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This subreddit is for discussing academic life, and for asking questions directed towards people involved in academia, (both science and humanities).

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Questions and Discussion for Academics

This subreddit is for discussing academic life, and for asking questions directed towards people involved in academia, (both science and humanities).

Feel free to post interesting links within self-posts. Posts that will invoke critical thinking and healthy discussion are especially welcome.

Your post should comprise a question (albeit potentially an open-ended one) and must contain sufficient information to enable posters to provide an effective answer. This might include, for example, your career stage, your subject discipline, the type of institution you're affiliated with, and/or the country you're in. Mods may delete posts which do not provide enough context.

Questions from current and former undergraduates, graduates, PhDs, post-docs, professors and laymen all welcome!

Questions about your uncontrollable desire for your student/professor will be deleted. You know it's inappropriate, and we're not going to tell you any different. Your university probably has confidential counseling; make use of it.

Questions about what university you should attend will be referred to /r/college. And questions about graduate admissions will be referred to /r/gradadmissions. Both are better resources on those subjects.

Code of conduct
If a reasonable person wouldn't say it to a professor/colleague/conference speaker they don't know well, it's probably over the line. This includes off-topic and unproductive discussion as well as rudeness.

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Independent Researcher

I'm starting to write a journal article, (although my outlines could potentially fill a book, but that's a separate discussion). However, I'm uncertain about what steps to take afterward. As an independent researcher, I'm unsure of how to proceed with publishing.

1 Comment
07:59 UTC


AAAS Science Magazine Oldies

Hello, I am not sure if this is where I post this but I need help or advice on trying to find cool old articles on AAAS science archive that include some of the biggest discoveries in science and the articles that are published and so on and so forth. Especially things like the model of the atom changing and the Manhattan Project.

06:49 UTC


How big of an industry is higher education?

According to KingsResearch, the global higher education market was valued at USD 506.54 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 860.11 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.03% from 2023 to 2030.

05:37 UTC


Is it normal for professors to look through homework from classes years ago for cheating?

I recently received an email from a professor for a class two years ago accusing me of cheating on homework. It makes no sense to me because I didn’t copy anyone. Do professors go through old assignments like that?

03:39 UTC


Papers not clearly stating strong assumptions in the main text but rather in the appendix.

I recently came across a published paper related to what I am currently working on. I read the main paper, and they seem to propose a theorem for a problem that I have been stuck on for weeks. The detailed proof of the theorem was deferred to the appendix. Today, I decided to look at the detailed proof in the appendix and saw a very strong assumption that makes the theory very limited or trivial. I am surprised the reviewers didn't mention it; maybe no one checks the appendix.

My question is, how common is this? I know it's probably field-dependent, but how common is it for papers to leave something that is a big deal or might make it appear trivial out of the main paper?

1 Comment
02:29 UTC


How are you supposed to land opportunities in college?

I graduated from college, and I didn’t get much from the last four years. I felt I wasted my tuition. I got rejected from every club, didn’t get good grades despite using every academic support available at my university, and couldn’t land any research or internship positions. I am now graduating with nothing and no jobs. What was I supposed to do differently?

01:48 UTC


Published review paper includes incorrect data in supplemental material

Hi everyone!

I found a review paper helpful to my PhD subject and so I went digging in their supplemental material for the information of interest to me and am shocked at the fact that it's straight up wrong. It's one of those tables from review papers where they list the citations of the studies they included along with the values they extracted from those studies. The global mean value they report is orders of magnitude out of whack and when I consulted some of the studies they listed in the table, the values this review reported in their table sometimes match the values reported in the primary literature, but are mostly wrong (ie. taken from the wrong places or just random numbers I have no idea were they came from). Just SOOO frustrating I wasted so much time trying to figure out where this crazy large mean value they found came from and now this paper is useless to me because it makes zero sense.

Do you think it's worth it to email the corresponding author about it, and maybe see if they have a correct version of the supplemental file or if they can go back and correct it?

01:47 UTC


Academic misconduct accusation

Help I’m really freaking out. I think I completely messed up on one of my essays. It’s been flagged for “concerns regarding sources” but they refuse to give me more details on the issue until I come face to face with them in the meeting. But I want to be prepared. Any help?

