410 votes

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

It depends entirely on whether you have consulted the other meeting participants. There is nothing inherently wrong about an 8 a.m. meeting if it is convenient for everyone involved. If you have set ...
204 votes

Should I seek professional help because I have a lot of math books?

Personally, it seems to me that he was just making a joke. Awkwardly, perhaps, but still, just a joke. Your personal library seemed to him (and me) to be so "over the top" that it was hard ...
  • 300k
188 votes

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

My deepest sympathies for what you are going through. You should certainly tell your advisor. No reasonable person would believe that you are using this situation as an "excuse" for poor performance. ...
  • 108k
172 votes

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

Early (or late) meetings are generally unreasonable. Some people naturally wake up early, while others stay up late and are more productive in the evening. If you force people to attend meetings that ...
  • 2,927
160 votes

How should I proceed when a (famous) professor says I'm not good enough for research?

I am sorry that it happened to you. This is not a pleasant experience, and frankly it's a shame that toxic professors and supervisors are still common in academia. Academic research is broad and multi-...
147 votes

Is watching porn in university a crime?

Let's start with the disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. If you're over the age of 18, it's not illegal to watch most types of porn in the US. Certain types of porn, like child pornography are illegal. ...
  • 7,064
142 votes

Is it okay for a professor to leave the classroom only 5 min past the class start if nobody has shown up?

I think this is less about regulations and more about respect and conditioning the students. Also, don't feel offended, you are not the (primary) reason for what happened. Legitimate Reasons for ...
138 votes

Will my cancer ruin my chances of going to graduate school in math?

First of all, I’m happy you’re doing better! It would take a truly heartless committee to ignore the circumstances. In the US it’s illegal if I’m not mistaken, but from a recruiter’s perspective I ...
  • 23.6k
132 votes

Why does a mathematics department want student evaluations of a famous professor?

Being a good teacher and being a good researcher are distinct skills. If someone has a job that requires both skills, they should be being evaluated on both.
131 votes

Master thesis advisor gave me an ill-defined question. I worked on it for a year!

You (and some of the commenters) have a misconception about mathematics, and even research in general. You need to dispel that and present what you have done and learned in a way that satisfies your ...
  • 300k
129 votes

How to deal with a colleague who always puts you down?

I favor the Confusingly Positive/Neutral Response in these situations. "So-and-so did Awesome Thing and you --" "Wow, that's great! When will it be published? I'd like to read it." "What was your ...
  • 6,788
126 votes

COVID-19 - how do I navigate this situation with my advisor?

As someone who's been out of academia for a while, I would like to offer a different perspective. Yes, occupying your co-advisor's attention when the roof is on fire is tone-deaf. However: you have ...
122 votes

Is it frowned upon to go to office hours as a graduate student?

Grad students who come to office hours with good questions that show serious engagement with the material (e.g. attempts to solve the problem themself) are generally seen as mature, hard-working ...
  • 108k
118 votes

Shall I go and see my advisor's father who is on his death bed?

Unless you have some direct relationship with his father, this is not something we'd normally do in US, UK, or Australian culture. (I'm not sure if it's the same everywhere in the EU.) A polite ...
117 votes

Is talking about quitting to your supervisor a point of no return?

Talking about quitting with your supervisor (or someone else in your supervisory committee or department) is not a point of no return. In fact, it can be a turning point. PhD students all go through ...
  • 31.6k
117 votes

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

It is not unreasonable, but it might annoy your graduate students. I myself wouldn't like it because it would mean that I have to get up an hour earlier than my girlfriend. Maybe one should set the ...
117 votes

Bombed an academic interview, should I do anything about it?

First of all, you should cool down before you take any action. Clearly, the interview was an emotionally intense event for you, so don't do anything in the spur of the moment (and "a few days later" ...
  • 131k
113 votes

How to deal with professors who don't follow the text

If your undergraduate lectures were perfectly predictable, following the book exactly, and you showed up perfectly prepared to each one, then they were actually completely useless. You could have just ...
  • 3,759
106 votes

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

Yes! In fact, I think you're well on your way to doing better than your peers! Taking longer to understand something isn't something to be proud of! There's no need to reinvent the wheel. If someone ...
  • 112k
105 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 ...
  • 4,034
103 votes

Do universities care about bias experienced in group projects?

I'm going to come this from the other (probably less popular!) direction. I see no evidence of racial bias in your description. Of course I wasn't there and can't judge it, but to me it seems like ...
  • 59.1k
101 votes

Is Relocating Necessary in Academia?

There are exceptions in some specific fields (for example accounting) where corporate jobs are much more attractive than academic ones, but, in general, an academic considers themselves very lucky if ...
98 votes

Why is having multiple college majors seen as a bad thing when applying to graduate school?

It seems to be a common fallacy among undergraduate students that completing more majors and/or minors means that you have learned more in college. I think this comes from the mistaken belief that ...
  • 1,026
96 votes

Why should a P.I be motivated to write a strong LOR even if that means losing a undergraduate from his/her lab?

When I am evaluating a research group leader, one of the most important things I examine is where their former students work. If their former undergraduates have moved to PhD programs at excellent ...
94 votes

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 ...
  • 108k
90 votes

Supervisor has said some very disgusting things online, should I pull my name from our paper?

I don't think you need to pull your name from the paper(s). You're junior enough, and there are enough odious high-ranking people spouting nonsense online, that people won't blame you. I WOULD start ...
  • 4,326
88 votes

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

My mother died shortly after I matriculated to my PhD program. I actually could not finish all of my classes, and had to make up work the following semester. Everyone involved (dept. head, advisor, ...
  • 2,435
86 votes

I hate taking lectures, can I still survive in academia?

I can sympathize. I'm extremely susceptible to "Power Point" hypnosis: 10 slides in and my head is staring to nod, 30 slides and I'm in danger of snoring. This isn't limited to dull talks, or the ...

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