Questions tagged [interpersonal-issues]

Questions concerning relationships and dealing with problems between people.

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330
votes
12answers
51k views

I don't want to kill any more mice, but my advisor insists that I must in order to get my PhD

When my supervisor pitched the PhD to me, it was all about analyzing "big data". I had BSc/MSc experience in wet-lab biology (mainly culturing cells), however I wanted to branch out into ...
208
votes
11answers
43k views

Have I embarassed my supervisors by solving a problem that a PhD student in my group was working on without success?

I'm a bachelor student in mathematics writing my thesis at a small university in the US. A PhD student that has the same supervisor has spent a very significant amount of time working exclusively on a ...
155
votes
9answers
19k views

Prof's neurological health is declining rapidly. What can I (TA) do?

I'm a law student acting as a teaching assistant/fellow for a tenured and notable law professor. Between last year when I took the course myself and now when I am a TA/TF, his mental acuity and health ...
152
votes
9answers
21k views

What to do about questions that are designed to embarrass the speaker?

I've attended a lot of seminars and lectures by now, and it's typical for the chair of the seminar to offer audience members a chance to ask questions of the speaker about their work after the ...
135
votes
10answers
41k views

I slept with my advisor's daughter and she is blackmailing me now. What can I do?

I am doing a PhD in the US. I am in my mid-twenties and will graduate next spring. My advisor was very good and nice to me. He invited me to have dinner at his home many times and then I met his ...
128
votes
10answers
32k views

Should a young professor avoid using dating apps?

I am a recent PhD graduate in mathematics, and I will be starting a tenure-track position this fall at a small liberal arts college in a northern US city. My graduate degree was completed at a large ...
110
votes
15answers
31k views

How to approach a student with bad hygiene?

I teach engineering at a community college in the US. I currently have a student with very poor hygiene. He stinks pretty badly, has obviously greasy hair, doesn’t change his clothes frequently, and I ...
108
votes
8answers
13k views

What should I do if my advisor is forcing me to vote on a specific candidate in IEEE elections?

The IEEE holds yearly elections for senior positions in its societies. Every member of the IEEE has the right to vote in these elections, including me. My advisor, however, has candidates who, for one ...
101
votes
7answers
31k views

Students bringing babies to class

I'm a student; recently, in one of my classes, a fellow student brought their baby in a stroller. She may have asked the professor beforehand for permission to do this. The baby cried, made loud ...
85
votes
9answers
15k views

First author doesn't want a co-author to read the whole paper

First author is a PhD student, as am I. All of the other co-authors are our supervisors. The first author doesn't want me to read the paper, because we are both PhD students and I might plagiarize (?!)...
82
votes
13answers
13k views

How to deal with a nosy fellow graduate student?

There is another graduate student at my school working in the same area as me that is extremely nosy about my work. His curiosity definitely goes beyond the normal amount of "What are you working on?" ...
82
votes
4answers
9k views

How to deal with an academic 'stalker'?

Several years ago, my colleagues and I attempted to get a small paper published, it was rejected and we ran out of time - and as it was a 'side-project' type of paper, we left it at that. We thought ...
80
votes
11answers
23k views

Is the phrase “thanks, but no thanks” appropriate in an email sent to a supervisor?

I recently have had a discussion about my friend's tone in his email. His supervisor asked him whether he wants to attend a summer school in May. He wanted to thank him for his invitation and also ...
80
votes
20answers
17k views

How to deal with a colleague who always puts you down?

I am just starting out my PhD which will take 5 years to complete and I am dealing with a person in my own research group who cannot stop putting me down every chance she gets. In our research ...
76
votes
5answers
15k views

My supervisor misjudges my knowledge

I started working on my master thesis a few weeks ago. When I talk to my supervisor and try to discuss new ideas she always starts to explain very basic material that is only tangentially related. ...
71
votes
13answers
33k views

Dealing with a PhD student reneging on an agreement to appear in social media

Inspired by this question, I have a similar but somehow different problem. I recently assumed a tenure-track position. One of my strategies for a visible start is to have a strong presence in social ...
71
votes
9answers
20k views

Should I challenge my professor who thinks he's always right?

