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635 votes
14 answers

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 ...
Aru Ray's user avatar
  • 20.8k
398 votes
14 answers

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 ...
Vlad's user avatar
  • 3,201
356 votes
17 answers

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 ...
UhHuhOkSure's user avatar
  • 2,309
339 votes
12 answers

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 ...
Wetlab Walter's user avatar
318 votes
18 answers

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 ...
sean's user avatar
  • 17.6k
280 votes
9 answers

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 ...
Aru Ray's user avatar
  • 20.8k
271 votes
20 answers

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 ...
Paul's user avatar
  • 11.5k
267 votes
19 answers

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 ...
anonymous_display's user avatar
267 votes
8 answers

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 ...
Senex's user avatar
  • 3,754
254 votes
8 answers

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 ...
charlespwd's user avatar
  • 2,643
252 votes
8 answers

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 ...
jds's user avatar
  • 4,436
247 votes
14 answers

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 ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 42.9k
239 votes
4 answers

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 ...
StrongBad's user avatar
  • 104k
237 votes
6 answers

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 ...
Nico A's user avatar
  • 2,182
229 votes
15 answers

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 ...
Learning's user avatar
  • 2,391
228 votes
21 answers

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 ...
John Coleman's user avatar
  • 4,148
224 votes
13 answers

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 ...
Koldito's user avatar
  • 9,036
220 votes
13 answers

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 ...
electrique's user avatar
  • 7,544
220 votes
5 answers

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 ...
TCSGrad's user avatar
  • 9,641
218 votes
11 answers

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 ...
horsestaplebattery's user avatar
216 votes
9 answers

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 ...
kbc's user avatar
  • 1,363
214 votes
9 answers

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 ...
user128572's user avatar
  • 1,213
213 votes
22 answers

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 ...
Advisor6's user avatar
  • 1,777
213 votes
14 answers

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-...
Anonymous_professor's user avatar
207 votes
4 answers

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 ...
F'x's user avatar
  • 73.5k
200 votes
11 answers

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 ...
SpatialP's user avatar
  • 1,311
196 votes
13 answers

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 (...
teter's user avatar
  • 1,661
195 votes
9 answers

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 ...
I Like to Code's user avatar
193 votes
15 answers

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 ...
justme's user avatar
  • 1,661
193 votes
15 answers

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 (...
Amit Tomar's user avatar
  • 1,869
192 votes
11 answers

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 ...
homersimpson's user avatar
  • 1,701
191 votes
15 answers

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' ...
Jason Born's user avatar
  • 2,345
191 votes
18 answers

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 ...
user avatar
190 votes
15 answers

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 ...
AssociateProfessorInChina's user avatar
186 votes
13 answers

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 ...
Erel Segal-Halevi's user avatar
186 votes
1 answer

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 ...
185 votes
6 answers

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

My husband got a math PhD in 2009, and could not get a research post-doc in his chosen field. We had young children at that point, and he spent two years as a lecturer, applied for hundreds of jobs, ...
guestwife's user avatar
  • 1,751
176 votes
21 answers

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 ...
user avatar
176 votes
11 answers

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/...
PRO88's user avatar
  • 989
175 votes
14 answers

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 ...
Thanatos's user avatar
  • 1,931
175 votes
12 answers

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 ...
Sam Stoelinga's user avatar
172 votes
13 answers

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 ...
TAM's user avatar
  • 1,508
171 votes
7 answers

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: Near the bottom there is a ...
SomeOne's user avatar
  • 1,247
170 votes
18 answers

What does authorship ordering 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, ...
170 votes
10 answers

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 ...
Gellen's user avatar
  • 1,451
170 votes
13 answers

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 ...
user avatar
167 votes
7 answers

My paper is being cited in vaccine misinformation. What do I do?

I have recently discovered that anti-vaxxers have been citing one of my papers on Twitter and elsewhere as evidence of a specific 5G-related conspiracy theory surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Of ...
Icyfire's user avatar
  • 1,029
166 votes
8 answers

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 ...
ranting PhD student's user avatar
166 votes
13 answers

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 ...
Need legal advise's user avatar
164 votes
8 answers

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 ...
user avatar

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