Before Dani decides what to do about her conflict with her advisor, it’s important that she is really clear about what is going on, and what her needs are. Let’s consider what is going on from Dani’s perspective.

1. What are the facts?
What does she actually know?
  • She has written a paper
  • She wants it to be published
  • She wants to be listed as the only author
  • Her advisor has sent through an email with a request to be named as co-author
What has she assumed?
  • That naming her advisor as co-author isn’t the norm or the way things should be done
  • That it would not be beneficial for her to have her advisor listed as co-author
What evidence does she have?
  • Her completed paper, that she says is all her own work
  • The email from her advisor
Could anyone else have other information that might change things?
  • Was there a formal or informal agreement on authorship of publications in the past?
  • What are the conditions of her PhD agreement?
  • Is there any relevant university policy?
  • What are the journal requirements?
  • Is there anyone else relevant to the situation who may have information? (The Graduate Research School office, other lecturers in the department, fellow PhD students?)
2. What is Dani feeling?
  • It’s not fair
  • She doesn’t feel listing her advisor as co-author is appropriate
  • She doesn’t want to do anything that could ruin their student-advisor relationship
  • Really not happy about the situation
3. What’s really important?

Sometimes people get focused on a particular outcome and don’t realise that it is not actually the most important thing to them. A useful question to ask yourself is “why do I want this particular outcome?”

For example, Dani may say she wants to be the solo author on this paper, but if we asked her to explain why she wanted that, she might have reasons like:

  • She feels strongly about her hard work being acknowledged by her peers
  • She wants to apply for a job that requires a certain number of solo publications in the selection criteria
  • Both her parents are academics and it’s a family expectation that she have a solo publication at this stage of her career

This resource sheet can help you get clearer about what’s going on for a conflict you are involved in.