Questions tagged [social-skills]

Questions about professional etiquette, appropriate interpersonal behavior, or social graces/norms

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119
votes
15answers
34k views

How do you answer “Oh, you're a professor? What do you teach?”

I suspect anybody who's a professor knows this story: you meet someone new in a social setting and it comes up that you're a professor. The inevitable next question is, "oh, what do you teach?" It's ...
83
votes
10answers
16k views

What is a social strategy I can use to respond to “How's your PhD going?”

I was surprised when starting my PhD as to how much I get asked this question and how much I fail at answering it. Whenever I attempt an answer, I fumble around and the subject immediately changes ...
65
votes
6answers
14k views

Mistook new faculty member to be a student, how big a faux pas is it?

Today I was introduced in the cafeteria by a professor who I know to someone new by just their first name. Because of admissions season, I thought that the new person was a prospective grad student ...
64
votes
11answers
21k views

Difficult student would dispute every grade in the course and now wants letter of recommendation

I had a student in one of my courses that for every graded assignment would come to me and challenge the grade given, even though I provided a rubric to show exactly why the points where taken off. ...
62
votes
7answers
18k views

Professor being mistaken for a grad student

This question is the flip side of Mistook new faculty member to be a student, how big a faux pas is it? I'm an associate professor, and apparently I look young for my age. When I meet new people at ...
61
votes
9answers
65k views

Is it appropriate to buy a “thank you” gift for a PhD supervisor?

I am nearing the end of my PhD and I would quite like to buy a "thank you" gift for my supervisor (although, she's the socially awkward type who I'm sure will be greatly embarrassed to receive one). ...
60
votes
10answers
12k views

How to get work done on the weekends

As an undergraduate, I had a problem: I could work very efficiently during the week, but over the weekend I could get absolutely nothing done. Usually my plans for the weekend would include errands, ...
59
votes
8answers
10k views

If you're black, how do you answer “Oh you're a professor? So you teach African Studies?”

In a comment to How do you answer "Oh, you're a professor? What do you teach?", @JohnSmith wrote I'm black so it generally goes "Oh you're a professor? So you teach African Studies?...
57
votes
11answers
17k views

What is the effect of a PhD student dyeing their hair blue?

I'm a male 19 year old Phd student (in a field in the exact sciences), I dyed my hair bright blue. Personally, I think it transmits a great message and is generally cool. Although, I'm not sure how ...
52
votes
10answers
20k views

Is asking your PhD supervisor a basic question considered inappropriate?

I've done my Master's degree in Computational Mathematics. Then, because of several reasons, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in the field of Quantum Chemistry. The problem is, obviously, my lack of ...
48
votes
11answers
10k views

Is Facebook a necessary tool for a student?

I'm starting a master's degree in the autumn, and I recently received an email from the university inviting me to join the Facebook page for the course. However, I don't currently have an active ...
46
votes
5answers
15k views

Is it acceptable to use working hours to read general interest books?

Every year are published around a dozen of books directly related to my research. By directly I mean on the same topics of my research, normally by authors I am familiar with, and potential reference ...
43
votes
10answers
7k views

Do you keep your study notes publicly available?

I am considering to create a wiki/blog for most of my study notes that I have made or taken digitally. Also, for the handwritten and rough ones I am thinking about storing them in my GitHub ...
37
votes
3answers
3k views

Can I talk about articles I'm refereeing?

For the first time, I've been asked to referee an article for a journal, and a prestigious one. I work in Maths, so the article has been online as a preprint on arXiv for some time, and it was on the ...
36
votes
5answers
6k views

How to publish superseding results without creating enemies

While working on a research paper with a coauthor, I found an unpublished paper in arXiv and discovered out that the technique we developed in our paper can be used to improve a result in the ...
35
votes
8answers
6k views

What are the social norms associated with stealing free coffee? [closed]

Every morning, at the institution where I work, I attend a lecture series with on the order of 100 other students. The lecture hall is very central on campus, and large meetings are often held nearby -...
35
votes
6answers
7k views

What to do when no one speaks English around you?

Often when I attend conferences and meetings, there are some social activities sometimes specifically for graduate students to mix with each other and get to know other students and build possible ...
35
votes
2answers
1k views

Post-doc priorities: “Laundry list” vs. “Research trumps all”

I am a post-doc in the physical sciences and I am finding that people have very different expectations of what a post-doc's priorities should be. Typically people are somewhere between two camps. I ...
31
votes
5answers
2k views

How to overcome preconceived ideas about social scientists?

I have the opposite problem to this question. Often when I talk to someone from a 'hard' scientific field I am 'taught' how statistics work or how programming works. It is a bit like being mansplained ...
30
votes
5answers
6k views

Does one invite adviser / cohort / lab to one's wedding?

For a PhD student getting married in the middle of the degree, is there an established etiquette for invited your peers and/or your adviser to the wedding? Obviously, circumstances of the wedding ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

How should I respond to someone's research “elevator pitch”?

I am starting my PhD in cosmology in October of this year. I have already met some of the older PhD students and postdocs in the department where I will be studying, and I am going to be attending two ...
27
votes
4answers
1k views

What skills are needed to sustain a research group?

As a young academic, I am struggling to set up a research group that produces papers or proposals on a regular and sustainable basis. I had my share of PhD students, but nothing structured in a proper ...
25
votes
4answers
2k views

How can a PhD student enlarge his academic collaboration network?

I am a new doctoral candidate of information and computer science and about to initiate my research, and typically collaborate with my supervisor and other group members. But seldom will a researcher ...
22
votes
5answers
13k views

Is it unethical to take a photograph of my question sheets from a sit-down exam I've just finished if I am not allowed to take them home?

