Buffy
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13 answers
171 votes
40k views
Grades are too high for the department - what should I do?
289 votes

One really wants to say that the vice-chair is an idiot, but I will refrain. The policy is idiotic in any case. I've taught at places in which nearly every student excels on every measure I could ...

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17 answers
118 votes
40k views
In a yes/no question, a student gives the right answer and an unnecessary but wrong explanation. How to grade?
231 votes

I think that if you would allow full marks for just yes/no without an explanation at all, then you should allow it here. Otherwise the question is flawed and can't be properly and fairly graded. But a ...

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14 answers
93 votes
21k views
Should I seek professional help because I have a lot of math books?
201 votes

Personally, it seems to me that he was just making a joke. Awkwardly, perhaps, but still, just a joke. Your personal library seemed to him (and me) to be so "over the top" that it was hard ...

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7 answers
68 votes
20k views
Etiquette question: is there such a thing as accepting an offer 'too early'?
Accepted answer
199 votes

Actually, it is simple courtesy to accept as soon as you know you will do so. This helps the institution deal with its obligations to you and others. It isn't a game you play for "advantage". You hope ...

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8 answers
70 votes
17k views
How honest should I be in disclosing not-so-exciting results?
196 votes

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 ...

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18 answers
45 votes
17k views
Should students have access to past exams or an exam bank?
145 votes

As a professor, one has to assume that all past exam questions are available to students. Some student organizations debrief members after exams and capture the questions for such an exam bank. Some ...

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9 answers
105 votes
37k views
What to do if I have seen an exam before I have taken it?
Accepted answer
145 votes

In a situation in which you would suffer no matter what you do, you can also work to protect yourself. An anonymous note to the professor that the exam has been compromised and that there are ...

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10 answers
101 votes
40k views
Is having access to past exams cheating and, if yes, could it be proven just by a good grade?
Accepted answer
140 votes

You haven't said whether you were actually accused or not. I'm assuming that you are just worried about what might happen in the meeting that hasn't happened yet. The most honest way to proceed, ...

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4 answers
36 votes
14k views
I am interested in retracting my old journal articles. Would it have any negative effects on my academic career?
133 votes

The way to "retract" old work is to publish better work that references the old work and its errors. There should be nothing embarrassing about having found earlier errors and correcting them. You ...

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5 answers
29 votes
11k views
Master thesis advisor gave me an ill-defined question. I worked on it for a year!
132 votes

You (and some of the commenters) have a misconception about mathematics, and even research in general. You need to dispel that and present what you have done and learned in a way that satisfies your ...

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16 answers
55 votes
15k views
Should a teacher be able to solve all the assignments they give their students themselves?
127 votes

In general, yes, a teacher should know how to do any assignment and, in some cases, should have actually done it. In teaching programming, for example, it is usually a mistake to assign a problem that ...

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14 answers
39 votes
7k views
In academic papers, is it really a bad thing to not report the relatively not good results?
126 votes

Research is a search for truth, not for happy talk. If you have evidence of some behavior then you should be honest and report it just as it is. Don't try to dress it up. Giving only the "best&...

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9 answers
37 votes
13k views
A professor I know is becoming head of department, do I send congratulations or condolences?
Accepted answer
123 votes

That would depend on how well I knew the person. If they were a very close friend of long standing, I'd probably offer condolences, just as a joke. But that would take a special relationship. In the ...

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10 answers
86 votes
21k views
Accused of cheating due to the time accounted by Blackboard
121 votes

Unfortunately you can't prove a negative. You have been "caught" by a system that is insufficiently accurate to properly evaluate your actions (and those of many others). All you can really ...

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4 answers
103 votes
21k views
A famous scholar sent me an unpublished draft of hers. Then she died. I think her work should be published. What should I do?
121 votes

The first thing to do is to contact her estate. You can probably reach someone through her last affiliation. I assume that they have control over all of the papers and effects of the deceased. Since ...

