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151
votes
15answers
31k views

How to deal with failing a student?

I supervise a student who is working on her bachelor's thesis. The problem is that she has not delivered anything, never asks for any help, and when I offer her some help she claims that she ...
151
votes
14answers
25k 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 ...
151
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 ...
151
votes
4answers
30k views

Is Obama's JAMA paper OK?

As some of you may have heard, Barack Obama recently published a paper in JAMA describing the US health care reforms (link). First of all, I am not trying to start a discussion on the validity of the ...
150
votes
14answers
22k views

Teaching a class likely meant to inflate the GPA of student athletes

Premise My department recently finalized the faculty teaching assignments for the Fall 2019 semester (starts at the end of August 2019). As these assignments were being discussed a few weeks ago, my ...
148
votes
13answers
25k views

Appropriateness of dedicating my thesis to a Jewish mathematician who died in a concentration camp

I am a Muslim student in a non-Arab country. Would it be unwanted/inappropriate for me to dedicate my thesis on Tauber theory to Alfred Tauber, and more generally to all those Jewish mathematicians ...
147
votes
12answers
42k views

Our teacher is encouraging us to use cracked software

I'm taking a course named Numerical and Computational Methods Based on Mathematica (Or in Chinese: "基于Mathematica的数值计算方法"), but Wolfram Mathematica is a bit expensive for me to afford. On the first ...
146
votes
16answers
52k views

What does first authorship really mean?

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, at least ...
145
votes
11answers
33k views

I am uncomfortable about students taking pictures of the blackboard, because I don't like appearing in them

It seems to be the trend that fewer and fewer students take notes in class. Lately, and particularly this semester, for some reason, I have been noticing that several students take pictures of the ...
143
votes
22answers
71k views

A student in my course does well on exams, but doesn't do the homework: Go easy on them, or make them “pay the price?”

I have a student in my course that does well on the exams, and his answers to the exam questions show a deep understanding of the material. However, this student has not been handing in the assigned ...
142
votes
13answers
19k views

Is declining an undergraduate award which causes me discomfort appropriate?

I have been offered an award to be presented to me at my graduation this summer at an English university. The award is not for academic achievement per se. It's for gaining my science degree despite ...
141
votes
17answers
21k views

Is it appropriate for a professor to require students to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being taught?

There's a professor at my school that claims to be writing a book. He is requiring students to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before certain lectures because he wants to maintain certain ideas ...
141
votes
12answers
50k views

How to deal with a very weak student?

I am teaching an honors class for seniors (at a very good university, top 5 in my field). Most students are fantastic. They are very interested, they often surprise me with insights in class, and the ...
140
votes
14answers
22k views

Should I intervene when a colleague in a different department makes students run laps as part of their grade?

Basic Premise Can a microbiology professor require students to run laps on the track during class for a grade, even if the class usually has no physical component to it? Background As part of my ...
140
votes
9answers
25k views

Will ISIS attacks hurt my PhD application as a Muslim?

I'm a dedicated person, very passionate about physics and pursuing my PhD at a good school is crucial to my life. I've been preparing my application documents for a while now. GPA is almost 4 and ...
140
votes
4answers
43k 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 ...
139
votes
6answers
19k views

My professor is rigging data and plagiarizing. What can I do?

My department head is manipulating data in his research papers and skillfully alters plagiarized text to avoid detection. I found this out while working with him on a journal article. I politely ...
139
votes
11answers
14k views

Is it ethical to submit a paper with the name of a co-author who cannot be contacted?

The paper in question is based on research my collaborator X and I did together some months ago. Our respective contributions to the research were around 2/3 for X and 1/3 for me. In terms of the ...
139
votes
3answers
14k views

What to do if a referee plagiarises the result after rejecting a paper?

I find myself in an awkward situation. Nearly two years ago I submitted a paper to a reputable mathematics journal. After 15 months it was rejected with the rationale that there had been papers ...
138
votes
1answer
61k views

What does the typical workflow of a journal look like?

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 ...
137
votes
22answers
34k views

Should I simply ignore it if authors assume that I'm male in their response to my review of their article?

I received a response about a manuscript I reviewed earlier, and the authors write about the reviewer (i.e., me) and his concerns. As a woman, I'm not so keen on this. Obviously this isn't ...
137
votes
18answers
25k views

Why do most people think it's a bad idea to read from slides?

As many of you probably know, almost all advice regarding doing better academic talks includes universal advice to not put too many words in any one slide, and to not read straight from slides (this ...
137
votes
7answers
102k 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 ...
136
votes
10answers
40k 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 ...
133
votes
14answers
28k views

How do I handle a colleague's gender change when citing their paper?

We are currently working on a conference paper where we plan to cite and discuss a paper as a related work. It was written by a colleague at the same university who has kindly offered to help us ...
133
votes
14answers
20k views

Is there a place in academia for someone who compulsively solves every problem on their own?

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I'm still in grad school. I've been researching under one professor's wing for two years now, ostensibly shooting for a PhD (note: no topic yet), and I have ...
133
votes
10answers
12k views

Best-practice models for “research” code?

I have been a professional software developer for a number of years, I'm also an academic researcher - and my research has involved lots of software development. I sometimes feel as though my ...
132
votes
15answers
22k views

Two years into my PhD program, and Mom is dying of cancer. Should I tell my advisor about it?

