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Can I get a refund if I bought an article that contains a major flaw?
128 votes

Of course you can request one - just send an email. You'll brighten up the publisher's office for the afternoon, and they'll be chuckling all the way home. So just as long as you don't seriously ...

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When can a person be called a PhD ABD?
113 votes

Some people think it's ok to call yourself PhD ABD when in the Canadian or US system, you pass the qualifying exams and coursework, but haven't yet, or fail to ever, deliver the thesis. But simply do ...

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PhD student, issued contract at year 3 which will sign over intellectual property. Is it legal?
109 votes

Legally, you can't be made to sign a retrospective, retroactive contract. Professionally, if your supervisor or the university person responsible for the CASE studentships decided to be obnoxious ...

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What to do if reviewers reject a paper without understanding the content?
Accepted answer
62 votes

F'x has ably covered one possible reason: that it's not you, it's them. I'm going to cover the other side of things. That is, starting from the assumption that the editor has made a good decision. ...

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Is it appropriate for an undergrad student to ask a professor to sign a non-disclosure agreement?
60 votes

Let's see: you want the professor to freely give out their trade secrets on their real device, so that you can build a potentially competing device; and you want the professor to sign an NDA on your ...

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What should you do if you cannot reproduce published results?
Accepted answer
53 votes

Just publish. Publish your attempts to replicate the findings, documenting the discrepancies, together with the nice results you've obtained by extending their work. Consider sending a draft to the ...

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What should raise red flags to detect fabricated data
Accepted answer
48 votes

There is only one reliable way to do it, which is to try to replicate their results. The unreliable, but not completely useless way, is to see if the numbers fit Benford's Law. Benford's Law ...

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Attitudes towards self-plagiarism
44 votes

Firstly, quoting any work, including your own, without explicit attribution of the quote, is going to earn you a very bad reputation for plagiarism sooner or later. Just say no. Secondly, and to ...

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How often do professors regret accepting particular graduate students (i.e., "bad hires")?
42 votes

I've discussed this with a few line managers, I've hired a few people, and I've checked with headhunters. We all come to very similar numbers**. Once you're doing the recruiting well, you can expect ...

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How can I hire a professor to write a research paper?
39 votes

Yes, some professors are available for consultancy work. Find one or two in your specialty, and approach them: some universities have directories of experts listed by subject, to help you identify ...

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If I publish under a pseudonym, can I still take credit for my work?
Accepted answer
39 votes

Taking it that your asking about a nom de plume (aka "pen name") for reasons of conspicuousness, rather than for reasons of anonymity: Yes, it is possible to publish under something other than your ...

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What credit does inclusion in "Who is Who" book add to the researchers and academicians?
35 votes

They are trying to sell their books and associated vanity products. They know that their primary market for it, is people included in it. Personally, I'd take an academic's inclusion in it to be a ...

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How to respond to “philosophical” questions that aim to undermine a position or derail a discussion?
Accepted answer
35 votes

Is this colleague really an academic? How on earth did he get a job in academia? How does he manage to retain it? He sounds like a teenage boy from your description of his style of arguing. He's a ...

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Years ago, a professor agreed to write a LOR, but never sent it. Therefore, I'm not accepted in any school. What can I do?
34 votes

I'd like to pick up something that eykanal has mentioned in a comment, because I think it's crucial. Brace yourself, you're not going to like this. But it's better you know the truth. When you ask ...

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Handling unsolicited proofs of famous mathematical problems
34 votes

Continue to treat it as spam, and ignore it. For every Ramanujan, there are many many thousands of time-wasters. The reward:cost ratio, weighted by the ratio of misunderstood geniuses to time-...

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Has anyone failed coursework requirement and got terminated from PhD program?
Accepted answer
31 votes

Yes, it happens. And it has to be this way. We've had students who do not do sufficiently well in the coursework, but do so well in other regards that they are allowed to continue on to their Phd: ...

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Editor indicated that if minor changes are made, paper could be published: what are the chances of publication?
Accepted answer
29 votes

Yes, if you've only been asked to make minor changes, the paper stands a very good job of being published. Now you've got to work methodically, and be meticulous with the detail. Go through each ...

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Who benefits from the anonymity of the peer review process?
29 votes

The readers and the editors can benefit. I know this is a contended issue, and there are many different views. But as you've asked specifically whether there's somebody else who is interested in the ...

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Can I write a paper out of a simple idea?
28 votes

No, you cannot write a paper out of a simple idea. A simple idea contributes nothing. I guess we all have simple novel ideas every day. However, if you ground that simple idea within theory, and/or ...

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Adviser wants to be joint first author, even though I did most of the research
Accepted answer
28 votes

You write: The only "effort" my adviser does is writing the actual paper Well, in many fields, that would make them sole author. It certainly gives them a very strong claim to be first author, in ...

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Supervisor keeps "showstopping" defense with nit-picky grammar errors
27 votes

The things you call "nitpicky grammar errors" are often (in my experience) symptoms of a deeper problem: that the student has stopped caring about raising the thesis to a suitably high standard, and ...

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How to prevent plagiarism of my papers?
26 votes

You've handled the conference plagiarism very well. But then you say you've stopped putting your papers on your website: and I'm afraid that that is completely counter-productive. It would be far ...

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What do admission committees look for in a diversity essay?
Accepted answer
25 votes

It seems to me that it would be prudent to start from the assumption that the words in the question have been chosen carefully, after some deliberation; and so she should answer the question put, as ...

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Academic journals aimed at publishing work by high school students
25 votes

Publishing in early career If the research is good enough, it will get published. The challenge is to do good-enough research as a sixth-form student. Actually, that's a challenge for any of us, at ...

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What are some general good principles for creating a poster for a poster session?
Accepted answer
25 votes

The title is your bait, the first paragraph is your hook. Make the bait big and tasty, make the first paragraph catchy. A poster is primarily an advert for you. Secondarily, it's an advert for your ...

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What to do if assignment is against student's religion?
24 votes

It's not the job of places of learning to give way to superstition. Indeed, quite the reverse: the whole Enlightenment Project was about bringing light into darkness, and all the Academia I'm familiar ...

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Is a research thesis (report) with zero contribution to human knowledge acceptable?
Accepted answer
23 votes

The question as currently asked is: Is a research thesis (report) with zero contribution to human knowledge acceptable? And the answer to that question is no. A thesis or portfolio submitted for a ...

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Etiquette when talking to a researcher whose work you do not think highly of
23 votes

"Thank you for your useful contribution to the field" seems to be a popular opening in such cases. And as it might be you, rather than the author, who's got it wrong, then proceeding by the Socratic ...

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What is the difference between a PhD degree and a DSc degree?
Accepted answer
22 votes

It depends on the university and the country. In England, a PhD is typically awarded for a thesis and oral examination of the thesis, usually followed by implementation of corrections to the thesis, ...

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Handling editor sent me a review invitation
22 votes

Yes, it's a sign that they don't think you're a complete crank. That may not sound like progress, but it is a good thing nevertheless. It doesn't mean anything else about the handling of your own ...

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