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199 votes

How honest should I be in disclosing not-so-exciting results?

In research, you don't set out to prove that something is true. You set out to discover whether or not it is true. This would be knowledge. The other is just propaganda. Negative results are not a ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 365k
165 votes

How can I tell my advisor that I'm not going to work for free?

I would suggest that you repeat that you did not win the fellowship and ask if he has other funding available, "because I am still very interested in the work, but will need to find paid work instead ...
Significance's user avatar
  • 6,064
163 votes

How to deal with incompetent PhD student as an undergrad

No gloves/splash goggles when working with (hot) concentrated acids and bases. Some of these experiments are run outside the fume hood, and sometimes on the floor when there is no space on the lab ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar
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, ...
Kimball's user avatar
  • 32.3k
155 votes

What does this professor mean by saying "I do not have time to respond"

Keep in mind a very simple rule: Professors are human beings Many of the questions on this site seem to assume from the outset that faculty are strange, mysterious and mercurial creatures, whose ...
Fomite's user avatar
  • 52k
127 votes

Should professors pay undergraduate students doing research in their labs?

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. ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar
107 votes

Does the International Math Olympiad help research mathematics?

I think of Olympiad problems more as "parlour tricks". They're really difficult, and it's super-impressive if someone's good at them, but the skills are very different to the skills you need in ...
Patrick Stevens's user avatar
100 votes

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

How do I act diplomatically while at the same time making sure I get due credit for my achievements? Follow JeffE's advice: You have at least three people who contributed to the proof of the theorem. ...
Dirk's user avatar
  • 38.1k
98 votes

My undergraduate thesis project is a failure and I don't know what to do

"It didn't work" is not a thesis. However, "this is what I made, this is how I tested it, these are the results of those tests, this is how I attempted to fix/would attempt to fix in ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 116k
94 votes

Found a severe error in a conference paper after presentation but before the proceedings

Let's see: You wrote a paper of sufficient writing quality that it was chosen for presentation at a conference and publication. None of the peer reviewers noticed anything wrong with it. None of the ...
Ray Butterworth's user avatar
93 votes

As an undergrad, is it unethical to work in a field that I'm not interested in pursuing further in graduate school?

It is definitely not unethical. Many undergraduates interested in medical careers do research in, say, biology labs, since it looks good on their applications. It is common practice in the field, and ...
neuranna's user avatar
  • 2,724
87 votes

Don't want someone else to continue on the topic of my thesis

Congratulations on the successful defence of your thesis. If at all possible, take some time to relax. I understand your concern, but you have no real reason to worry. In general, there is always ...
Carl Christian's user avatar
86 votes

Is it ethically justifiable to conceal a fatal conceptual flaw in a thesis to avoid an unaffordable 2-year setback if the flaw is the advisor's fault?

Honestly, this sounds more like a philosophical / personal ethics question than an professional ethics question. The "academic ethics" answers are what you already know: Withholding ...
Eric Anderson's user avatar
83 votes

How honest should I be in disclosing not-so-exciting results?

Omitting negative findings and selectively reporting only the positive findings would be a breach of research ethics. As a researcher you are supposed to uncover knowledge,* not to obscure it. ...
henning's user avatar
  • 35.1k
75 votes

How to increase the productivity of undergraduate research assistants?

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 ...
Corvus's user avatar
  • 18.1k
72 votes

What are the potential benefits and pitfalls of leaving tenth grade early to pursue an internship at a prominent research lab?

I'd like to offer a counterpoint to Anonymous Physicist. I started school early because I was on the border of the birthday cutoff date, and then skipped my senior year of high school. So I left for ...
Telastyn's user avatar
  • 793
69 votes

My professor presented a problem that I solved. He says I can send it to a conference. What is the etiquette in cases like this?

There is no ethical issue. You should be proud of your accomplishment and publish the paper. It may be, in fact, that the professor saw the problem but not the solution and needed it himself. In ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 365k
67 votes

Is it unethical to edit the text of my undergraduate thesis prior to sharing online?

IMHO it depends on why you want to make it available. If your primary reason is that you want to make information available more publicly, you could produce a "revised edition" of the thesis and add ...
cbeleites unhappy with SX's user avatar
65 votes

Can I make an exam question for graduate & undergraduate students to find an idea in making a breakthrough in my research?

Even ignoring the elephant in the room (that I am unsure why you expect your students to have a reasonable shot to very quickly solve an issue that has apparently been stumping you for some time), ...
xLeitix's user avatar
  • 135k
60 votes

What are the potential benefits and pitfalls of leaving tenth grade early to pursue an internship at a prominent research lab?

Wait! Perhaps you can finish tenth grade AND attend the internship, using some people skills :) First, there should be an administrative coordinator listed in your internship correspondence. (If ...
Former Research Intern's user avatar
60 votes

How can an undergraduate be recognized for work done on a paper, with a fellow PhD student and a professor?

The best thing you can do to ensure your work is recognized and credited is to have honest, open communications with the other people you’re working with. So long as everybody’s clear on who is doing ...
aeismail's user avatar
  • 174k
59 votes

How do I become motivated after unfairness in research?

In both of the experiences you describe, you were not treated fairly. I think it's really healthy to be disappointed at unfair treatment: for one thing, this kind of disappointment is a key component ...
Pete L. Clark's user avatar
59 votes

Should professors pay undergraduate students doing research in their labs?

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 ...
Azor Ahai -him-'s user avatar
58 votes

How do I politely decline a research grant?

How do I politely decline a research grant? Let's be clear here. Based on your account I'm getting the impression that, with a reasonably high level of confidence, there is no way for you to "...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 190k
58 votes

Fellow student seems to be chasing rainbows. Should I step in?

Which kind of interaction, if any, is ethical and reasonable for me to engage in? Discuss your concerns with your peer. How are similar problems usually handled in academia? Through discussion. ...
user2768's user avatar
  • 40.7k
57 votes

Does the International Math Olympiad help research mathematics?

Disclaimer: I participated in the International Math Olympiad, and have a PhD in operations research, which is essentially a type of applied math. There is some overlap between math olympiads and ...
I Like to Code's user avatar
55 votes

Problem with undergraduate research supervisor, how to proceed?

I'll be honest with you, remarking that this is only my opinion, by no means I'm right. Undergrads are a pain to supervise. Mostly because, in general, undergrads require a lot of "hand-holding" ...
Fábio Dias's user avatar
  • 8,732
55 votes

I have egregiously sloppy (possibly falsified) data that I need to correct. How should I go about this?

I infer from the question that you still have the raw data. In that case, I think you need to re-do all the steps in which errors could be introduced (such as data entry, spread-sheet calculations, ...
Andreas Blass's user avatar

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