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Started by Vid, June 09, 2023, 09:11:03 AM

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Hi folks,

I have been blessed with your brilliant feedback and recommendations before so I need your help and advice as to how to handle a situation.

So the story: I got a phase 1 NSF grant to work on a project, get the initial results, and develop the idea for the phase 2 proposal. I have 2 Co-PIs from outside my institution (NICE collaborators) and I also have 1 Co-PI (I call him Allen) who is in the same institution as me. We have been collaborating with the state stakeholders and decision-makers as part of this project (I have built many connections with the stakeholders) and we have bimonthly meetings with the project team to discuss the results and ideas for phase 2.  During the group meetings, Allen used to tell me that "your ideas for phase 2 do not have intellectual merits"!! and I won't be able to contribute X, Y, and Z for phase 2 as it is very huge research work. 

Anyway, recently one of the state stakeholders mentioned to me that someone from your institution is working on this type of project with us. I asked for the contact info and he connected me with another faculty in my institution (I call him "Allen's collaborator"). We did set up a Zoom meeting (Allen was in the meeting as well). So Allen's collaborator discussed their project--they got $2 M from the Navy 2 months ago and they are doing the exact same things that I have been doing with the NSF phase 1 project and also what I have been discussing about phase 2 ideas in the group meetings (Allen was quiet in the Zoom meeting). it seems Allen got the ideas from my NSF project and sold it to Army Corps!! Allen is also working with the same stakeholders as I have been working with for the last 2 years (got connected to them through my NSF project). The outcomes of the phase 1 project include 2 research papers (1 Nature paper) and >25 conference presentations in which Allen is a co-author in all of them ( these are the hard works of my students and me, and I included Allen and also other Co-PIs in the papers--I feel I gave too many credits to Allen!).

I came to know about Allen's Navy project last week. Allen and Allen's collaborator are politically STRONG faculty in my university and have political connections in the state and region.

Now I am developing the idea for the NSF phase 2 proposal. Honesty and integrity are very important for me when I build collaboration and I have no doubt that I have to remove Allen from the phase 2 proposal. So I guess my question is, how to diplomatically remove Allen from the phase 2 proposal since we are in the same institution?

Sorry for the long story, your advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, guys.

"I see the world through eyes of love. I see love in every flower, in the sun and the moon, and in every person I meet." Louise L. Hay


correction: they got a $2 M grant from the Navy (Allen's collaborator said in the Zoom meeting that they got other grants as well such as from the Army Corps--but the Navy grant is the big one!). Thank you.
"I see the world through eyes of love. I see love in every flower, in the sun and the moon, and in every person I meet." Louise L. Hay


Lost the plot here but it sounds as though Allen took your ideas and got an additional grant?

Maybe the first step is to get everyone in a room and align activities.


Have an open conversation with Allen. Share your concerns and let them explain their side of the story. Then make a decision based on that.

IME, these sorts of disputes sometimes have a more innocent explanation than you might fear. For example, Allen may believe they have been working in this area for a long time and feel like they brought you into the area (whether it is true or not). Or they could be a selfish prick, and you are only now seeing it.

In either case, you are now in a tough spot if you choose to continue this research without Allen and Allen's collaborator. It is a bit of a red flag to outsiders when ppl from the same place do the same research but don't collaborate. It can make everyone look bad and may lead to resentments, jealousy, and wasted resources. If the other two are not irredeemable jerks, you may still try to salvage some collaboration with them. If they are, then it sounds like you are in a bad environment for this line of research.


ciao_yall: Yes, this is the reason I had a Zoom meeting with them. In the meeting, they discussed their funded projects. I mentioned in the meeting that we have done the same research with Allen as part of an NSF grant...anyway...

fizzycist: To be honest Allen had an insignificant contribution to my NSF phase 1 project. I do not feel I lose anything if I remove Allen from the Phase 2 proposal. but I should be strategic.
"I see the world through eyes of love. I see love in every flower, in the sun and the moon, and in every person I meet." Louise L. Hay