In 1994 I graduated from a Spanish university and joined a Chemistry PhD program in the USA.
In February of 1997 all I was “missing” to finish the PhD was:
- a second published article (already had one in JACS)
- to prepare and defend a research project
- to mesh all my writing into a thesis and defend it; I could do this in one week.
I could have gotten the PhD in 3.5 years, if my advisor had been willing to colaborate.
Then my second article was published. Or rather, what should have been my second article… but wasn’t. 75% of the research in that article was mine; I had done the actual writing. But the only names that appeared were those of my advisor, a different student (who was listed as the principal researcher and had done the other 25% of the research), and the other student’s advisor. This is considered plagiarism, legally.
I went to see my advisor, asked what was that supposed to mean. His answer:
“you are the best fucking researcher I’ve ever worked with, and you’re a foreigner. You can’t go anywhere without my permission and if you complain it will be your word against two professors. I’ve figured out that between the grant you got from Spain and working for the University, I could get you for free for 11 years, so there’s no fucking way I’ll let you go sooner.”
The graduate advisor for the department was the other professor involved.
The head of the department is a useless asshole who doesn’t know hydrogen from helium and who was angry at me because I had not wanted to join his research group. (1)
Speaking with other professors I was able to obtain confirmation that my advisor and the graduate advisor had no intention to bulge. It also indicated that nobody would speak up on my side, if I went to the dean; the professors would “protect their own” even though it actually meant harming the program.
So, I got an MD without thesis, which I already had the credits for and which did not require my advisor’s permission.
Any further questions about the importance of proper “authoring”?
(1) Actually, he was angry at everybody who had not been interested in joining his group. He taught one compulsory course, didn’t know the first thing about it, gave As to all “his” students, Ds to all the rest of us. In 75 years or so, that department had had 11 graduate students “on probation” and only one had been able to get out of it; this guy’s boutade sent 29 people to probation, some with averages over 3.7, and all of us got out of probation. The university’s own mechanisms hadn’t noticed anything amiss in Denmark, so excuse me if I don’t think the dean of graduate studies was particularly intelligent.