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94
votes
11answers
20k views

Why is peer review so random?

8 Scientific Papers That Were Rejected Before Going on to Win a Nobel Prize Funding Analysis: Researchers Say NIH Grant Funding Allocation Seems No Better Than Lottery The same paper resubmitted to ...
94
votes
11answers
24k views

What to say to a student who has failed?

A student has failed a course I just taught. Grades were announced yesterday. This student sent me a very long heartbreaking email about how this means she will be kicked out of her program, how she ...
94
votes
9answers
11k views

Walk up and talk to random people at academic conferences - is that appropriate?

As a graduate student, I am relatively new to my community. From my point of view, the best approach to get to know new people is randomly walking around and start conversations (with anyone, no ...
94
votes
8answers
14k views

How do I talk about my abusive former advisor if people ask?

I was just at a conference where I met another grad student who - upon learning about my specialization and university affiliation - excitedly asked me if I knew Dr. -- and if he was my advisor (she's ...
94
votes
8answers
18k views

Where do bad papers go to die?

After a paper is rejected several times by several journals it begins to become clear that the research was off the mark no matter how much editing, fixing, and revisions are done. Therefore, What do ...
93
votes
15answers
42k views

Should I report a PhD student’s incompetence to their supervisor?

I had a short exchange of mails with a PhD student who wished to ask some questions about a paper of mine, which was troublesome in many respects: The student had a blatant lack of basic knowledge ...
93
votes
13answers
14k views

Is it OK to refuse to cite paywalled papers?

I wonder how reviewers would react if authors of a submitted paper refuse to cite paywalled papers. Is it a valid reason to refuse citing some papers? I am mostly interested in the field of computer ...
93
votes
11answers
38k views

“You are paid to answer my questions!” - how to handle silly questions?

How do I handle silly questions? By silly, I mean questions that are unrelated to the material of the course. First, I am a TA. Recently, a student asked me a very silly question at the end of a lab ...
93
votes
10answers
24k views

What makes academic failure different from failure in another career?

It is my understanding that academia as a nebulous whole has its own culture and speaks its own language that makes it a very different environment to work in compared to other so-called "industry" ...
93
votes
8answers
18k views

When should a supervisor be an author?

I understand that in a lot of big-lab fields it is common for the principal investigator to append their name to a paper even if they did not write the paper, design the experiment, or collect data ...
93
votes
9answers
33k views

I want to do research but I'm too old for a PHD

I really love research. I started a research project in graduate school for my M.A. in English. My research topic is a very viable and interesting topic for a dissertation. I'll be 60 on my next ...
93
votes
9answers
14k views

PhD student, issued contract at year 3 which will sign over intellectual property. Is it legal?

I'm EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, the biggest UK funding source in the sciences and engineering) funded. Several months into my PhD an industrial sponsor came along. In ...
93
votes
13answers
22k views

Techniques for good board handwriting

I'm a math TA and I find that my most consistent comment for improvement involved my board handwriting. Anybody have some tips or techniques I can use to make things a little neater on the board? ...
93
votes
9answers
43k views

Is there an affordable way for non-students to subscribe to multi-journals/archives?

As a student I had free access to thousands of scholarly articles through my universities in databases/archives such as JSTOR, EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, Econlit, PubMed, etc, etc. With no ...
93
votes
8answers
8k views

Is web-presence important for researchers?

How important is web-presence to researchers? How does its importance vary by fields? (My interest is STEM, theory in particular) I noticed that there is a pretty large variation in amount of web-...
93
votes
10answers
11k views

Donating money to scientific research after my death

I'm lucky - I probably won't have to provide for any loved ones after I die (they can take care of themselves). That means I can use my assets on whatever I want, and most likely, that will be science....
92
votes
16answers
38k views

How to handle lecturer who doesn't let me use my phone?

Inspired by another question where a user asks how to handle students with a phone, my question is from the opposite perspective: what is the correct response when a lecturer asks one to put away the ...
92
votes
9answers
20k views

If I quit my PhD, would it make my advisor look bad?

