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576
votes
12answers
69k views

How should I deal with becoming discouraged as a graduate student?

I am a third year (starting fourth year in the fall) PhD student in mathematics. I've passed all qualifying exams and am currently doing research. As far as I can tell, I am not doing poorly. I have ...
352
votes
14answers
32k views

How to ask dumb questions

I am having trouble asking questions in seminars, conferences, and public talks. As a graduate math student I often fail to keep up with speaker and more mature members of the audience at events like ...
345
votes
17answers
60k views

Upset by male classmates openly comparing female students according to physical appearance

I'm a female student studying computer science (CS). Some of the male CS students have given me a physical ranking compared to other female CS students, and it has me really upset, but I don’t know ...
331
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 ...
292
votes
18answers
34k views

Should I share my horrible software?

After I had published my paper, some people asked me to share the software that I developed. At first, I was very happy that my paper attracted some attention, and I was happy to share not only the ...
263
votes
19answers
31k views

Moral dilemma in unwittingly being paid to complete a student's work

I am a computer science freelancer who takes on medium-sized projects I can complete in a month or less. I was approached by someone who wanted a set of 12 tutorials at least 500 words each about ...
257
votes
9answers
34k views

“I've somehow convinced everyone that I'm actually good at this” - how to effectively deal with Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon wherein an individual is convinced that they do not deserve the success that they have achieved despite (perhaps extensive) empirical evidence to the ...
254
votes
20answers
27k views

How to avoid procrastination during the research phase of my PhD?

I just finished all of my coursework for my PhD program, and am entering the research phase of my degree with a topic already in mind. I've already started the research, but I'm already finding that ...
249
votes
8answers
21k views

A paper I received to review has (independently) duplicated work that we are writing up. How to proceed in light of peer-review confidentiality?

I did some research with some collaborators, and we have been writing an article ("paper A") describing the work. A few days ago I received a request to review an article ("paper B") that covers most ...
234
votes
4answers
37k views

Sex worker student offering her (lawful) services

One of my students is an escort/stripper and she has offered me (and other faculty in my department) her "services". I am pretty sure my initial reaction of "thanks for letting me know, now can you ...
234
votes
14answers
40k views

Why do American colleges and universities have sports teams?

In the USA, college sports are popular, and colleges may offer scholarship based on athletic skills. Yet, universities spend significant money on sports, and nobody earns as well as the head of the ...
230
votes
8answers
18k views

How to read papers without falling into a rabbit hole?

Often while reading a paper, I will see a citation that that seems more relevant than my current one. I'll switch to the new paper, only to experience a similar feeling. Or maybe I need to look ...
217
votes
13answers
74k views

Female students coming to office hours in overly revealing clothing

[because this is potentially relevant, I'm a 37 y/o male] Being the end of the semester, I've had a bunch of students come to my office hours to ask questions about things I'm responsible for. Among ...
216
votes
21answers
22k views

Failing students when it might cause them economic ruin

The issue has crept up on me slowly over the last several years. I am increasingly aware of the massive debt that many of my students are taking on, debt which is far beyond the sort of debt that I ...
216
votes
7answers
24k views

A published paper stole my unpublished results from a science fair

I'm in junior high, and earlier this year, we had a science fair. My science project was mostly experimental pure math, and came in first overall in our grade. Today, I was doing some research on a ...
213
votes
13answers
44k views

How to avoid being falsely accused of harassment by a student?

I am a junior faculty member and as part of my work I have to supervise students. I am required by the University to have one-on-one meetings with them every week to check their progress and give ...
210
votes
11answers
44k 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 ...
209
votes
9answers
32k views

Professor creates assignment making students advocate for a bill being presented to Congress. Is this legal?

I attend a public university in Kentucky (USA). My professor has assigned an advocacy assignment that requires students to write three letters of support for a certain House bill that will soon be ...
208
votes
22answers
34k views

What to do when your student is convinced that he will be the next Einstein?