One of my professors has been in the IT development fields for over 40 years. He thinks he is up-to-date with all the latest research and technology. But I believe he's not. The problem is - he hates ...
67
votes
8answers
19k views

How should I respond to a worrying email from an ex student?

I run a lab at an R1 university in the USA. Almost ten years ago I removed an undergraduate volunteer student from my laboratory group for harassing another student. Today I received a multi-page, ...
66
votes
5answers
15k views

What can be done about a disruptive classmate?

There is a classmate who repeatedly interrupts the flow of lectures in various ways. We assume he has learning difficulties of some kind due to how he acts and because he has an assistant with him in ...
65
votes
8answers
18k views

While showing my work to my supervisor, an adult website appeared. Am I in trouble?

I will try to make this brief. I am a student at a prominent university in the UK, and while I was showing my thesis work, a website, to my supervisor, the website crashed. Then I was asked to close ...
63
votes
11answers
23k views

Is it ethical to tell my teaching assistant that I like him?

I, a twenty-year-old female, have come to admire the graduate teaching assistant for my summer course quite strongly. I'm extremely interested in what he has to say, I always pay attention, never use ...
63
votes
14answers
14k views

How to deal with people judging your 'overproductiveness'?

I am in 4th year postdoc working in applied math areas in which 1-3 papers a year is considered a good publication rate. I have been publishing 10-13 papers a year for the last 4-5 years (have never ...
62
votes
10answers
13k views

Any good way to tell a faculty candidate “We don't want you”?

I serve on a faculty search committee at a large university here in the US. The part of the job none of us enjoys is informing a candidate who's visited and given a teaching demonstration that we've ...
61
votes
11answers
11k views

My advisor demands second authorship, but my collaborator contributed much more than him. I don't want to be unethical, what should I do?

My PhD supervisor has contributed 0% to my research and he even does not know the basics of my research. On the other hand, I have a collaborator from another university who has contributed ...
61
votes
4answers
6k views

How can I assist other graduate students who may feel increasingly “unwelcome” due to their countries of origin?

I work in a research group with a large number of international graduate students. Recent news in my country (the United States) has been deeply unsettling for some of these students, especially the ...
60
votes
7answers
11k views

What physical contact, if any, is acceptable between a supervisor and a student?

I was rather surprised that in this answer which suggests that a supervisor giving a side-hug to a research assistant is acceptable behaviour. I try and limit the physical contact with my students/...
58
votes
5answers
18k views

How to handle a student who will not accept that he is wrong?

I am a university marker TA, and after midterm exam I met with a student who would not accept that he was wrong. He thought his answers were correct but didn't explain to me why his answers were ...
55
votes
5answers
12k views

How should a teaching-assistant deal with an angry student?

This happened two semesters ago, when I was teaching-assistant to a class of bachelor students. The lecturer had such marking weights, 30% for teaching assistant class including all the homework and ...
52
votes
14answers
22k views

How to sign your email to students, so to avoid their immature behavior?

Or how would you like to be addressed? As a graduate TA, I went by my first name. But I thought that some students were becoming too friendly. They took things for granted (for example, asking for a ...
52
votes
7answers
12k views

Student wants to show everybody how much he knows

I have read this question, where the OP asked how to handle silly questions. In the excellent answer of Irwin, the 6th point attracted my attention: If it's a matter of the student talking on and ...
52
votes
5answers
16k views

Are relationships allowed between students and faculty?

What sorts of restrictions do universities place on romantic or sexual relationships between faculty and graduate students, and what are the underlying issues that motivate these restrictions? For ...
51
votes
7answers
19k views

Is talking to a professor about personal issues acceptable?

I've been struggling a lot recently with stuff thats been going on, I'm in therapy and receiving help but I'm still having a really hard time. I have a professor who's always asking if I'm doing okay ...
50
votes
6answers
19k views

Friendship with Professor okay?

My professor and I walk to and from for every class I have with her, I am a female senior student and my professor is in her 30's. I've gotten to know her really well, we even had a random dinner ...
49
votes
12answers
9k views

What to do with an overtly exasperating colleague in computer science?

