Intellectual Property

Description of the Problem

You find a novel solution to an important problem posed by your advisor; however, your advisor sees this as an opportunity for him to get published, downplays the significance of the results, collates a paper and submits it before you are any the wiser (he acknowledges a discussion with you, but does not include you as an author).

You are absolutely clear that this idea was yours, and feel suitably put out. You approach your advisor and make a complaint, but he empathizes with you and tells you to be a bit quicker with the write-up next time. He tells you that’s just the way of the world. 

You decide not to leave it there, and approach the head of the department (going up one link in the management chain). You make your complaint to him, and he asks you for evidence, but you can’t provide any because you didn’t keep a dated note book: all of your notes are in several ring binders, some at home and some in your desk at work.You start feeling a bit silly, and the head advises you to drop the matter.


  • Should you drop the issue?
  • Are there long-term consequences for anyone to not dropping the issue?
  • Is there a fair way to make a claim to the results?
  • In the last question, what does "fair" mean?
  • The section on Educational Concerns has a case study about whistle blowing. Are there any whistle blower aspects to this case study?
 Gray arrow Intellectual Property Discussion