Professional ethics: Publishing a student's project

Samuel M. Scheiner sam.scheiner at
Thu Jun 22 09:20:21 EST 1995

Here is a question on the ethical treatment of a student. I have a MS student 
who completed a research project almost a year ago. In the last nine months he 
has done almost nothing to complete analysis of the data or write up the 
results for his thesis despite repeated discussions with me and his committee. 
At this point I have serious doubts whether he will ever finish.

Ethical decisions:

1. How long should I wait before I simply take the data and publish it myself, 
with him as co-author of course? What sorts of ultimatums are reasonable?

2. [Just to broaden the discussion] Does the extent of my imput matter? In 
this case I provided the initial idea, much of the detail on experimental 
design, and a fair amount of labor both directly and indirectly by hiring 
extra help. [And you ask, how much work did this guy actually do?] But, can 
we come up with general principles?

* Samuel M. Scheiner            *                          *                    
* Dept. of Life Sciences (2352) *  In a democracy,         *                    
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