The case of Fatima’ dilemma is related to the issue of the intellectual property (IP) fraud. Although the United Arab Emirates has a well-defined set of rules regarding the authority to use IP (Khedr, 2010), the guidelines have not yet been disseminated properly at the universities among both professors and students. Not having been spread and implemented accordingly, the IP laws remain the major reasons why Fatima, as well as many other students, does not know how to save time and resources while overcoming serious issues. They often encounter intellectual property theft committed by their supervisors, peers, or fellow researchers who cheat and publish the work done by someone as their own. For example, Fatima’s supervisor had been involved in academic dishonesty by publishing one of his student’s work without giving her any credit (Bell, 2014). Therefore, it becomes necessary that Fatima takes actions which protect not only her intellectual creation but also the work of future students attending the same university.
Fatima needs to take immediate action on the theft done by the supervisor because the delay would create further issues. Initially, she should contact her supervisor and discuss the problem in person. This decision would provide Fatima with a chance to retain a healthy working relationship with the supervisor and to ease her worries about the possible complications with her degree. Instead of directly blaming the supervisor for the unethical act he had performed, Fatima could convey the message in a softer tone. She should discuss with the supervisor the negative consequences and hurdles which she would have to face in the case she is not given credit for the work she had been doing. She should tell him about the issues she had resolved while staying away from home and working out in the field. He should know about her future plans and family life which could demonstrate how serious are the problems she would have to tackle in the case she is not able to complete the degree within the planned timeframe. Moreover, Fatima should remind her supervisor how honest and competent she had been throughout their scientific cooperation. This frank discussion might assist Fatima in encouraging her supervisor to admit his fault and feel sympathy for his student.
If Fatima convinces her supervisor, it will not be very difficult to receive credits for the data and work that have been already published. The supervisor should then address the editor of the journals that he needs to mention his student’s contribution. The letter might include the justification that either Fatima’s name was unintentionally missed or supervisor did not realize that he had used data of his student in the published work. Although certain research journals have policies that no author names would be added after the publication, a strong statement of the supervisor might make an impact on the editor. Fatima might not be able to get the credit as the first author, but at least she could make the reference to the article. Even if she is the second or third author, she can use the work in her final dissertation. In fact, it is the best possible solution to resolve the conflict between the student and the supervisor peacefully. The supervisor would not be accused of stealing the work of his student. Indeed, IP theft would become the case if Fatima described the issue to the Vice-Chancellor of the university or filed the claim in the court. On the other hand, the student would also be able to use her work and timely complete her degree requirements without being involved in the legal formalities.
Since there is a significant probability that Fatima’s supervisor might not acknowledge his mistake and could challenge Fatima to prove her points, she should be ready to sacrifice her time and to reproduce certain pieces of her research. In this case, Fatima would have to express herself on different forums. Firstly, she would need to inform the head of department and the academic board about the unethical accident happened with her. Before revealing the issue, she should gather the proofs, including emails she had been sending to her supervisor during the period of their scientific cooperation. She should also forward these emails to the journal where she discovered that her supervisor had published the piece of their work without her consent. This information would make the editors of the journal place the supervisor on the blacklist even if they could not add Fatima’s name to already published papers. After, the university would create the committee to investigate the case. The members would probably decide to dismiss the supervisor as his actions cannot be tolerated by the academic society due to the possible loss of future students and university’s reputation (Pabian, 2015). Therefore, before forwarding the complaint to the authorities, Fatima should consider searching for other supervisors. It would be better if she can find one within the same university as the efforts required for the admission and other official procedures would be saved. This second option would pose new obstacles for Fatima prolonging her studies, but it would definitely be a lesson for other university supervisors who have ever tried to steal the intellectual property of their students.
Without doubt, Fatima needs to take actions in order to decrease the issues of academic dishonesty. She should first talk to him in person to see whether it can be resolved. The second option is to bring this issue to the higher authorities that could decide to dismiss and blacklist the supervisor.
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