For more info: don’t ask me how but I was a complete moron and didn’t do any referencing. I do philosophy, and some essays seem more “common sense” (ie, I can more easily come up with my own counterarguments). So when it came to referencing, I stupidly didn’t give it any thought because there were no direct quotes or references anyway. The only thing I really should have referenced anyway is the actual article I was analysing.

What’s likely to be the main issue here? They haven’t formally accused me yet, so I’m hoping there’s some leeway. What should I say in my defence?

01:16 UTC


Citation score for 2023 significantly down

Hi everyone, I know there's a field related element here (i'm in genetics/micro), but I've noticed in my, and a few other academics in my field, research profile, my citation score last year was only slightly higher than 2020 and that it peaked in 2022. I would hope I haven't reached a plateau, it's just that my citation trajectory has basically been a linear upwards, until last year, and this year is also tracking to be around the same as last year...

Is it me? Am I the problem?

Or is it a whole "yet another weird side effect of two years out of the lab with COVID" kind of deal?

I mean I guess a part of the problem could be that I'm basically an EMCR researcher and I didn't publish in 2021...

01:02 UTC


Letter of Recommendation Advice

I have been applying to many grad school programs for CS that require at least three recommendation letters with two of them being from academic. I was able to get it from one professor, but I still need one more letter of recommendation letter from a professor. I have reached out to many, and it leads to the majority with no response and a few rejections just because they don't know me that well. I was hoping to get one from a professor who I TA a class for, but no response. Any advice or suggestions to get at least a response for a letter of recommendation request from professors?

1 Comment
00:49 UTC


Switching university after postdoc - Federal Funding?

If you know you would like to work at a different university (in the U.S.) after your postdoc, how and when do you apply for NIH research funding? Do some reseachers just wait until they are hired as assistant professors to obtain funding? I conduct health research and have some mentorship lined up at another university in the location where I would like to be in the future. Due to institutional support playing a role in funding, it doesn't seem like I can apply for a K award while still in my postdoc knowing I will be moving on to a different university.

1 Comment
00:16 UTC


First-gen folks: How do you deal with your family?

I was the first person in my family to even think about attending university, let alone go to grad school. My family is working class. My mom is also an immigrant (although I now live in her country of origin). While supportive of my academic aspirations, she's never understood the reality of it.

My mom is convinced that getting a PhD means I will have endless job opportunities and views my future through unbelievably rose colored glasses. Although I appreciate the support and understand her inclination to view things positively, it's difficult to level with her about my actual odds of getting tenure. It's even more difficult to explain what tenure is and why I want it. When I talk about my frustrations and difficulties, I want her to commiserate with me, but she simply can't understand what's going on despite my attempts to explain. The conversation always turns to her misconceptions about how academia works. Aside from being frustrating for me, I also fear she is developing unrealistic expectations as to what my future holds.

Then there's also the fact that everyone in my family works hard to make ends meet in relatively physically-demanding jobs. My mom has been a factory worker my entire life. While I'm acutely aware of the differences in the types of labor we do, her experiences lead to a devaluation of my work. If I'm stressed, overworked, etc., the response is almost always that I should be grateful I'm not lugging around boxes and have access to opportunities she never did. And I am! But that doesn't mean my life is without problems. However, if we're putting difficulties on the scale, her side always wins out. Adding to this is that she simply can't conceive of what I actually do. When I talk to her about publishing a journal article or conducting ethnographic research abroad, the labor that goes into that isn't something she's able to wrap her head around. She stopped school at 16 and just doesn't have a sense of what academia is.

I do my best not to develop resentment, but it's very difficult not being able to level with her. It's also an absolute mindfuck to see my mega-wealthy peers (I've attended quite prestigious institutions) turn to their parents for advice on selecting courses, applying to fellowships, securing grants, polishing dissertations, etc. Not only do these peers have a practical resource at their proposal which I can't fathom having access to, but the people in their life understand.