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13 answers
62 votes
16k views
Accidentally leaked the solution to an assignment, what to do now? (I'm the prof)
Accepted answer
118 votes

Very simple actually. Abandon the assignment. Apologize for the error, but not for wasting people's time. Those who didn't find the solution and worked on it certainly learned something. Those who ...

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5 answers
39 votes
11k views
Good idea to warn students they were suspected of cheating?
117 votes

No, you should not single them out. If you have evidence of cheating, then charge it. If you have suspicions then you should swallow and ignore them so as not to prejudice the students in the future. ...

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8 answers
45 votes
10k views
Is it OK to have a PhD thesis with shortcomings and inaccuracies?
Accepted answer
117 votes

The thesis is a "good" one if you have passed and will be awarded your degree. Don't overthink it. You have learned something from producing it that you can leverage into future work. That is, in lots ...

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3 answers
27 votes
10k views
My professor skipped me on Christmas bonus payment
Accepted answer
116 votes

I think you need a more serious conversation with your advisor. You need to know if he is unhappy with your performance and if there are things you need to do to improve it. If the answer is no, then ...

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10 answers
35 votes
9k views
Is it pointless to bring up poor supervision during PhD viva?
115 votes

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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16 answers
82 votes
17k views
Is it valid to modify a student's exam grade if you feel they did not earn it?
115 votes

Since you ask, specifically, about legality, I'll say that it is unlikely that it would be a matter of criminal law anywhere, though, of course, I can't know the laws of every jurisdiction. But it ...

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5 answers
65 votes
14k views
Students using the same flawed online solution sheet as the grading TA
Accepted answer
113 votes

If the online sheet is incorrect and you suffered because of it, and if you have proof that the TA used that sheet, then you should point out to the professor of the course what has happened. But, ...

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4 answers
35 votes
14k views
Error in master's thesis, I do not know what to do
113 votes

Revoking an earned degree is exceedingly rare and would probably be appropriate only for serious and intentional errors such as fraud. I think you can rest easy on that. Talk to your advisor and lay ...

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6 answers
52 votes
11k views
How should I respond to a reviewer's complaint about self-citation?
Accepted answer
112 votes

The answers here of Solar Mike and corey979 are correct, but let me point out two additional issues. First, it might be that without your citations you could validly be accused of self plagiarism. ...

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8 answers
57 votes
14k views
Quoting a book whose title contains a racial slur
107 votes

It is what it is. You aren't responsible for that. I suggest that you cite it as you would any other work. Presumably you aren't endorsing racist views. You aren't being "kind" by hiding ...

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12 answers
61 votes
9k views
Can I (should I) change the name of this distribution?
106 votes

Actually changing the name because someone might be offended by a sound that comes from a completely different domain and is completely separate from the history of racism would be condescending, in ...

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7 answers
41 votes
12k views
Will a paper be retracted if a flaw in released software code invalidates its central idea?
106 votes

If the main idea in the paper has been invalidated by the correction in the code, you would do well to try to retract the paper yourself. This is just a point of professional ethics. It also protects ...

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14 answers
80 votes
18k views
How did researchers find articles before the Internet and the computer era?
Accepted answer
106 votes

We depended on libraries and librarians. Grad students would spend hours in, say, the math section of a good academic library, going from book to book and taking copious notes (on paper, of course). ...

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12 answers
9 votes
8k views
Realizing possible academic misconduct after degree award
105 votes

What you should do, is precisely nothing. Take a deep breath. Have a culturally appropriate beverage and celebrate your finishing. We are human. None of us is perfect. We fall. We get up. We move on. ...

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9 answers
27 votes
8k views
Is being a poor writer a serious impediment as a researcher?
102 votes

Yes, you need to be able to write to be successful in academia, as in many things. But it is a skill that can be learned. You can take courses and you can practice. And, as with most learning, ...

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