As an adviser, I have found it to be a detrimental motive for a student to focus solely on surpassing Einstein in achievement, for many reasons. One student in particular has busied himself with the ...
199
votes
14answers
53k views

I believe I have solved a famous open problem. How do I convince people in the field that I am not a crank?

I am interested in the situation where you have a very interesting result. For instance, you have solved a very important open problem. However, you are not known in the field and do not have any ...
199
votes
14answers
33k views

Writing a recommendation letter for a student I reported for academic dishonesty

A few years ago, I reported a student for academic dishonesty (in a graduate-level mathematics course, they were copying solutions off the internet, nearly verbatim). After acknowledging their wrong-...
198
votes
4answers
37k views

University rank/stature - How much does it affect one's career post-Ph.D?

What I'm trying to understand is, to what degree does the status/rank of the University (where one completes his/her Ph.D) matter while shaping his/her career after graduation? I would like to know ...
193
votes
9answers
23k views

Why would an academic write a textbook for free?

Recently, I became aware of a Java programming textbook Introduction to Programming Using Java, Seventh Edition which is to my surprise, free as in: The most recent version of this book is always ...
190
votes
11answers
23k views

Postdoc overwhelmed by incomplete work

I take on more than I can handle and everything is left incomplete. Constant reminders from my previous supervisor, my current advisor, and colleagues, increases my anxiety level and sometimes I end ...
189
votes
18answers
46k views

What to do with a student coming to class in revealing clothing, to the degree that it disrupts the teaching environment?

Since semester started, a female student has been attending classes scantily clad or wearing clothes that are too revealing, like a sport bra without shirt on top, booty shorts, semitransparent silk ...
186
votes
12answers
42k views

Can I add a baby as a co-author of a scientific paper, to protest against co-authors who haven't made any contribution?

Can I put the name of my baby as one of the co-authors of a scientific paper? I know it sounds disturbing, but it's a way of mine to protest against co-authors that haven't made any contribution (...
185
votes
15answers
35k views

May a man attend a workshop entitled “Young women in [domain]”?

The Max Planck Institute for Mathematics at the University of Bonn hosts workshops such as 'Young Women in Harmonic Analysis', 'Young Women in Geometry' and 'Young Women in Mathematical Physics' ...
185
votes
15answers
27k views

How to deal with an advisor who wants a “friendlier” relationship with me than I do?

I work as an assistant at a university in Australia. I joined the team consisting of my current advisor and his two PhD students. The other group members are men and they have a co-worker-like ...
185
votes
8answers
12k views

How can I recover professionally from being a crank?

Three years ago I got kicked out of graduate school in physics. I was suffering from mental illness, which led me to believe I made a huge discovery in physics. But my advisor kept saying that what I ...
181
votes
15answers
32k views

How can I convince graduate students in China to not copy/paste from the Internet into their research papers?

I'm posting from an anonymous account, for reasons that will be obvious. I'm an associate professor in China at one of the top 10 universities in China, and have been working in China for a number of ...
180
votes
11answers
27k views

How to deal with a student who most likely has a mental condition, and keeps arguing with me in class?

I am a TA for an introductory computer programming course at a university in the US. There is one student in particular who, during lecture, will argue with me about every point I make, which eats up ...
180
votes
15answers
21k views

How to stop hopping the learning chain and actually begin somewhere?

Here is what I feel whenever I find something interesting and feel like pursuing it : Oh so I like X (Computer Graphics), let me read up papers/books about it. Ok let me begin with reading up Y (...
180
votes
6answers
17k views

Is it possible to recover after a career setback such as this?

I'm sorry, I'm not a mathematician--I'm the wife of a very frustrated and depressed mathematician. My husband got a math PhD in 2009, and could not get a research post-doc in his chosen field. We ...
171
votes
7answers
41k views

Is it acceptable to publish student names with the label 'stupid question', on a publicly-visible website?

