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361 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 ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
279 votes

Advisor tries to reproduce my results to ensure my honesty. Is it the norm?

As many have pointed out in the comments (Nate Eldredge, Dan Romik, Per Alexandersson, etc.), the point is not to catch you cheating (as if you were intentionally trying to manipulate your results), ...
DMML's user avatar
  • 2,254
150 votes

Should I make my research students' pay contingent on completion of tasks (such as reading/summarizing papers)?

Do not do this. At best, you will appear merely stingy; at worst, perhaps financially abusive. (I also suspect your university would not even allow it, but I think that's not as important because it ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 119k
132 votes

Inadmissible theorems in research

Does maths research have anything inadmissible? No, but trying to prove X without using Y is still a very useful concept even in research, because it can lead to interesting generalizations, or new ...
Federico Poloni's user avatar
131 votes

Applying for a postdoc. Should I mention that I completed my PhD with no supervision?

Should I mention that I completed my Ph.D. with no supervision? Definitely not. "I had no supervision during my PhD." could be interpreted as "Nobody taught me anything during my Ph.D. so I am ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar
128 votes

How to deal with unnecessary stress introduced by the supervisor?

It is not unreasonable for a supervisor to write emails in the middle of the night. I do it myself, and frequently at that (sometimes because I am honestly just working late, sometimes because I am in ...
xLeitix's user avatar
  • 135k
126 votes

I'm 2 months into my PhD. When can I ask my supervisor about the rejected candidates?

You can ask, but it's really none of your business. Admissions committee deliberations are generally treated as confidential. Asking about the other candidates and why they were rejected will almost ...
Nicole Hamilton's user avatar
126 votes

I ghosted my previous supervisor for 15 days. How to improve my situation?

If I'm understanding correctly, I think the situation is not as bad as you say: Your supervisor last reached out to you about 4 days ago You have significant progress to report You have no "real&...
cag51's user avatar
  • 69.6k
116 votes

Is it fair to my PhD student if I ask them to do "miscellaneous" work for a paper they're not going to be a coauthor of?

Preparing a graph from already-generated data, to me, doesn't merit co-authorship but would justify a mention in the Acknowledgements. However, something that takes two days out of a student's time (...
iayork's user avatar
  • 13.4k
115 votes

Is it pointless to bring up poor supervision during PhD viva?

I'd suggest that the viva is possibly the worst time to do this. Almost anything you say could be interpreted as whining and trying to deflect responsibility for any shortcomings. Many things you ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 367k
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 ...
Ooker's user avatar
  • 8,256
109 votes

One of my student researchers is likely falsifying some results/data. What are the consequences?

You have suspicions, but the evidence, as you sketch it here, is circumstantial. You need hard proof. Then you can (and must) act. Falsifying data is a capital crime in academia. It wastes time, ...
Captain Emacs's user avatar
108 votes

How to supervise a bad PhD student

I am currently on my second PhD since I dropped out of the first one. I was the "nightmare student," and so I'd like to give you my perspective. This may not be relevant, but I started out as highly ...
Sufi's user avatar
  • 1,051
105 votes

Is it fair to my PhD student if I ask them to do "miscellaneous" work for a paper they're not going to be a coauthor of?

If you have to ask, then I suspect that at some level you know it's wrong. I'm a PhD student, and I would find it extremely rude of my advisor if he behaved this way. It's not a student's job to ...
Gautam's user avatar
  • 1,019
104 votes

My supervisor misjudges my knowledge

More years ago than I care to remember, I changed departments and started working for a new manager (NM). At the same time, another person (AP) also joined the department. My new manager put a weekly ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 13.3k
99 votes

Is asking your PhD supervisor a basic question considered inappropriate?

If your colleagues in the department—presumably also PhD students—don't understand the concept, either, it doesn't strike me that the question is truly "basic." That said, if your advisor is aware of ...
aeismail's user avatar
  • 174k
95 votes

I'm in a religious country, and my religious supervisor is praying. What should I do?

I grew up in a Muslim-majority country. Do's and don'ts: Do show respect for the religion. That means avoid doing things like comment on how inconvenient it must be to pray five times a day, don't ...
Allure's user avatar
  • 131k
93 votes

Should I report a PhD student’s incompetence to their supervisor?

This is unethical and unprofessional. It is simply none of your business. You are not in a position to evaluate the student. Writing to his supervisor will make you look bad. It is an insult to his ...
None's user avatar
  • 1,485
93 votes

Decline PhD offer gracefully due to low salary

Just be honest and say what you mean politely. There’s no need to be graceful, nobody is going to be upset for the reason, as everyone knows doing a PhD is financially very tough. Communicating the ...
user438383's user avatar
  • 3,166
88 votes

Advisor tries to reproduce my results to ensure my honesty. Is it the norm?

There may be another reason your advisor wants to do this: perhaps the work can be continued in the future by another of their students, and your advisor wants to be able to explain the details to ...
Peter K.'s user avatar
  • 4,938
85 votes

Regret after not being able to solve a problem that my supervisor did easily

"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do" --- Eleanor Roosevelt. You can relax; for experienced academics, the baseline expectation is ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 69.1k
85 votes

PhD supervisor complaining about not getting paid for supervision

This situation sucks, but if it's just some shitty comments, then you need to just ignore it. Unless it's so bad that you feel compelled to switch advisors or leave the position. It seems like those ...
Daniel R. Collins's user avatar
84 votes

Is it discrimination to hold someone from a minority or underprivileged background to the same academic standard as regular students?

You are asking two separate and completely unrelated questions. The first, which you posed in the title, concerns the meaning of the English word "discrimination". The answer to that question is very ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
84 votes

Am I being exploited by my supervisor?

Yes you are. Point 4 is downright abuse of power. You are not in any way obliged to provide free tuition to your advisor’s child! If your institution has reasonable management, you reporting this ...
Spark's user avatar
  • 27.6k
81 votes

PhD supervisor wants me to quit after break

If your advisor is suggesting that you quit, it is likely that you will have a hard time carrying on with the same advisor. You maybe need to have a discussion with them about why your performance ...
xxxxxxxxx's user avatar
  • 6,142
78 votes

Prospective supervisor wants me to do irrelevant videos as a condition for supervision. Can I say yes when I mean no?

No, this is not okay. If you lie your way into a position you are not suited for, you will almost certainly pay for it down the line. That's a very general rule, and I think it applies here. If you ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 18.4k
78 votes

Telling a former supervisor you don't want to publish

Keep it short and sweet: Dear [her name], Thanks for the reminder about our project. I thought about it some more, and for personal reasons I won’t be able to continue with the work. Since you have ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
76 votes

Graduate student with abysmal English writing skills, how to help

My wife, who was a writing coach for scientists, once had great success with a native speaker of Japanese whose written English was poor. She suggested he write the first few drafts in his native ...
Ethan Bolker's user avatar
  • 36.5k

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