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 ...
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  • 171k
280 votes
Accepted

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), ...
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  • 2,244
188 votes

What to do when your student is convinced that he will be the next Einstein?

Let the standard processes of education and research take their course. This student will probably not survive them to receive the degree, and that is as it should be. Tough love: warn, then let the ...
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  • 6,768
162 votes
Accepted

What to remember when supervising female PhD students?

My view is that her gender does not/should not change anything in how I supervise her or what I expect from her, the rationale being that doing so might ultimately hurt her in her post-PhD career. For ...
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  • 107k
151 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 ...
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  • 70.1k
131 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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127 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 ...
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  • 127k
127 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 ...
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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 ...
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124 votes
Accepted

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&...
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  • 52.7k
116 votes
Accepted

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 (...
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  • 13.3k
115 votes

Is it acceptable for a professor to ask post-doc student to babysit for free?

Your friend's advisor has made a very unethical request because, as a supervisor, it makes it harder for the postdocs to feel like they can say no. And they should feel free to say no, since the ...
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  • 172k
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 ...
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  • 270k
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 ...
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  • 8,120
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, ...
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106 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 ...
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  • 1,021
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 ...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 11.8k
99 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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  • 172k
95 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 ...
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  • 1,469
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 ...
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  • 105k
87 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 ...
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  • 4,575
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 ...
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  • 171k
83 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 ...
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  • 23.3k
82 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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  • 46.1k
79 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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  • 18.1k
78 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 171k

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