How do you guys navigate these conversations and relationships? Have you just learned to accept the fact that things are the way they are? That's the point I'm getting to, but it feels like more and more of my life is something I can't talk to my mom about. She doesn't even know what I research! She doesn't know (or perhaps care) to ask and when I bring it up myself to try and include, she changes the topic (perhaps because she doesn't understand it entirely and/or is a bit insecure and embarrassed about our educational differences). And I really do put a lot of effort into communicating it in an accessible way. I thought I got over my whole first-gen imposter mess during my BA, but it's something I just can't shake.

23:47 UTC


wanting to get my masters, but it has to be an online program covered by my employer. are any of these schools respected?

I'm a working mom wanting to get my masters, most likely an MBA with a concentration in Human resources. I got my undergrad years a go at a brick and motor school, but that's not really an option now due to my schedule with work and my kids. I do not really know a lot about these online schools and I do not want to end up signing up for a joke school or one that is not going to actually look at least alright on my resume, so I thought I'd ask if anyone had any information they could share as to whether any of these schools are worth looking into or if they are scam schools that wont help me further my career.

Purdue Global

University of Massachusetts Global

Bellevue University

LSU Online

The University of Arizona

I was originally leaning towards getting an MBA from Purdue Global, but I'm worried that since its not the brick and mortar that it'll be less respected and be a waste of time.

any advice or help would be greatly appreciated

22:40 UTC


Copyright agreement for publishing code?

I generally publish all my code on Github using the most permissive license possible, trusting that my colleagues the world over will act in good faith and in the spirit of collaboration. Big mistake on my part, but I won't go into details here.

Can anybody recommend a good open access license that is slightly more restrictive? In principle I want my colleagues to be able to download and use the code to do as they see fit, but with the caveat that they should contact the author of the code (me) to ask for permission before republishing the code somewhere else.

22:18 UTC


Failing Honors Chem in 10th Grade (help)

If you're reading this, please help me, this will only take 2 minutes to read.

I don't know what's going on with me honestly, nothing is going right in my life. I don't know how, but my relationship with myself, my friends, and my parents is very very very weak, almost non-existent.

I was a straight A student in freshman year, but then I lost ALL of my motivation to work in sophomore year :(

I'm failing Honors chemistry this year, I have a 59.

I live in the US, the passing grade is 60.

I'm doing okay in my other classes, but I have been so so depressed because of Hchem, I cry myself to sleep, I think and feel like I am the dumbest person in the world, I have suicidal thoughts.

It's really bad, and this is all because of Hchem.

I asked my school counselor about what to do, and she said that I now have 2 ways.

  1. I take the class in the summer online, putting it as a New Credit. With this, the colleges won't know that I failed a course, and I can replace the grade I get in online class with the grade I got before and get a new transcript. This only works if I have less than a 60. Which I do, knowing this made me feel a little better. This is a longer method (I don't care, because colleges won't know). This will be counted as a standard chemistry though. (again, don't care)
  2. I take the class in the summer online, putting it as a Recovery. This means that colleges will know that I failed a course. This is a shorter method.

So now I'm thinking that the finals are coming in a week, so I just won't study for them, so that I can fail it. Then I can go through new credit and the colleges won't find out. Getting an A in a standard course is much better than getting a D (60-69) in an honors course.

My question is this: What should I do? Should I not study for the final?

Asked the same question to my counselor, she said she can't tell me to fail legally since she's a school counselor.

Please tell me what you guys think(asap).

I didn't tell my parents about the D in chem and the 2 plans yet, I'm Indian, they are strict, after honors chem I will have to worry about them. Should I wait until after the final to tell them? or should I tell them now? how can I possibly break this news? I just don't know.

Thank you so much for reading, I am so sorry this is so long.

22:05 UTC


TT faculty--advice/insight

I am TT faculty at a high ranking university (top 10). Still on tenure clock. I am in my 5th yr. I started my job with multiple grants. There is still so much pressure to get more grants to secure renewal/appointment every year. I cannot disconnect from work, because if I do I fall behind. I have shitty lab staff, because I am relatively new, as a result of which I have to do most of the data analysis, and prepare manuscripts and be present when critical experiments are being done. I do like the job profile, and the work, but I really feel overworked. Currently I am expecting a baby as a single parent, and I realize I am so much underpaid. After putting in so much work, almost 18 hrs/day of my time, I am not really in a position even to purchase a $500K house. My salary will dry up paying for childcare. And this is at an institution which boasts of great pay-scale. How do other TT faculty manage? Are we supposed to be lower middle class rest of our lives? Should I reconsider my career path?

