375 votes

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

You don't say where you're going to school but if it's here in the US, I would report the problem to the university and demand they do whatever is necessary to fix it. Title IX requires them to ...
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241 votes
Accepted

Does it violate academic social norm to email someone around midnight?

The good thing (maybe the only good thing) about email is that it's by nature asynchronous. A phone call in the middle of the night is intrusive, because there is an explicit expectation that the ...
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  • 126k
228 votes

If you know a family member who is much more qualified and capable in mathematics than you are, should find another field of specialisation?

Research in math (and I assume in general) is hard. It doesn't get better over time, but rather we seem to get used to the accompanying depression and angst. When I feel down, I try to remind myself ...
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  • 19.8k
177 votes

What good is engineering research with no practical relevance?

The short answer to your question is that you are vastly overestimating your, and other engineer's, ability to judge what techniques will ever have practical relevance. I think it was Michael ...
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  • 126k
171 votes

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

If there is a local Women in Computing or Women in Science and Engineering group you may be able to get face-to-face support and advice. Failing that, I suggest joining Systers. Even if you get ...
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167 votes

Is "flowery language" frowned upon in engineering and STEM related research?

There's nothing wrong with long words. The real issue with your writing is that it is redundant. "these related works are germane to our present discussion." In this sentence, "...
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  • 3,739
163 votes

What is this "can I hire you as a tutor" scam?

This is usually a version of a "babysitting scam", where some generous out-of-town person wants to pay you a royal ransom for some minor errand or babysitting someone you've never met. It goes a few ...
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  • 21k
156 votes

I wasted six years of my life getting a PhD degree. What should I do, and how will I survive?

It looks to me like you did not do so badly as you think. Two publications and 3.7 GPA are not so bad. It might depend on the field, it might not be the best ever, but I have seen much worse. If your ...
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  • 6,886
148 votes
Accepted

Why do academics prefer Mac/Linux?

It's not entirely accurate to state that Windows 'dominates' in the commercial world. While this is generally accurate in Desktop and Laptop computers, keep in mind that the vast majority of web (and ...
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133 votes

I am interested in retracting my old journal articles. Would it have any negative effects on my academic career?

The way to "retract" old work is to publish better work that references the old work and its errors. There should be nothing embarrassing about having found earlier errors and correcting them. You ...
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  • 259k
130 votes

Does academia have a lazy work culture?

Different areas of work look differently. A mechanic, a tailor or a miner perform visible physical operations and deliver an objective and measurable result by hour. Compared with them, office work ...
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123 votes

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

First of all, acknowledge for yourself that what you're going through is 100% not OK, and you have every right to be upset and looking for a fix ASAP. I start saying this because very often, with any ...
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  • 1,380
112 votes

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

I’m not sure what to do. I am friends with some of these men (or so I thought) and have committed to working on software projects with them that I can’t back out of. What do I say? You could try ...
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  • 13.1k
111 votes

As a Head of Department, how can I make my faculty happier?

It might be uncommon, but just ask them. You could use a basic questionaire if you want to do it anonymously, or you could talk to everyone in person. Just showing some activity does not help as ...
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  • 12.9k
105 votes

What makes academic failure different from failure in another career?

Many other careers are not structured around "success" and "failure" in the same way that academia is, and the jobs that are are acknowledged to be high stress. I agree strongly with what Anyon ...
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104 votes

Is it common for people in academia to experience prolonged lack of sleep and how to deal with it?

There are three basic approaches to handling this: Paul Erdos' approach. Pros: it worked for Erdos, after a fashion. Cons: you are not Erdos. Crack, maybe have a psychotic episode, and leave ...
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  • 180k
104 votes

How do really talented people in academia think about people who are less capable than them?

I wouldn't say I'm a 'top' professor - hopefully someday, heh - but here's my take on it. I couldn't care less how 'smart' my students are or aren't. It's tough to quantify, and different people have ...
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  • 3,964
103 votes

Does academia have a lazy work culture?

Do not fall into the trap of assuming that "Value of work done" is proportional to "Hours spent at a desk". Some HR departments do think this way, but it's rarely true.
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  • 9,223
98 votes
Accepted

Was my student being disrespectful by using shouting language in her email to me?

For a one-off or short-term rudeness, my policy is to respond with pure facts, served chilled. If you have a good instinct for delivering comebacks at just the right level, a hint (but just a hint) of ...
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96 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't the academic year start on January first?

Basically because schooling is the inverse of farming. That is: Historically farming and feeding the family (and community) took precedence over all other considerations. This is primarily a job that ...
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96 votes

Is it socially acceptable to directly contact renowned academics as a student?

Yes, it's perfectly fine to do so. To maximise the chances of a response, make sure your email is clear, concise and polite.
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  • 18.7k
95 votes

Typical experiences of transgender people in academia?

(Original answer March 2015) I guess it's time to answer my own question. Not long after posting the original question I began living exclusively as a woman (barring some short family-related ...
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94 votes
Accepted

Is it true that 'nice' professors fail to produce good students?

That advice from the blog says to avoid an advisor who 1. Is nice, and friendly, and available. And never gives you the fierce criticism and the tough pushback that forces you to confront ...
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  • 107k
93 votes

What should I do the day before submitting my PhD thesis?

I would suggest reading through it one more time for pleasure. Savor the writing you labored so hard on, marvel at just how much work has gone into this, and reflect on where you are now compared to ...
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  • 180k
90 votes

Math Ph.D. does not know what to do with life?

Let me just comment on what you say towards the end, wich I believe is the root of your predicament. I hate being poor and lonely. I am approaching 30 without any relationship (even friendships). ...
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  • 34k
88 votes

I am interested in retracting my old journal articles. Would it have any negative effects on my academic career?

I am interested in retracting my old journal articles. Would it have any negative effects on my academic career? Yes, it would have severe negative effects. Don't do this. Retraction is intended ...
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87 votes

Contacted by head of school regarding an issue - should I be worried?

I think you should be worried that you and your colleagues might have to go without pizza the rest of the semester if you've already (unknowingly) burned through the budget, and not much else. You ...
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  • 64.6k
87 votes
Accepted

Is it okay to send a thank-you-for-teaching to a professor who taught a course a few semesters ago?

Yes, it is entirely appropriate and will be appreciated. Let the person know a bit about your current activities - especially successes. Even better, if it weren't for the pandemic, would be to pay ...
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  • 259k
83 votes
Accepted

"Academic time": why is 110 minutes called two hours?

The 10 minute interval given here seems to be common in the US, while in Europe 15 minutes is also in widespread use, but some universities also use 5 minutes. It is to solve a rather practical ...
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  • 670
83 votes

Was my student being disrespectful by using shouting language in her email to me?

No, "shouting" in an email isn't "normal". And, yes, it might imply disrespect. But I think that, given everything else you say, it is more likely that it indicates extreme PANIC ...
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  • 259k

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