While I was browsing faculty websites, I came across this page (new link: http://www.pdmi.ras.ru/~iaroslav/teaching.php?screen_check=done&Width=360&Height=640). Near the bottom there is a ...
170
votes
13answers
28k views

Religious supervisor wants to thank god in the acknowledgements

My PhD supervisor and I are co-authoring a paper. We have an excellent relation, and he is both a well-regarded scientist in its field and a deeply religious person. In our co-authored paper, he wants ...
168
votes
13answers
34k views

Quoting a typo: Do I really have to do “sic”, or can I just fix the sentence?

I've got an upcoming work in which I quote a couple sentences from a scholar's book. There's an unambiguous typo in it; the author just switched a few words around. Do I really have to quote him ...
168
votes
9answers
69k views

I realize I made a huge mistake in my thesis and am not sure what to do. I'm defending very soon (days away). What should I do?

I realize there is a somewhat similar question posted, but my question is different in that I found a pretty big mistake in my thesis. It's such a big problem, it changes my results. I almost wish I ...
165
votes
13answers
36k views

Grades are too high for the department - what should I do?

I recently taught an undergraduate seminar course, in which each student has to read a research paper, summarize it and present it to the class. In the first lesson I explained to the students the ...
165
votes
8answers
33k views

Grant fraud, should I bust my PhD advisor?

tl;dr: Should I report this large grant fraud, and what consequences could it have for me? For obvious reasons, I will try to maintain some anonymity here. So I defended my thesis. Which was funded ...
165
votes
11answers
27k views

My research paper filed as a patent in China by my Chinese supervisor without me as inventor

I completed my PhD 3 years ago from a university in the UK. Today I was looking for some papers in google scholar. I found a patent in China. The patent was written in Chinese however, all diagrams/...
164
votes
8answers
11k views

Why don't researchers publish failed experiments?

The following might be a slight generalization for all fields but something I've noticed especially in the field of Scientific Computing: Why don't people publish failures? I mean, if they tried some ...
162
votes
13answers
15k views

Do I have the legal right to demand information on plagiarism of my work from another university?

A student of a German institute has translated my Russian thesis word by word to English and submitted it as her own work in 2014. I informed the university providing them with my work in Russian and ...
159
votes
10answers
38k views

In a formal paper, should I censor “brainf**k”, the name of a programming language?

I'm working on a formal paper about programming languages. I am going to talk about two intentionally difficult languages, brainfuck and JSFuck. Should I leave the names as they are, or censor the ...
159
votes
20answers
28k views

How do you judge the quality of a journal?

A colleague and I recently submitted a paper to a journal with an impressive-sounding name, the "International Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Computational Research". According to their ...
157
votes
21answers
24k views

How do you come to terms with the fact that you might never be among the best in your research community?

I am currently a PhD student advised by a new (and awesome, in my opinion) theoretical computer scientist in the field of optimization. This was my dream ever since I took a class on convex ...
156
votes
12answers
20k views

Why are papers without code but with results accepted?

I just started reading some papers (Computer Science, specifically Computer Vision) and thought "now let's look at the source code" and was quite astonished that most of the papers don't have any ...
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 ...
153
votes
13answers
23k views

How honest should one be with their students when talking about the realities of academia?

January seems to be that time of the year that I ponder this question often. After the grades have come out, I always get a few students with very low grades (D or lower) coming to talk to me, and ...
153
votes
14answers
27k views

Why do many talented scientists write horrible software?

I am a software engineer and I have been working with people with academic backgrounds for several years. Many times, I've noticed that (even otherwise brilliant scientists) produce code of extremely ...
153
votes
8answers
18k views

Why are most scientific articles locked behind a paywall?

Can someone give me a legitimate, convincing argument as to why scientific papers should be locked behind subscriptions and paywalls? That unless you happen to be on a campus, you can't get view a ...

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