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»A professor from my department is known for re-writing master’s theses without crediting the students«

#PleaseDontStealMyWork — In just a few days, the #PleaseDontStealMyWork campaign has received more than 50 anonymous stories about research theft. With the permission of the organisers, the University Post offers a few examples.

Co-author had not read the article

»My biggest mistake was that as a first-year PhD student, I wrote co-authors at the top of the article every time I started writing a new article. In this way, my supervisors were always a part of it. This was a mistake that came about from something my principal supervisor said on the first days of my employment, namely that ‘we always write together’. I had mistakenly perceived this as a promise to contribute and to teach me how to write. […] When my first draft was finished, I sent it around to my supervisors. […] One of them corrected a few spelling mistakes. The other one wrote ‘Thanks!’ During the conference, I received an award for this article. But that’s not the end of the story. Six months later, my principal supervisor came to me and congratulated me for writing such a good article. He had just read it and had to tell me that I had done a good job. To this day, my first article is the most cited article by my supervisors (who, respectively, corrected a few spelling mistakes, and who was cordial enough to express gratitude for my hard work).«

Professor known for re-writing theses

»There is a professor at my department who is known for taking master’s theses and transcribing them into articles without crediting the students. No one says anything, as the professor is held in high esteem by his audience.«


Inspired by the #MeToo campaign, the hashtag #pleasedontstealmywork hopes to bring forth anonymous testimonies from young researchers who have themselves experienced, or seen others, having their research results, ideas or data stolen.

You can read more about the campaign here.


Co-authors did not contribute

»[…] It wasn’t something that just happened to me. It was really ‘the way things are done’ and it is unfortunately still like that. This happens all the time – everywhere. I still have to include the same co-author in all my work as long as I am a PhD student, because they supposedly ‘contributed to me getting a PhD in the first place’. But they didn’t contribute anything. They didn’t help me. Didn’t supervise me. Answered no questions. Nothing. They are truly just names on a piece of paper. I have criticised this practice from the beginning, but I was made to feel strongly that I should just toe the line. As a PhD student I am at the bottom of the food chain and the smartest thing I can do is to make the senior researchers happy and finish my work. After I complete my PhD I can choose not to continue this practice.«

Identical research design

»I sent my grant application to someone I wanted to have on my panel of experts, and hoped for a positive response so that the application would be stronger. I didn’t get the funding, unfortunately. But a few months later I saw that a colleague from another research institution received funding for a project with an identical idea, identical problem formulation, methodology, etc. That colleague was really good friends with the person from the expert panel that I sent the application to.«