I am an undergraduate, #1 in my year in terms of GPA, and one of my professors asked me if I was interested to help him with a research competition. The goal was to publish a paper and hopefully win a reward.

Fast forward this professor is treating me like a slave (expecting email replies within 6 hours), his team is not interested at all (very slow, not working at all on the paper) and last time I talked to him he told me "maybe we won't make it in time for the competition". This is after I have spend 2 months working day and night on this.

I have passed his course so I am not scared of a bad grade. We have another 2 months for the competition.

He is also trying to "force" me do my thesis with him, something after everything that happened, I will never do.

I am very polite and he doesn't know I feel this way.

My goal is to end this ASAP and avoid him badmouthing me to other professors. Maybe he will submit a mediocre paper, maybe not, I really have no idea. Seems like he doesn't care at all about this competition and his goal was to make me work with him.

  • 2
    Of course, he wanted you to work with him on his research, and my guess would be that he talked up the competition for your benefit, not his, since students seem to care more about those kinds of things.
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 11:51
  • 3
    "this professor is treating me like a slave (expecting email replies within 6 hours)" Sorry, but this made me smile. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


I would say there is no way to totally prevent badmouthing happening. You can adopt an extremely wise strategy to get yourself out of that shet, but, you know, he can (if he wants, of course) use the fact that you quit before you should to condemn you (I hope this will not happen.). So I think what you want is to be honest to him about how you felt. Try not to talk to him in a tone that judges; try to first report or state what you saw neutrally and then tell him how these led to your decision. If you can do this in a mature, unemotional, analytical way, and if he is at least a reasonable person, then I think you guys can break up peacefully. Be careful that you don't give him an impression that you did the decision majorly out of emotion; this would lead him to consider you an unprofessional "employee" (if this is the case, who knows what implications he can come up with to harm you; you want to minimize the potential negative consequences.) .

If you did the above, then simply walk away and pay no mind to the consequences.

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