I am considering quitting my PhD in computer science, because after doing a software engineering internship I realized I enjoy that kind of work much more. My advisor has been very kind to me, on ...
92
votes
12answers
12k views

How can I avoid being “the negative one” when giving feedback on statistics?

Results get sent around a group of biological collaborators for feedback. Comments come back from the senior members of the group about the implications of the results, possible extensions, etc. I ...
92
votes
7answers
13k views

Are college students forbidden from sharing their grades with other students?

I am currently in an anatomy class and had an issue. I and three other students worked on an 18 page packet together. We had the same answers since we worked on it as a group. However, two of us ...
92
votes
6answers
23k views

My supervisor doesn't believe in depression

This is perhaps less a question and more of a cautionary tale, but I've seen a few people asking how best to talk to their supervisor about mental health and I wanted to share my experience with this ...
91
votes
13answers
33k views

How to react to a student proselytising during office hours?

A few weeks ago, a student asked me during my office hours whether I was religious or not. More specifically, he asked whether I believed in his religion, and was visibly disappointed when I replied ...
91
votes
15answers
24k views

What is the justification for the typical punishment of a student who did not cheat but helped others cheat?

Imagine this scenario: you're in an exam. Somebody asks for your help to answer a question. You help them (whisper the answer, slip them a note, whatever). You get caught. You get punished. That's ...
91
votes
17answers
255k views

Is it possible to work full time and complete a PhD?

Is it achievable to perform a doctorate while working in a private company (not in college) full time (8 hours per day, 5 days per week)? Or is it too much work or stress?
91
votes
18answers
22k views

How to quiet noisy undergrads students during lecture

I am teaching a class of about 100 undergraduates. The class meets for a three-hour block every week in a lecture hall which seats about 120. We have about 2-3 breaks every lecture, to give students ...
91
votes
10answers
18k views

What can I do if my advisor wants me to keep working, even while I'm on medical leave for severe depression?

I'm a Master's student right now. Due to previous incidents (What can I do if a student in my lab threatens to tell lies about me, and my advisor doesn't want to fire her?), I'm clinically ...
91
votes
12answers
21k views

Why do professors want to make sure that their notes written on the blackboard will not be published?

I am a university student and have recently found out how much easier it is to use my smart phone to take snapshots of notes professors write on the blackboard during lectures (since I am quite bad at ...
91
votes
7answers
13k views

How to avoid a hostile takeover of first authorship during medical leave?

A colleague has approached me with a tough situation. I'm unsure how to advise her. She is a postdoc, and will soon take a month-long planned medical leave. Her adviser, a senior research scientist, ...
91
votes
4answers
15k views

Is it ok to upload joke papers to arXiv?

I have recently stumbled upon this paper on arXiv: Stopping GAN Violence: Generative Unadversarial Networks (mirror), which is a parody/joke paper. Is it ok to upload joke papers to arXiv?
91
votes
7answers
11k views

As a department head, what to do if a professor leaves without giving out grades?

I am department head. An adjunct professor teaching two courses in my department left without notice. He did not deliver the grades to me. We have no staff in that field to give the final exam again. ...
91
votes
4answers
12k views

How to react when a team of colleagues obviously made up some results?

In a recent paper, a team of colleagues published results that are clearly made up. I am 100 % sure of that because my position at the university involves the management of the animals they used in ...
90
votes
15answers
25k views

Why do some instructors care so much about attendance?

It seems that in higher education, some instructors either do not care at all whether students attend, and others care minimally (often resulting in a 1-5% attendance grade or tie-breaker rule). ...
90
votes
13answers
18k views

I have stack-exchanged through my undergrad math program. Am I likely to succeed in mathematics PhD programs?

I'm currently a third-year mathematics student at a top-20 private research university in the US (though mostly known for the humanities). We have a small undergraduate mathematics department, but we ...
90
votes
2answers
9k views

I am non-tenured and have been offered a tenure-track position at my current university, but I don't want to stay here long term. What should I do?