21:41 UTC


Is it inappropriate to send a YouTube video to your professor?


Is it weird if I sent my physics prof a video of using cheese to visualize standing waves in a microwave?

I thought she might find it funny, so I emailed it to her.

Thanks, Someone with poor social skills and autism

Edit: This is physics 3, and we are studying waves. The Youtube short is related to class material since it is about visualizing standing waves using cheese

Link to the video lol https://youtube.com/shorts/EfI8YxkU1ow?si=iJGeOJLK5ODsAK2L

20:38 UTC


Do conferences typically accept scoping reviews?

If relevant, I am asking for within the field of medical and health sciences.

(I am not the one hoping to present a scoping review, but I have to make a decision based on it)

20:25 UTC


How to reskill or career pivot as an academic?

I'm junior research staff at a university, with a PhD in Communications earned in 2020. I have been trying to find other opportunities so that I can work in a research capacity remotely. However, no matter how many applications I send out, I am not getting job offers. Aside from working in a remote research job, I would also like to expand my skills and branch out to something like computational social science.

I want to get more formal quantitative training, as it doesn't come across strongly in my coursework or degree type. However, I'm in a weird position. I was never a "math kid", and in spite of having grad level statistics courses and stats in my dissertation, I lack any algebra or calc courses.

So... do I start from the beginning to get more quant background? Maybe get an AS or something? I'm genuinely unsure.

I'm hoping that this can serve me in a few ways: 1. that it will make it more explicit to any industry opportunities I have a quant background, and 2. give me a solid background to extend my research into new areas.

17:25 UTC


Hi, may I kindly get some information where I can find educational research job postings worldwide?

I want to find a paid PhD position or research associate (I have an M.Ed in Dev Psych) and has worked as research associate and have published journal papers and book chapter. I would love to find educational research jobs from anywhere in the world (preferrably Europe, US/Canada, Australia/NZ)? And the employer doesn't have to be a university, it could be research institutes, education NGOs etc.. thank you.

1 Comment
17:08 UTC


Highest Paid Adjunct Professor Per Course?

So this is totally another pay question. We all know the low Adjunct Pay per course, what’s the highest? Who’s the highest paid adjunct out there?

14:21 UTC


what does that mean ''The submission must be resubmitted for another review round.''

Thanks everyone for helping...

what does that mean ''The submission must be resubmitted for another review round.'' and the email said ''Our decision is to: Resubmit for Review'' and nothing else? no more details or reviewers' comments, I am really confused as there are no revision requests, also should I resubmit as a new submission or just add to the revision tab? and should I edit the paper or just resubmit the same one again?

Thanks for your help

09:35 UTC


Time Use Diaries - what tool to use if academia hates Google Docs?

I'm a researcher in the UK launching a small-scale study which asks participants to complete diaries for 3 months about a couple of key aspects of their lives. The aim is to understand how these two aspects change over time and how much time they take up. I'm trying to work out what software/whatever to use to get them to collect this. I'll definitely give them the option of doing it on paper (and sending me photos of them weekly in case they lose them) but I want to offer a digital option too. I can't pay for high end software, and I also don't need them to track everything - just these two aspects - so I don't think I need the functionality of things like CaDDI.

I've been wondering about using Google Docs and making an Excel in there for each person, but a lot of academia views Google Docs as insecure...Does anyone have any suggestions for what might be a good alternative? I'd really value any suggestions.

09:19 UTC


New humanities PhD student, please help me figure out what software I should be using!

I am a very recently enrolled PhD student and currently trying to get to grips with what software I should be using for my general every day workflow. I mainly need something to help with my article reading and organising (history - so there is a LOT of it). I have heard from others in my cohort that Zotero is useful but currently all I am doing is storing the basic citation details down in it, not to read or edit my PDFS, which I am just doing through my default PDF viewer on my PC and all articles are stored in google drive. My original way of doing things was a google doc where I would write notes, citation details etc but it is getting so long and I can't add tags to find anything.

