I am a recently hired postdoc. I was tasked to prepare two documents for my first project. The project was for a company where we needed to provide results when it's over. I was working well on my own and I had many meetings with my PI and was always giving me suggestions. In one meeting, the PI told me that he will bring in a senior postdoc to review and edit the documents. He told me that I can work with him on this and ask him to prepare sections for the documents. He said he is bringing him over not because I was doing a bad job but the other postdoc has more experience than me in one stuff and he could help.

I have no issue with teamwork, I also understood what PI was playing it safe and probably wanted to avoid this scenario: I will be work on the documents for the entire period and when the deadlines are over, he will find out that I did a bad job and there isn't too much catch up.

The issue is that when I met the senior postdoc and explained the project and send him documents, I told him that I need help with section X and Z. He said he will try because he is working on other projects as well. For the first document, he only left comments to re arrange some sections and told me that the first document is good and already had all the content. I was happy because I needed an external validity and I was nervous because this was my first project. I also gave him the benefit of the doubt because the first document wat 97% over. However, he wrote in the document that he prepared the document with me. As far as I can see, he only reviewed the document and left me some comments, he said he can't write sections because he is busy and I have a long email from the PI saying that he should edit the documents as appropriate.

I didn't want to raise the issue because it was simply my first encounter with everyone. I don't want to create a bad impression when it comes to teamwork. For the second document, I wasn't making a lot of progress and I had so many things to do as well. I emailed him that I need help with some sections I can't work on the document this week because I have a presentation. 10 Days later and the document is still the same. I know he is planning to leave me comments on the side that will make me do more work and actually "help me". I don't know how to react to this whole situation. Should I talk to my colleague directly? or should I tell the PI first? Or I should just let it go.

  • "he only reviewed the document" Let's meet again in 5 years, when you are the more senior postdoc. "I don't know how to react to this whole situation." I see a very specific situation: a senior postdoc with a lot to do with his own projects, with very few spare minutes for a young postdoc. And then there is a young postdoc, who think he is doing a lot but among the things he should "teamwork" he managed to prepare one document and one was left behind because he started having too much do. Teamwork is not "fill the hole I left because I had too much to do".
    – user149718
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 14:15
  • I don't think you read my question. The PI ASKED THE SENIOR POSTDOC TO PREPARE THE DOCUMENT. He was assigned a couple of tasks in a written email. HE TOLD ME TO GIVE HIM SECTIONS TO PREPARE, TWICE IN FACT. Which means the PI is more aware of his current schedule. What he did instead is left 2 COMMENTS AND WROTE HIS NAME.
    – userte
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 14:39
  • @tensors_are_4_engineers and what's wrong with me focusing on my work and the tasks assigned to me vs. to my colleague? Where did I say that my work is more important? I am literally following instructions that were given to me. And the instructions were literally "to fill the hole I left because I don't have much experience". Even in 5 years, I would NEVER slap my name in a document I barely even touched. Especially that documents has specific places for "PREPARED BY and EREVIEWED BY"
    – userte
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 14:45
  • I don't understand. "HE TOLD ME TO GIVE HIM SECTIONS TO PREPARE, TWICE IN FACT." do you mean he asked you twice to do something? that is a sign of you being busy. From your question and your comments, I think you are taking things too personally. Please clarify in your question this thing about the document having specific places for prepared by/reviewed by. If that is the issue, you can always shift his/her name to "reviewed by", since it is clear to you and to the PI who is who. If you prepared the document, but you were not asked to do that, well, too bad.
    – user149718
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 15:53
  • I never said your work is more (or less) important. If the senior did not fill any hole, it is because according to him/her, there were no hole to be filled. In this, I do not see anything else than approval of what you did.
    – user149718
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


I'll guess that you have already received all the "help" you are likely to get. The PI wanted the other person to "review and edit". You also suggest that the PI is not unhappy with your work.

I suggest you take it for what it is and depend on your own skill and experience to prepare the best documents you can. The PI will probably want to comment before releasing them.

The other post-doc certainly has the right to focus on their own work and may not have any issues with yours sufficient to object to it.

I'd think that, except for self confidence, you are in a pretty good place.

  • The document was submitted and they were impressed. I know I am a little nervous, not as I was before when I started though. I was right not to make any comments at the beginning because I do understand that he might be busy. I was a bit pressed last week and I asked for his help and he agreed. But I was a bit annoyed that I was waiting for his "help" for 10 days and didn't do anything and I know it will be like the first document again. It's fine. It is what it is. Thank you for your answer!
    – userte
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 14:57

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