I just finished my 2nd year of PhD, and my mom has been dying of cancer since the end of my 1st year. She nearly died in January but thankfully pulled through. She was just diagnosed again a few weeks ...
131
votes
14answers
29k views

How to build healthy working relationships with my male colleagues as a young-ish, attractive-ish woman?

I'm a PhD candidate from Asia currently visiting a prestigious university in Europe. Recently I've noticed quite some "strange" behaviours of male "colleagues" around me (by "colleagues", I don't mean ...
131
votes
11answers
21k views

Reporting a student who may be psychologically disturbed

Yesterday, a colleague from my school's history department brought me a student's final project from her history class. The assigned project was to produce a "creative" project dealing with a ...
131
votes
13answers
13k views

Why is my mood dictated so much by how well my research is going?

I'm a senior PhD student at an American university. I have found over the course of my degree that my mood has largely been influenced by how well my research is going. If I make a small break-through ...
130
votes
15answers
22k views

Is it ethical to profit by having my students buy my textbook?

This question was suggested to me by How can I sell my text book to my students in e-book format? which asked about the practicalities, but attracted many comments about the ethics. So this question ...
129
votes
12answers
37k views

Can leaked nude pictures damage one's academic career?

I have an ex who has posted nude photos of me online in the past, linked to my online social media, and posted my full name and where I live. I am concerned he may do so again once he finds out I'm ...
128
votes
18answers
31k views

Useful strategies for answering “dumb” questions in a talk?

It has often been said that there is no such thing as a dumb question. And yet - perhaps due only to inattention, lack of sleep, or hunger - otherwise brilliant people sometimes manage to ask some ...
128
votes
10answers
31k 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 ...
128
votes
11answers
71k views

Does one need to be affiliated with a university to publish papers?

Assume you have already completed your undergrad and have been working for a number of years. Does one need to be part of a university or a learning institution to publish papers?
127
votes
14answers
27k views

My student's family won't let her study what she wants

Yesterday I had a tearful encounter in office hours with the most avid participant in the math class I teach, in which she related the following situation. She is an international student whose ...
126
votes
22answers
9k views

Should the slides in a presentation be self-explanatory or be as minimal as possible?

When you do a research presentation, what is usually the focus that you take. Some professors tell me to make the slides as self explanatory as possible, and I quote: Someone should be able to ...
126
votes
11answers
29k views

Why are professors' websites so ugly?

I can't help but notice that even in CS, professors' websites are almost always difficult to navigate, poorly-organized, and just generally hard to look at (poorly-tiled backgrounds, inconsistent ...
126
votes
3answers
68k views

How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in the US, particularly for weak or borderline students?

When applying to a PhD program in the US, how does the admissions process work? If an applicant is weak in a particular area, is it possible to offset that by being strong in a different area? Note ...
125
votes
18answers
42k views

What's the point of PhD theses if nobody reads them?

At best, the PhD thesis is read by: The author The examiners The supervisor The author's parents The author's roommate / spouse / fellow students in research group Or less than 10 people in total. ...
125
votes
13answers
22k views

Should professors intervene if a student is wearing offensive clothing in their classroom?

A question about university dress codes reminded me of an incident that happened when I was an undergrad, in which a classmate came to school wearing a really offensive and misogynistic t-shirt. I ...
124
votes
12answers
35k views

I am an editor for a lousy paper and I found a better algorithm than theirs. Must I share it with them?

I am handling a paper as an associate editor that proposed an algorithm that I find to be weak. In fact, I was able to show that a very simple, brute-force approach actually has a better running time ...
124
votes
4answers
10k views

How hard do early-career academics in the United States work, really?

I'm finishing a PhD in Sweden this year and seeking a post-doc in the United States (atmospheric remote sensing). It is clear that a job in academia is not a nine to five job; nor do I want it to be. ...
123
votes
11answers
21k views

Should I have doubts if the organizers of a workshop ask me to sign a behavior agreement upfront?

Recently, I applied to attend a workshop of 14 days. I came to know about this workshop from colleague of mine. After a few days, I received an email saying I got accepted, along with that, some ...
123
votes
16answers
29k views

What to do about “grade grubbers?”

An annoying aspect of working with a "strict" grading system (e.g., 90%+ = A, 85% = A-, 80% = B+, etc.) is what I call the "grade grubbing" phenomenon: the people who feel compelled to raise ...
122
votes
12answers
18k views

Is publishing runnable code instead of pseudo code shunned?

In Computer Science is it preferable to describe algorithms using pseudo code rather than real code? If so, why? I've talked to a few academics who think so but I can't understand why. Some of the ...
122
votes
17answers
120k views

Is it okay to report classmates cheating on exams?

Is it acceptable or ok to report on students cheating? Many times during a test or an exam, I have seen students in front of me either passing notes, or otherwise collaborating whenever the professor ...
122
votes
13answers
31k views

Is it ethical/acceptable to give a lighter penalty to students who admit to cheating?

I am at the moment dealing with an academic dishonesty incident in a class I'm teaching (a few groups of students submitting identical code, when the class policy forbids getting help from another ...
121
votes
26answers
92k views

Slept through final, professor is giving me a zero and failing me – is there anything I can do to change this?

I slept through my 8 am final last Thursday, and I didn’t wake up until 11:50 am. By the time I scrambled to remember what day it was, it was already noon. I frantically sent the professor an email ...

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