I work at a midwestern university in a very small department in a specialised field in the Humanities. I've been working here as a non-tenure track assistant professor, and have been offered a TT ...
90
votes
4answers
8k views

Strategies for teaching with facial aphasia (inability to recognize faces aka prosopagnosia, face-blindness)

I'm a math grad student in my first year, which means that I have not yet taught a class (in my program first years grade or provide one-on-one tutoring for students who struggle in calculus). I have ...
89
votes
13answers
30k views

A student keeps using a native language while asking questions in the class when the course is taught in English

I am assisting a statistics course in a university, and my main job in the course is conducting problem solving sessions. The course is taught in English, and students interact with me in English. ...
89
votes
17answers
20k views

As a TA, how to react if I come across a Facebook group in which students insult me?

I am a PhD student in Europe and also TA for some bachelor's degree classes for my supervisor. Just by chance, I have found an open Facebook group (normally, the group aims to create an interaction ...
89
votes
11answers
25k views

Where did I lose control of my studies?

I am a 5th MSc semester mathematics student at a local German university. Since fall, I have been working on my thesis, which is the only remaining task for finishing my studies. I had not had ...
89
votes
9answers
12k views

Am I reading enough of the scientific literature? Should I read for breadth or depth?

Ever since starting graduate school I've tried to make scientific reading a part of my daily ritual; I track pages read using Beeminder, and the graph doesn't lie. It keeps me honest. I aim to ...
89
votes
5answers
8k views

Should I explain to the graduate admission committee why I am older than most prospective PhD students?

Firstly, I know that there are plenty of questions here like this one but hopefully this is not a duplicate. I was born and grown up in Iran and belong to a religious minority (Bahai faith). As you ...
88
votes
21answers
34k views

Is 8:00 AM an unreasonable time to meet with my graduate students and post-doc?

I am a recently graduated PhD, but for the past few years I have been on an 8:00-16:30 schedule with a lunch break at noon. I arrive between 7:45-8:00 and get started immediately. Now I am on as a ...
88
votes
9answers
17k views

Referee says the proof is wrong, but it is not, what to do?

About 3 months ago, my co-author and I submitted a mathematical paper to a journal. Yesterday, we got the editor's response and the paper has been rejected. The reason is that the referee thinks that ...
88
votes
15answers
14k views

Why are some professors critical of even casual use of Wikipedia?

Many of the professors and lecturers I come across are very critical of Wikipedia, but they never give proper support for their claims of "Wikipedia is bullshit!". And they threaten "Do not use ...
88
votes
4answers
19k views

How do mathematicians conduct research?

I am curious as to how mathematicians conduct research. I hope some of you can help me solve this little mystery. To me, mathematics is a branch where you either get it or you don't. If you see the ...
88
votes
5answers
8k views

What productive academic work can you do with minimal attention in a small (<30 minutes) block of time?

Ok, here is a major issue I have with much of my work (which is experimental/computational research): I am a graduate student, and spend much of my day doing 5, 10, 20 and 30 minute experiments (both ...
88
votes
7answers
43k views

Use of first person in a PhD Thesis

Is there a non written rule to which person to use in the PhD thesis, 5 years of using "We" in the papers have brought me to the innate necessity to do it every time I describe something. Recently, ...
88
votes
2answers
18k views

What is the origin of the “underwater basket weaving” meme in Academia?

"Underwater basket weaving" is often used as a placeholder for "irrelevant, useless university course." (Despite the fact that it's an actual thing.) More generally, "Basket weaving" and related ...
88
votes
3answers
11k views

Counter strategy against group that repeatedly does strategic self-citations and ignores other relevant research

There is a group in our small field that almost exclusively cites themselves. Their latest paper has 35% self-citations, which is 80% of the citations within the field. They only reference their own ...
88
votes
11answers
10k views

How do teachers learn to grade?

I teach math with about two years of experience now. In general I have found that all the cliches about graduate school teaching you "how to research but not how to teach" are true. But I have also ...
87
votes
12answers
29k views

How should I deal with very negative feedback from some students?

I am a lecturer of a computer course in a university. Two months (almost 20 hours) of lectures have already finished. Very recently, I planned to get some feedback from my students on my lectures. I ...

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