Advisor borrowing an idea

Jeffrey Alan Silverman jeffs at
Wed Feb 3 09:12:59 EST 1993

I am posting this for a friend who does not have access to this forum.
I would like to solicit some opinions/advice on a sensitive subject.
In the course of applying for a faculty position, my friend had to write
a detailed reseach proposal.  She selected an area unrelated to her current
work and  not in an area her supervisor was working.  In fact in several 
 discussions with him, this supervisor indicated that he was not interested
in persuing this particular aspect of work.  So my friend developed her idea 
into a proposal , had this supervisor read/make suggestions etc and submitted
it.  Now, it turns out that this "supervisor" thought the idea was too good.  
He  has put two other postdocs on this project.... not told my friend that he
was going to start this work never mind put two other people on it!  This is
possible in this lab since the postdocs are discouraged from talking to each
other about their projects. Needless to say my friend is very upset.  Its not
that she thought she would be the only person in the world working on this 
project/idea but the fact that he lied to her about his interests, and the way
that he is underhandedly going about it.... he closes his office door (which is two feet away from my friends desk) when he wants to talk to the people
working on this project). She feels very violated. and is very angry. but
powerless.  I should add that this "advisor" is very senior and well known in
this particular field of research... I'd bet you may even have heard of him! he
is an editor of a journal and fairly powerful in our current institution. so
my friend is fairly  worried about the repercussions of confrontation.
where would it get her? who would believe her... and it is all probably impropper
and unjust but not "illegal".
I/she just wanted to see if this is common, usual and to get some opinions on
this sort of thing. any advice?
Disclaimer: If the people described here sound familiar.... its your imagination
..... if the advisor reminds you of yourself, shame on you!

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