Tried to quit lab and PI threatened my co-authorship?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ibrokeanegg, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. ibrokeanegg

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    Hey everyone! I made an account for the sole purpose of asking this question because I'm really not sure what to do.

    I've been working in a research lab for a little more than 2 years. I started in college and during my gap year I've continued my work in the lab full time. I've been working on several projects, one in particular I've been working on for pretty much the whole 2 years. I want to quit in March, and I told my PI of my plans. He said something along the lines of "if you want to be a co-author on this paper then I would think twice about leaving". He was quite stern about it.

    I honestly don't know what to tell him. I've worked on this project for 2 years (writing some of the manuscript, making figures, and all of the other typical bench work associated). Can he really just not put my name on the paper as a means of leverage to get me to stay?

    I really don't want to continue working in this lab up until medical school starts. I feel super burnt out. But I also don't want all of my efforts to not lead to a publication. What should I do?
     
  2. Goro

    Faculty Verified Expert 7+ Year Member

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    Lacking a co-authorship won't hurt you.

    Having one won't necessarily help you, although pubs are rare.

    I perceive that you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. However, getting into med school does NOT require this paper.

    Your PI is a prick, too. And yes, he can omit you from the authorship list, despite all the work you've done. Hell, I've seen PIs do this to their own post-docs.

    So it's time to bail and don't look back.
     
  3. OP
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    ibrokeanegg

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    I've already been accepted into a medical school, but the schools I'm waiting to hear back from are very research focused and it was my belief that finally being able to update them with a pub would improve my chances.

    But you're right, I should quit and not look back. I am very satisfied with what I've learned and I really just want to move forward with my life. What do I tell my PI? He's not exactly the most understanding and approachable guy.
     
  4. freedoctor17

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    If the paper hasn't even been submitted yet it's highly unlikely it'll be published in time to update these schools. They take a while to review them and most of the time send back for revisions.

    I'd say to tell your PI that you are willing to train someone on the lab techniques (if you know how to do things no one else can) for the next few weeks before leaving and then just book it out of there. I'm staying in my lab until April but then I'm done and gonna make sure I enjoy my May, June, and potentially July depending on where I decide on going.
     
  5. Tenk

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    Bye Felicia
     
  6. OrthoTraumaMD

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    If you have been accepted, hightail it out of there and tell whoever is in charge of your PI (if he works for some kind of department) that it is extremely unprofessional of him to threaten your authorship after you have put in the work.
     
  7. Matthew9Thirtyfive

    Matthew9Thirtyfive Class of 2023!
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    As others have said, it isn’t worth it. Even research focused schools don’t expect you to have pubs, and even if it were submitted now, it’s unlikely to be published by the time your schools have made their decisions. And submitted papers don’t mean much.
     
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  8. OP
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    ibrokeanegg

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    Thank you all so much for your responses, it was very helpful and encouraging.

    My last concern is that he would contact the medical schools I applied to and tell them I abandoned my project right before the finish line or something. Is that even a thing people do? Would that matter at all?

    I only ask because I've heard from the grad students in my lab that he's a big fan of calling people's employers to let them know his thoughts on that individual. Goods stuff for the most part, but I've heard rumors that he bad mouths his students too.
     
  9. OrthoTraumaMD

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    No. They wouldn’t care in my experience, if you already got accepted.... unless the adcoms here think different...? Paging @Goro
     
  10. Ad2b

    Ad2b SDN Gold Donor
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    In the business world, depending on our level, we give 2 - 3 weeks notice; that is considered professional courtesy. Given what the others, with far more experience in the medical profession have said, I would simply write it up and submit.

    "Dear Dr. Asdf,

    Wanted to thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime to work for and research with you for the last 2+ years. The techniques I've learned and analytical abilities strengthened will last a lifetime and surely help me through medical school and my career.

    However, as I mentioned, I need my last day to be March 1, 2019.

    I would like to transition knowledge to someone else if that person is available. Please let me know who that is.

    Thank you again for everything.

    Sincerely,

    ibrokenegg"

    That's it. Then leave. Come back the next day. Whatever he does is on him, not a reflection on you. Remember that. :)

    Edited to add: if this person goes around your backside and degrades you, that's akin to slander if it becomes problematic and affects you and medical school AND ... more than that ...

    If makes him look like an utter donkey's behind and that's not being kind to the donkey. People will see through that. It reflects on him and none of that is good.

    Congrats on acceptance!!:soexcited::clap::bow:
     
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  11. Goro

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    Admission Deans hang up the phone on disgruntled callers.
     
  12. Goro

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    Then you don't need this guy or his letter, and even at the Powerhouses, you can get in without a pub. LizzyM, who is at a school in the ionosphere, tells us that < 5% of people have pubs.
     
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  13. kepler16b

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    Based on the ethics in research workshops I've attended, this would be an issue that you could elevate to the administration at your school if you wanted.

    First I would talk it out with any other academic mentors you might have (other profs you're close with, etc).
     
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  14. meronebib

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    I would not want my name to be on the same paper as that PI.
     
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  15. jarednogeek

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    Don’t let anyone threaten you especially over something you don’t need. Leave and don’t look backs
     
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  16. atomi

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    Wait, do people actually do this? Vindictive old farts call up Med schools and try to deep six some young person’s future career for some petty reason?

    I guess I’m not surprised. It’s academics after all. Can’t wait to high tail it out of the system permanently in 4 months.
     
  17. Goro

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    More often ex-boyfriends or girlfriends. Never heard of an academic being that petty.
     
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  18. Ad2b

    Ad2b SDN Gold Donor
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    Minnesota hats off to thee! Congrats
     
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  19. Goro

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    Off to attending land??
     
  20. muskthemfall

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    Nope out of there, especially since you've been accepted. I was in the same boat last year and stuck around 6 extra months till the publication was accepted. The lack of respect that PIs have for research assistants (especially unpaid ones who are volunteering 30+ hours a week) is something that really needs to be addressed.
     
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  21. MDhopeful74

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    Hypothetically couldn't OP stay until the paper was submitted (not accepted), and then leave? Wouldn't OP's name still be on the paper at that point, if it were to be accepted?
    That being said, do report the PI to whoever is above him.
     
  22. OP
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    ibrokeanegg

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    Just wanted to update this thread and say that shortly after I made this post, I was accepted to a "top 20" school with a very heavy research focus lol. Looks like it's curtains for my PI. Thank you everyone for the advice and support!
     
  23. OrthoTraumaMD

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    Love it. I hope you stick it to him when you leave.
     
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  24. Goro

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