Professional ethics: Publishing a student's project

Thomas Bjorkman Thomas_Bjorkman at
Tue Jun 27 13:40:56 EST 1995

> On Tue, 27 Jun 1995, Michael Torok wrote:
> > Samuel M. Scheiner (sam.scheiner at wrote:
> > : 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
>                              (stuff deleted)     
> > : 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 

In the American Chemincal Society's Style Guide, this is touched on.

"11. As sumbitting author, name aas coauthors of the paper all those, and
only those, who have made significant scientific contributions to the
research and who share responsibliity and accountability for it.
  d. Obtain coauthors approval of the final draft of the manuscript before
submitting the papaer for publication."

In this case, I would say that a publication with the professor and the
student listed as authors is appropriate.  If the results are important,
then failing to publish it in a timely manner is unethical.  The fact that
it has been published does little to compromise the thesis.  The thesis is
the student's responsibility, and they can deal with the thesis according
to the rules of the graduate school.  

I think in some of the earlier discussion there has been some confusion
between the thesis and the peer-reviewed journal paper.  The answer to the
questions if different for the two forms.

Thomas Bjorkman    Dept. of Horticultural Sciences   Cornell University

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