I am not the most tech savvy and currently feel like there MUST be a better way, my way is so long winded and eating up time I should be spending actually reading. Any advice would be really appreciated. I feel so overwhelmed.

06:19 UTC


What should I do for Graduation?

Basically, I have no problems with graduation, but I had an argument with my mom about her not wanting to buy me more stuff. I said I wouldn't get anything if I didn't have to go and she agreed. The thing is for graduation we have to sing a song and we only have like 20 students, so it would be so obvious that I didn't go. If i don't go to graduation, I won't be going to the graduation dance in which my class prepared a whole dance. If im gone, then the whole class would be affected, but I don't want to beg my mom to go to graduation. I know I won't regret missing graduation because I have seen my sisters and it is such a waste of time, but the effects of me not going is enough for me to get bombarded with questions from my teachers. I would also rather die than go to graduation or the dance without any more stuff, which is why i got into the argument in the first place and me not wanting to go. I REALLY don't want to go, butttttt. Also my mom at first didn't allow me to skip graduation but yaa she doesn't care anymore, soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo what do I do?????

04:31 UTC


Does this data from my department seem suspicious?

For context, I am a PhD student at a large reputable R1 school in the U.S. in a very applied STEM field, for which industry jobs are common and pay much better than academia.

I asked one of our department secretaries for data on the career paths of graduating PhD students. They started offering the PhD in 2008 and have graduated just over 200 PhD's since then. 26% of of them are now in tenured or tenure-track roles.

I always see the "3%" number thrown around on this sub - that 3% of PhD graduates eventually land a TT role. Even in STEM, I often see this number estimated at 9-10%. Does it seem outlandish that 26% of our department's graduates are landing TT roles? Especially when considering that somewhere around half of the people in my program aren't even trying to go into academia - many of them just want industry jobs anyways.

This would imply that half or slightly more than half of students in my program who want a TT role are able to land one. And this just seems like a very far cry from what I tend to hear on this sub.

As for the prestige of my school's specific department/program in my field - it's reputable. Not top 5, but easily top 20 in the U.S. and a case could probably be made for top 10.

02:43 UTC


Best place to buy doctoral regalia?

Starting my first TT job this fall and was just told there’s an event at the beginning of the semester I need to attend in full regalia. Where’s the most cost effective place to purchase this? My department let me borrow regalia for my own graduation, so I own nothing. At the university I received my PhD the gown alone is $800. I’ve been told I should at least purchase the hood from my university but that the other pieces could come from other sources.

00:58 UTC


Lab Tech Job Interview follow up

Hi, I had an interview for a biology lab/research tech position at an Ivy league school about a week ago. It was the PI who interviewed me directly. In the interview we brought up work-life balance and she mentioned how busy she was all the time because she is a researcher, but also a practicing MD, etc, but that doesn't apply to me etc.

Anyways, my queation is this: is it rude/pushy to follow up after a week reiterating my interest in the position? I don't want to be annoying. I realize I should have followed up within 24 hours, but 🤷‍♂️.

23:12 UTC


How to report someone who increased their citations unethically?

Hello all, fellow PhD researcher here. Without giving away too much personal information, I recently found out of my colleagues paid someone to get their citation count up. Apparently this a service provided by unethical agents.

My mind is racing with questions

  1. Is there any way to look at someones citations and figure out if they are 'fraudulent'? Is that possible, or is there really no way of telling?

  2. Can I report him to someone? For reasons... my own university is out of question (he just confided.. or say 'bragged' to me. He'd know it's me)

I'd really like to look at his citations and try to figure out which one are fake.. so I can make a better report. Help me in what ways can we do that?

23:01 UTC


Missed a deadline for an annual conference — is this a big deal for your career when you are on the stage of promoting yourself?

I just realized that I missed the deadline for a national conference that fits in my research field.

I’m in a stage that I want to sell my research out (personal and institutional branding) and establish professional connections. Also I’m planning to be on academia job market this year.

I don’t think people go to conferences exactly every year. For this conference it’s probably also similar-ish group of people showing up plus several new faces. But I’m also worried about missing a good chance for losing potential opportunities.

Have you been in the same experience before? Does it actually cause negative influence on you/your career or it doesn’t really matter on the long run?

17:34 UTC

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