 =======
I mentioned the whole story in my first post, and don't believe I have suggested anything other than the facts as they are. She has quoted from my Form 6/Literature review/Dissertation verbatim...surely this is plagiarism? She used my words, but she will be seen as the author. Were I to submit a journal article/thesis using 'my own' words, I would be accused of plagiarism as TURNITIN would pick out her article.
I didn't just do the literature review. I was involved with the planning, the evaluation of the research and gave advice throughout. We then (2nd supervisor, another PhD student and I) presented a paper at a conference, which we had all contributed to. A representative from the journal approached the 2nd supervisor due to this paper we presented.
I am meeting with a respected academic on Monday to clarify.
======= Date Modified 06 Mar 2011 02:37:20 =======
Hi and thanks for your reply,
This project isn't the one I'm employed as a research assistant on, it's a separate one altogether. I was told from the outset that this was 'our' publication. My work is Sociologically based. The 2nd supervisor and the other PhD student started the research together, then brought me in at a later date. Part way through my involvement with the project I did mention that they had done a lot of the groundwork and that if they wanted to go ahead with the analysis on their own, to do so. The 2nd supervisor said that she was happy with my continued involvement and wanted me to stay on and evaluate and present on the findings.
It is absolutely not my intention to "try to cause significant damage to someone else's career". If the university believe this to be plagiarism, then she damaged her own career and should take responsibility for her own actions. I am only protecting myself and ensuring that I cannot be punished/penalised for someone else's potential plagiarism of my work.
======= Date Modified 09 Mar 2011 21:02:20 =======
Guess what's going to happen to her? Yep, you guessed it, absolutely nothing! The 'respected academic' I went to see, in my opinion, is respected no more...expressed appalling, bullying behaviour...head down, ears open, eyes wide open and mouth shut from now on...that's the price you pay for telling the truth in academia.
Sorry to hear about such an awful situation. Have you considered going to the journal with your evidence and asking for a retraction on the grounds of plagiarism? I know it's not a great thing to do, but it does protect you from accusations of plagiarising your second supervisor when you go to hand in your thesis, as presumably your lit review will be in there, especially if it is basically publication quality.
You could also consider going to the press, the universities hate this sort of thing getting out, and it looks to me like they are just trying to brush it under the carpet, I would try speaking to times higher education to begin with, not just about the plagiarism but also about the response to it. This doesn't have to stop here, and by acting now, you'll probably save future students from suffering your fate.
Don't be afraid to go higher than the senior academic you spoke to either, get in touch with a students union rep, and take it to the VC is my advice.
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