Last semester I've retaken a course and went through the exam. It was a sit-down exam and all students were present. All students are required put their possessions (phones, cameras, etc.) in their ...
22
votes
2answers
5k views

What kind of help can I request from a terminally ill professor?

I am a student in Mathematics. There is a field I'm interested in (possibly enough to make it my main research area) which is not studied in my city. I've read a lecture notes on this topic a few ...
21
votes
6answers
5k views

Social etiquette for interacting with PhD peers who complain *a lot*

People in my program complain a lot and usually not in good humor. How can I handle this socially and professionally? Some of these people are my friends and some are no more than peers. In general ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Developing meta-cognitive and emotional skills during PhD?

I am convinced that I possess sufficient "cognitive skills" to succeed doing my PhD. Reflection on myself, however, confronts me with the fact that my "meta-cognitive" (time management, mental ...
19
votes
5answers
9k views

Why do PhD students complain so much? [closed]

This question has two parts. First, a comparative question. Second, a broad question about why PhD students get so stressed and complain so much. Do PhD students complain more than people in other ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Asking faculty up for tenure about the tenure decision

If I know a faculty member is up for tenure this year, is it appropriate to ask them for news about the tenure decision? If yes, are there norms around how to ask? I'm a grad student and still ...
17
votes
6answers
4k views

If a PhD student is bad in interpersonal communications, would he find trouble doing his PhD?

As far as I know, some research involves group-work. If a PhD student is either introverted, bad at interpersonal communications or both. What difficulties might they encounter?
17
votes
2answers
4k views

How to introduce myself briefly in a get together for new faculty members?

For the new faculty orientation, there is a get together where they will ask every new faculty member of all departments to say a few words about him/her self. What are the best practices regarding ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

How can I improve my attention and make fewer mistakes?

Throughout my life, I have always had some issues with what I, my peers and my teachers referred to colloquially as "paying attention". By this I mean a very specific ability to not make mistakes. ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

How should a teacher approach a student with distractingly strong perfume?

How might a professor approach a student who comes to class and/or office hours wearing perfume or cologne that is distractingly or overwhelmingly powerful? Certainly, different people have different ...
15
votes
8answers
7k views

Is being socially reclusive okay for a graduate student? [closed]

I am Ph.D student in computer science and mathematics. I have published a few research papers and working on some papers. I am an after mid-stage student and I spend almost 90 percent of my time in my ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How do I help minimize interruptions during group meetings as a student?

The project I work on has numerous members -- several graduate students, a couple of postdocs, and my advisor. We meet every other week to discuss progress and update one another on our status. Almost ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

How to politely encourage academic integrity in non-academics?

To give context for the question I have volunteered to do some work for a local charity. The work they do is literally lifesaving and almost certainly something the government should be responsible ...
13
votes
3answers
833 views

Advice for early grad student: how to professionally present tentative research idea(s) before one has chosen a topic

I'm a 2nd-year grad student in a US PhD program in one of the social sciences. Coursework has forced me throw out the initial ideas I had about research, which I proposed in my application nearly two ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the weight on the applicant's personality for tenure?

Assume that someone is an excellent researcher (many awards and at least 7-8 publications a year) and a very good teacher but he is not "liked" by some of the tenured faculty in the department (due to ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

How can I tell if I'm making enough progress when working remotely?

I am starting a PhD abroad, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic I cannot leave my country at the moment. My advisor has agreed that I can work remotely (starting later is not an option). While we can ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Which soft skills for research career?

In a previous question we stated that soft skills are pretty important for admission decisions in universities, so I suppose that you'll agree with me if I said that they are very important not only ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

What if you love your field but can't take the heat of academia?

Imagine "a person" who may or may not be brilliant in her field, but certainly has new things to contribute, some of them (in her opinion) fascinating. Imagine she adores her field, relates to it ...
11
votes
5answers
441 views

Emphasizing previous sales skill in finance PhD application?

It seems a rather odd thing to emphasize, but I thought my past experience as a broker could be turned into a positive rather than a moot point. Do PhD admissions committees take into account soft ...
10
votes
1answer
606 views

Meeting like-minded people for forming collaborative research relationships [duplicate]

I'm quite new at doing full-time research as a career. It seems that everyone in my department whom I talk with is focused not only on "their" research but also on various side projects with other ...
10
votes
5answers
579 views

How to overcome my resistance to lecturing?

I am in a situation where I have several adult students for an all-day career training program that runs for about a year. So, they and I sit in the classroom most of a normal work-week. I decide when ...
10
votes
3answers
963 views

How to alleviate “back to school” anxiety as a graduate student?

I find myself experiencing back to school anxiety as a new semesters begins in less than three weeks, mainly because the unpredictability associated with graduate life. In some ways it feels less ...
8
votes
3answers
876 views

Does the talk count as invited if my PI invited me?

I'm a just-graduated undergraduate in Biology/Bioinformatics. In a month or so, I'll get to give a short (10-minute) talk at a major conference during one of a handful (5?) 50-minute workshops (I'm ...
8
votes
1answer
486 views

How can I tactfully decline my supervisor's suggestion and set boundaries?

New here. So I just started my postdoc about a month ago (great time to start a postdoc during a pandemic I know). Learning the ropes and trying to kinda set my own path in the lab has been ...
8
votes
2answers
482 views

Co-authors either dismiss my ideas or don't understand them… and then dismiss them anyway

I'm a PhD student in computer science. I'm currently working with 2 co-authors in revising a paper for resubmission (I'm not the main author). They act very respectful and open to criticism, but they ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why don't colleges and departments teach social skills?

After all, to do research with a professor, a student has to have good social skills. So why not have classes that teach social etiquette and social skills? It seems that many courses in college are "...