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610 votes
13 answers
80k 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 ...
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  • 19.8k
380 votes
14 answers
36k 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 ...
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  • 3,011
349 votes
17 answers
64k 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 ...
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  • 2,221
334 votes
12 answers
55k 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 ...
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309 votes
18 answers
37k 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 ...
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  • 17.2k
271 votes
9 answers
40k views

How to effectively deal with Imposter Syndrome and feelings of inadequacy: "I've somehow convinced everyone that I'm actually good at this"

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 ...
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  • 19.8k
267 votes
20 answers
32k 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 ...
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  • 11.2k
266 votes
19 answers
34k 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 ...
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259 votes
8 answers
23k 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 ...
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  • 3,644
242 votes
14 answers
44k 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 ...
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  • 40.6k
239 votes
8 answers
20k 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 ...
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  • 4,268
238 votes
4 answers
41k 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 ...
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  • 103k
232 votes
6 answers
27k 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 ...
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  • 2,122
224 votes
21 answers
25k 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 ...
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  • 4,098
222 votes
13 answers
78k 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 ...
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  • 8,898
217 votes
15 answers
60k 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 ...
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  • 2,263
217 votes
11 answers
46k 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 ...
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214 votes
13 answers
47k 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 ...
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  • 7,404
214 votes
9 answers
34k 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 ...
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  • 1,333
212 votes
4 answers
42k 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 ...
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  • 9,451
210 votes
14 answers
38k 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-...
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209 votes
22 answers
37k 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 ...
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  • 1,737
208 votes
8 answers
236k views

How do you cite a Github repository?

I am working on a honours thesis and have developed a Fortran library that I would like to cite in it. In some places they suggest to quote the documentation of the project but this is something I ...
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  • 2,183
207 votes
9 answers
17k 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 ...
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  • 1,143
196 votes
11 answers
25k 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 ...
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  • 1,261
194 votes
9 answers
25k 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 ...
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193 votes
13 answers
44k 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 (...
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  • 1,631
191 votes
18 answers
50k 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 ...
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  • 4,135
191 votes
15 answers
23k 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 (...
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  • 1,859
189 votes
15 answers
30k 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 ...
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  • 1,621
188 votes
15 answers
36k 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' ...
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  • 2,295
188 votes
11 answers
30k 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 ...
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  • 1,661
185 votes
15 answers
35k 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 ...
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184 votes
6 answers
19k 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 ...
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  • 1,741
173 votes
13 answers
41k 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 ...
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173 votes
11 answers
28k 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/...
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  • 901
173 votes
1 answer
90k views

What does the typical workflow of a journal look like? How should I interpret a particular submission status?

What steps does a manuscript typically go through from submission to publication (or rejection) in a typical journal? How are these steps referred to, in particular by editorial systems, and how long ...
172 votes
13 answers
42k 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 ...
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  • 1,498
172 votes
13 answers
30k 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 ...
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  • 4,135
171 votes
7 answers
43k 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 ...
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  • 1,245
171 votes
10 answers
92k 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 ...
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  • 1,451
168 votes
4 answers
74k views

Rediscovery of calculus in 1994: what should have happened to that paper?

There's a well-known paper in academic circles that features a rediscovery of the trapezoidal rule for numerical integration by a medical researcher: “A Mathematical Model for the Determination of ...
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  • 71.3k
167 votes
21 answers
26k 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 ...
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167 votes
8 answers
34k 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 ...
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167 votes
13 answers
16k 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 ...
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167 votes
14 answers
32k 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 ...
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  • 1,851
167 votes
12 answers
25k 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 ...
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165 votes
8 answers
13k 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 ...
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161 votes
18 answers
59k views

What does first authorship really mean in field X?

In my field (theoretical computer science), authors of any paper are always listed alphabetically; our papers don't have "first authors". (Well... hardly ever.) In most other disciplines, ...
161 votes
10 answers
39k 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 ...
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