I am a phd student in IIT Bombay. I have found sometimes that professors or faculty behaving rudely especially with phd students. The situation being the student demanding better guidance on his research or while reporting complaints on unavailability of research facilites(infrastructure). Partly it seems the reason for the professors behaving so is because of their own frustration with their job which they pass it on to the students when they raise questions for which they don't have answers. And partly some professors think behaving rudely is the right way to scare students away so that they don't come back and trouble them. Also often the faculty feel they are being embarassed by being compared to their peers elsewhere and are being looked down upon, so have a bellicose attitude and start fighting at the slightest provocation. This is extremely frustrating for graduate students and they ask themselves why they made this grave mistake of joining for graduate studies here. But since few years already pass off by the time they realize this, they just try to finish a half hearted unhappy phd and try to run away from this place quickly with a wounded heart. Many of my seniors have experienced this who are now doing postdocs in US. How does one not let one's heart wounded in such a situation and how does one deal with such unpleasant rudeness on part of faculty?

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    Go somewhere else, and tell the department chair why.
    – JeffE
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 21:24
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    @JeffE: That's easier said than done; going anywhere else in India would likely be considered a major step down for most of the students, and could jeopardize their later careers.
    – aeismail
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 21:37
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    Really? There are really no alternatives but to accept (and most likely perpetuate) a culture of endemic abuse? Does every physicist (or whatever) in India come from IIT Bombay? Any student strong enough to be at the best department in India is strong enough to get admission and funding in a good department elsewhere.
    – JeffE
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 1:50
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    @JeffE: I agree with you dear sir that a capable student will likely find another place to do research. But would that mean an erring student can always be corrected by a professor, but erring professors can never be corrected? Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 19:31
  • This might be an appropriate question for the Etiquette proposal if it makes it into beta. I suggest anyone interested in that proposal follows it, recommends to friends and helps contribute when it gets to beta stage. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


There may be more happening with the professors to make them as rude as you say. However, having said that, there is no excuse for incivility and rudeness - it is not professional and certainly not conducive to a productive academic environment.

On to your main question, on how to do deal with the day-to-day rudeness, I was in such an environment when I was completing my honours in geology. This situation is similar to an unpleasant workplace.

This is how I got through the honours year:

  • Focus on your goal, not on the personalities - by this, I mean always 're-focus' your thoughts to be task orientated (not easy to do).

  • Form a friendship group amongst your fellow students, not to complain what is happening, but to mutually re-focus your attentions to your work.

  • Don't take anything said to you personally (also sometimes not easy to do).

Is it at all possible to transfer to another research group/university? it does sound that the academics' frustrations are being taken out on the graduate students.

I hope this helps.

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