351 votes

Dealing with a PhD student reneging on an agreement to appear in social media

Now it is more a matter of my authority. Well, yes... I’m sorry if this will come as a surprise to you, but coming across as an unreasonable, coercive boss who wants to force their students to ...
  • 179k
236 votes
Accepted

Is the phrase "thanks, but no thanks" appropriate in an email sent to a supervisor?

It sounds extremely rude, I am afraid. I would assume mitigating circumstances for a non-native speaker, but the "no thanks" permits "thanks" to be interpreted as substantive, and thus has a highly ...
209 votes
Accepted

Is it ethical to tell my teaching assistant that I like him?

Wait until after the course is over and grades are in: don't put your TA in a difficult situation. After that, you are just two adult humans, assuming you won't have any other courses with this TA.
  • 82.2k
189 votes

How to deal with arrogant e-mail of a student

How to deal with this? Dear [student], Thank you for pointing this out. [1 or 2 more sentences of explanation] Sincerely, [your name]. What troubles me is the attitude, which I found it kind ...
  • 131k
177 votes
Accepted

I don't want to kill any more mice, but my advisor insists that I must in order to get my PhD

tonysdg asked in a comment Can you talk to the department head? Or even better, a university ombudsperson (aka a neutral 3rd party who can discuss your options with you)? and you replied I don'...
  • 2,658
175 votes

I don't want to kill any more mice, but my advisor insists that I must in order to get my PhD

On the basis of the information you've given, I think you should look for a new supervisor as soon as possible. Regardless of whether you manage to adapt the focus of your work, your current ...
  • 12.2k
174 votes

Should a young professor avoid using dating apps?

Professors both young and old are known to use dating apps. So do students, doctors, engineers, lawyers, dental hygienists, and any other kind of person. In other words, there is nothing about being a ...
  • 179k
163 votes

First author doesn't want a co-author to read the whole paper

There is a golden standard (codified in the Vancouver Recommendations on authorship) that every author individually vouches for the correctness of the entire paper. In other words, you can't ask a co-...
158 votes

Have I embarassed my supervisors by solving a problem that a PhD student in my group was working on without success?

First, if you haven't already, I suggest you have a discussion with your advisor about what to do with the result. Is it worth writing up? Is it worth trying to publish or try to go further? If so, ...
  • 31.5k
156 votes

As a male student, did I say something wrong to this female professor?

From what you've said, it doesn't sound like a sexism issue specifically, but it might have come off that you regarded her sabbatical as a vacation rather than serious work. You might be worrying ...
148 votes
Accepted

How to deal with arrogant e-mail of a student

There are several things which are not mentioned in the email but which can be assumed when processing such a message: The student is actually trying to help everyone involved. Otherwise they wouldn'...
  • 1,546
148 votes

Will declining a research award be problematic for me, or other people?

Don't give in to Imposter Syndrome! Both your reasons are fundamentally not sound. Somebody nominated you for an award. The awards committee thinks you are deserving. You should not refuse the award ...
  • 131k
145 votes

I slept with my advisor's daughter and she is blackmailing me now. What can I do?

First off, you haven’t committed a crime (assuming she was above the age of consent) and you haven’t engaged in academic misconduct (since there is only an indirect academic relationship between you). ...
  • 18.2k
135 votes

How to deal with arrogant e-mail of a student

An arrogant sounding email does not mean that the person is arrogant. It is well-known that language and even the assumed personality in online communication differ from the real ones, sometimes very ...
129 votes
Accepted

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
123 votes

Two researchers want to work on the same extension to my paper. Who to help?

Work with both John and Sam on the same paper. You all have something to offer, so pool your efforts and work together.
  • 40.3k
118 votes

How to professionally handle sexist remarks by a student?

This is similar to the person of color getting stopped by the police. Is it just a random stop, or is it racism? Very hard to tell without statistics on large sample sizes, or direct evidence of ...
  • 1,648
118 votes
Accepted

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

Could not get along with any advisor, is it ego?

Back when I was in grad school and everybody I knew lived with roommates due to housing costs, some sets of roommates got along well and some had serious problems sharing space with one another. Over ...
  • 183k
117 votes

What can be done about a disruptive classmate?

You would handle this the same way you would handle anything in class that impacts your ability to learn. You contact the instructor, and suggest that there is something disruptive going on.
111 votes

While showing my work to my supervisor, an adult website appeared. Am I in trouble?

It's embarrassing, but it's also understandable. I think if your supervisor has decided to ignore it, then you should take this opportunity to not ruminate. So silently thank him, and forget it. I ...
  • 8,130
111 votes

I slept with my advisor's daughter and she is blackmailing me now. What can I do?

It may be worth thinking about the contrast between this: I could not resist her. I am here alone and had not been with a woman in two years until then. and this: Now she wants to start a ...
108 votes

I've developed a close relationship with my past graduate teaching assistant, and I'm very interested in her: is it appropriate to pursue this?

Since you are not working under her supervision right now, then assuming you are both adults, you are in the clear ethically, legally, and university policy-wise. The only real caveats are that if you ...
  • 179k
106 votes
Accepted

Prof's neurological health is declining rapidly. What can I (TA) do?

Let the department head know what you've observed. You can write an anonymous letter if you feel uncomfortable or are worried about burning bridges. (I've been in this situation, as a student. We - ...
  • 108k
105 votes
Accepted

How should instructors react when students bring (noisy) babies to class?

A blanket ban on bringing babies to class is probably not allowed at many institutions. However, I agree that if the baby is acting up, then the supervising parent should take the baby out of the ...
  • 172k
104 votes

Why do academics frequently write very short email replies?

Beyond a certain point in their careers, academics (in particular tenured professors) are essentially a subspecies of managers. And managers literally receive hundreds of emails per day. Some of ...
104 votes

Should I not hire someone who does not get along with me?

This question is fascinating to me on many levels. It shows a weird tendency that we have in academia to equate job offers to something like awards, where the decision for or against a candidate has ...
  • 131k

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