I am working on my undergraduate research project in an HPCC. Whoever does programming knows this is a "teach-yourself" skill. Everytime a problem arises, you search the wealth of tutorials and guides ...
49
votes
4answers
7k views

A frequent reviewer seems to have a grudge against me. What to do?

(Asking on behalf of a friend.) I work in math, in a field where reviews are not double-blind: reviewers are anonymous, but review copies of papers include attribution. I’ve received several reviews ...
48
votes
9answers
43k views

As a male student, did I say something wrong to this female professor?

A professor and I spoke recently (I'm a grad student), and she told me about her upcoming sabbatical, and I wished her well and was genuinely excited for her and her travel plans. But the reaction ...
48
votes
4answers
7k views

Withdraw manuscript from peer review after finding a major error

I just received a major revision decision (1st round) for a manuscript I submitted to a reputable journal. After looking into one of the reviewer's comments I found a major error in my analysis. The ...
47
votes
15answers
22k views

How to professionally handle sexist remarks by a student?

Suppose that you noticed a student saying a sexist remark to you, and the student is completely unaware of it. In the spirit of fighting sexism, I feel that I should maybe say something. But on the ...
47
votes
13answers
9k views

Is it acceptable for a student to connect with a professor on LinkedIn?

Earlier in the semester, I was informed by both an advisor/academic counselor and a professor at my university that it is a good idea to connect with professors on LinkedIn if they have interests in ...
46
votes
8answers
12k views

Saying no to student requests for excessive appointments and help solving homework

I am relatively new to teaching University undergraduate classes in mathematics. One of the harder things I've had to do is to say 'no'. To somehow respectfully deny a student what they're asking for. ...
46
votes
9answers
8k views

How to comfortably interact with famous professors?

I know that they are "just as human as we are", but I feel somewhat uncomfortable to talk nonchalantly with the top-notch math researchers and professors in my department because of their social ...
45
votes
11answers
24k views

How can I avoid inadvertently offending my female peers and getting into trouble for it?

Attention has been drawn recently to an incident that occurred at a scientific conference and its sequelae described in this article: The fuss started when [Prof. X] and [Prof. Y] ended up in the ...
45
votes
7answers
11k views

How to explain that I do not want to visit a country due to personal safety concern?

I have been invited to visit a professor in a different country. I am very reluctant to go. The government of this country is currently under investigation by the UN for suspicions of crimes against ...
44
votes
9answers
12k views

How to move forward following an unpleasant situation with colleagues?

I'm a recently hired assistant professor at a small teaching university. The department head has been successful in dramatically increasing student enrollment, such that our department is viewed ...
43
votes
6answers
22k views

Letter writer snapped at my reminder email. What can I do in the future to prevent this, and should I still accept his letter?

I sent a reminder email one day before the due date for a couple of my applications to grad school. It said something along the lines of This is just a reminder that first due dates are tomorrow: [...
43
votes
1answer
6k views

How to proceed when graduate advisor treats me terribly, possibly because of age?

I am an older graduate student who went back to school after getting laid off. Going back to school wasn't easy and I had to take some classes to prepare myself for graduate work. I had one ...
43
votes
5answers
3k views

Should a postdoc talk about his depression with his mentor?

I am a postdoc in mathematics and I work in the US. Two months ago I was diagnosed with moderate depression. In retrospect, I can say that I must have starting suffering from it last spring, though I ...
42
votes
7answers
17k views

What can I do if a student in my lab threatens to tell lies about me, and my advisor doesn't want to fire her?

I'm doing my Masters right now and I am a new lab member (I've been there for just 4 months). A undergrad student didn't like it when I told her to follow biosafety rules when handling dangerous ...
42
votes
5answers
5k views

How to respond to the trivialisation of one’s work and unjustified demands for a considerable extension of the research?

I am a graduate student in engineering whose work includes a lot of programming and implementation of the developed theories. I am not a computer scientist, but I am a fairly skilled programmer, at ...
42
votes
2answers
2k views

How do academics reconcile simultaneously collaborating and competing with colleagues?

In many fields of academia, a professor must get grants to fund his research (e.g., medicine, biology). Early in academic career, a scientist can have naive expectations about how things work in ...

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