128

Generally, yes undergraduates should be paid for their research. This is an equity issue. At many institutions, a large portion of the student body has to work while they study in order to survive. If student research is unpaid, those students will not be able to participate. Students who have to work are often also members of other underrepresented ...


74

Accept that what you are doing when working with undergraduate researchers is teaching and developing young scientists. Make that mental shift, and your view of productivity changes enormously. Even the very best undergraduates I've had -- students who now have R1 faculty positions or equivalent -- were time-sinks at first and break-even after a year or ...


62

I would like to take a different perspective than Buffy: You were late (maybe even disrupted the course when entering the room) and missed something. Now you want additional time from your teacher to catch up something which happened in the first 10 minutes - which will take ~5-15 minutes of the working time of your teacher. Multiply this by 100 students ...


60

I was an undergraduate who was paid for his work (rather than receiving credit; I had the option of one or the other, but research credits in the department I worked in were useless to me). I worked at that lab throughout undergrad and am now a staff scientist in the same group. You really should give your students one or the other, or both, if your ...


54

The decision of whether someone should be a coauthor is completely independent of monetary compensation: authorship depends on what sort of intellectual contribution each person has made, and it would be unethical to treat them differently based on their job (paid assistant, student, colleague, amateur, etc.). People in different roles may be treated ...


49

Perfect question for office hours! Go and wait for your turn to ask.


47

Student assistant positions in Germany are usually open only to students enrolled at a local university (often where the position is offered, but always in Germany). This is for reasons of social insurance and labour regulation. You are not enrolled at a local university. In fact, you are studying outside Europe.


44

It is perfectly ethical to inform a student that you are currently supervising about open positions, especially if the student is about to complete the thesis and is a good fit to the position. It is of course not ethical to let the student's action upon this information affect the grading of the thesis. That's for you to take care of, and I guess you were ...


36

I've had a lot of undergrads in my lab (physics). Unlike Corvus, I'd say that certainly more than half have been net positives to the group's research, and several have been very productive. The two most important things, I would say, are: A lot of direct contact and guidance -- not by email, but actual conversation -- either (ideally) from you (the PI) or ...


33

I don't think it is inherently unethical to do this. If all relevant parties know about it and you scrupulously acknowledge this other person's work, then I see no specific problem. Whether it is advisable is a different question...and one you should certainly ask your advisor. I have to say that it does not sound like such a good idea to me. Your thesis ...


31

From my experience doing research assistant work at a state university in the US, and from speaking with peers in both "hard" and "human" sciences this is par for the course. A tiny bit of paperwork (a signature or two), and away you go. Though I'm assuming by "she will be paying me" it will be through the university rather than out of her own pocket. Do ...


26

It's unfair to take valuable labor from anyone, including students, without compensation. On the other hand, new undergraduates just starting in a research lab are often 90% training and 10% productivity (*). For new graduate students, it might be 75%/25%. So the training alone might be pay enough when a student is first starting out. (*) 1 undergraduate ...


25

I have had Narcolepsy for ten years now. I am also currently an undergraduate at university. In my opinion, based on personal experience as a person with narcolepsy, there are a few things important to consider. Firstly, the severity of narcolepsy is different for all those who suffer it so abilities vary. I am at university full time and whilst I am ...


22

Agnostic of institution, each of which has its own set of policies governing TA/RA pay (more or less depending on the institution), a short answer is yes. There are also, of course, different costs of living depending on where your institution is located (e.g., the cost of living in New York is much higher than in, say, the midwest). In any case, you will ...


21

No, there are no ethical concerns, as long as whoever you hire is given the appropriate credit for the work she/he did. There are economic reasons why this situation is unlikely to be fruitful, but that is another question.


19

As with any situation, there are many levels to any answer… Mainly, the question is: was the data-set published? If so, who owns the copyright? Probably not your professor, but the university. If it wasn't published, then it isn't ethical to use the records you kept of it for another purpose, without authorization from your employer. However, there might be ...


19

Sure, but I doubt you can afford it. Let's see what the options are: You can hire an undergrad part-time to write some of your code, but chances are that you'll spend more time digging up their bugs and teaching them it would take to write the code yourself. Probably not worth it.1 Or you could get a real programmer, but a good professional programmer is ...


19

This will likely vary greatly from one department to another. It will also depend upon your relationship with your advisor, departmental needs, etc. As @tonysdg noted in the comments, it would be a good idea to talk to your advisor about this. Some departments are understanding of these situations. In my (geography) department, a few years ago we had a ...


18

I have been in a different situation (on the student side) but it has some similarities. Maybe this helps you. I was writing my MA thesis and had already been accepted to start my PhD. My assigned MA thesis supervisor and I did not get on at all, and my request to change supervisors was denied by the department. I asked my future-PhD supervisor to supervise ...


18

How should I address this person? You should ask him how he would prefer to be addressed, and then follow that.


17

If you are working at a US University, they often do this in order to ensure that you are ineligible for benefits under the family and medical leave act (fmla). If you work over 1250 hours they have to provide you with additional benefits, which cost more than they are willing to pay for your labor. http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/fmla.htm


16

As someone who hires research assistants in my own department, here are some concerns I would have about such an offer. There are students in my own university who would appreciate the research assistantship. My department has more qualified students to do research than supervisory capacity to give them all that opportunity. I have an aversion to taking on ...


16

If you have written the paper, you certainly have the right to be at least a co-author. In fact, from what you said, it seems to me highly dubious that your professor should a an author at all. Being paid as a RA does not waive your right of getting credits for publications you wrote. Your professor is also paid by the university. EDIT: If you would like ...


15

I think this is just an issue of definition of "what you must do to succeed in your academic program" vs "job duties". A research assistant is a job, and as such it does not always pay you to be doing what you'd be doing anyway. Sometimes you have to do work or help your adviser in a way that does not directly relate to your own program or research ...


15

My answer is rather a statement about what not to do rather what to do: Do not do a PhD in a field you are not interested in. And do not choose a field of research for your degree just because of convenience (offer/opportunity). I cannot emphasise that enough. In addition, switching topics drastically after a PhD is very difficult. It is possible, but I ...


14

You may be assuming that the students who only work the minimum time required are motivated only to get the paycheck. I would speculate that students actually work the minimum time required to keep you happy. Dedicated, high-achieving students know that they need both research and grades to get into grad school -- keeping you happy achieves the first, and ...


13

OK, well, you have a problem. By the terms of your appointment, you are entitled to stay for the 24-month period. The faculty you're working with made a commitment to support you for 24 months, and generally speaking, it is his duty to do so. However, that's not the whole story. You also have an implicit obligation to do good research that advances his ...


13

I am going to outline why I think it is ethical and contrast this with the case described in the question Is it ethically questionable for me (an undergraduate) to hire “research assistants”?. Also, I am answering with a perspective from Germany. tl;dr: Yes, it is ethical and it is routinely done. The question linked above explicitly asks a similar ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible