Science Professor

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No Jerks Allowed, with some exceptions

A reader ponders yet another mystery of advising, in this case graduate students: One of the prospective grad students who would likely have worked with me if he had come to my institution accepted another offer instead. That's fine but I heard later that my current students were very relieved that he didn't accept our offer because they thought the...

Fuzzy COI

A reader who is/was acting as guest-editor for a special issue of a journal wrote to ask some questions about whether s/he could solicit manuscripts from certain colleagues, advisors (past/present) etc. My opinion: s/he could solicit manuscripts from colleagues etc. but not act as editor for manuscripts involving them. Another editor should handle those...

How Many Times

How many times can a professor use outside offers to negotiate retention packages at their university? I don't know, but a reader who is possibly in a position to get their second outside offer asked me this question. This person's first offer was early (tenure-track), but that was a while ago, so this person is not a habitual collector of outside offers....

Losing by Speaking Up

A reader wonders, based in part on this discussion (on Bob Sutton's blog), about differences in how much men and women talk in professional settings, and how they are perceived as a result. In a nutshell, some studies have shown that talking a lot seems to benefit men but may be detrimental to women; for example, in the context of whether someone is...

Works Not Well With Others

A reader wonders about the boundary between immersion and self-centered approach in research. Is it possible to be too focused on your research in a way that is seen as "self-centered" rather than collaborative and collegial? Yes, of course, but context matters. In this particular case, I think the individual (a research scientist) needs to clarify...

Token Award

This week, let's talk about the rewards of diversity: Some departments, schools, professional organizations, and so on have awards that are specifically for women, such as an award by one of the societies in my field for an outstanding female PhD student. As far as I can tell, these are not very prestigious awards and don't come with a lot of money....

I Used to Be Nicer

Does anyone share this advisor-angst?: When I was an assistant professor and establishing my research group, it was difficult for me to recruit excellent PhD students. I define "excellent student" as someone both willing and able to do PhD-level research, although I know there is a lot of subjectivity in that. I understood that many students didn't...

Promote Yourself

An interesting question/topic from a reader; touched on before in previous posts, but worth a revisit: I would love if you posted on active self-promotion in the sciences... that is, the idea of specifically and intentionally promoting yourself and your work to others in your field.  In my field, this is almost a faux pas because "the science speaks...

Mentoring Madness

In my recent column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, on the topic of Mid-Career Mentoring, one of the comments cast aspersions on mentors and mentoring. I wanted to follow up on this point here and probe the opinions of blog-readers. The specific comment includes this statement: "Mentoring," I learned, is an intense form of the summer camp buddy-system...

Academic Fish Ponds

This is a recent e-mail from a reader, but it's a topic I was thinking about in a related context, so this is timely (for me): I'm a grad student in a respectable PhD program in the physical sciences here in the U.S. (ranked by U.S. News as either in the low teens to mid-20s, depending on the particular year of the ranking).  I didn't realize until...

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