*I’m applying for Psychology PhD.

There’s a university that I am applying to but unlike some of the other universities I’ve found, where students can state their desired advisor, this university accepts students based on a collective decision and assigns you an initial advisor.

There were articles and questions on what to ask during PhD interviews, but not many for programs that do not give you the freedom of pick and choosing the lab you wish to work in.

What are some good questions to ask during the interview for a program that does not give you this option?
Since it’s the collective department accepting you, are there any useful ways to spot potential ‘red flags’?

Thank you in advance to those who read and answer this question

I am an undergrad physics student and my research experience has mainly been in the field of Condensed Matter Physics. Through the experience I have come to realize that it is not what I want to continue with and wish to change my specialization when I apply for my masters. If I were to contact an advisor from a field different from the one I have some experience working in to join a group for say a Research Masters, will the experience (despite it being in a different field) work in my favour?

I’ve spent the last several months poking around independently in the concepts and practical aspects of large-scale collaboration, and I’ve gotten to a point where I feel I could benefit greatly from the more structured approach of a university. Googling around for “Collaboration Science”, however, only yields one result, an MBA program from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This is nice, but the program as a whole doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

What I’d like to find is a University (US or International) that offers a graduate program in the science of collaboration. I envision this to be a focus that combines elements of systems thinking and design with the social sciences and technology to improve the way humans work together in groups in a variety of contexts (small, large, geographically near or highly distributed, anonymous or highly familiar, etc.).

I am a new STEM faculty member at a primarily undergraduate institution. I emailed my students (through the school-mandated online course management system) before the beginning of the term about the availability of the syllabus online, as well as other things. Several students told me that they hadn’t checked their emails and didn’t know where to find the syllabus. I have also sent emails to students about their testing accommodations, only to learn that the students hadn’t read my email to them even though it concerned an upcoming quiz.

Would it be inappropriate for me to make a general announcement in class that it is important for students to check their school email accounts frequently, as that is how I plan on communicating with them? I certainly won’t call out any students or mention any specific scenarios that prompted this announcement.


I think now is the time to open up and mention only few number of the things that I have been through so far during my PhD studies at this university under the supervision of Dr. A. His latest email, copying school’s police department, manifests another level of his unprofessional actions that has often times caused me emotional distress. Here are few examples of how I have been treated during last 6-7 years:

I was accepted into the graduate program in 2009 and started being paid with Navy grant. I was assigned by Dr. A. to start up an experimental project with few undergrad students to prove the experimental work. During the whole time, I was treated like a janitorial worker at the pool or was asked to build random things such as the frame for exoskeleton one summer with limited tools and resources that could possibly hurt me physically. My time, energy and efforts in about 3 years had been wasted for a project which later seemed not enough for Dr. A. as a potential PhD project. The interesting question is that how a project that got the best conference talk in session in DSCC becomes reduced to a random project with no potential to be part of my PhD thesis.

You could imagine that PhD project by itself is a stressful and time consuming process and can’t be accompanied without funding for a long time! While I was struggling with financial problems since there was not funding, I’ve never mentioned it ro even complained to Dr. A. and tried to keep working full-time on the project respectfully and in a very committed manner. Surprisingly, he has recently published a paper in IEEE journal completely ignoring my contribution to this work in summer of 2014 on both theoretical and numerical levels. I ask that my name be added to this paper as a co-author and it has to be part of my PhD dissertation proposal.

Not being paid any assistantship for a while, I was told by Dr. A. that I need to do TA work that only supported the tuition in 2014 while I had passed all PhD generals and was supposed to complete the thesis and being prepared for the defense. Since Fall of 2015, he has refused to sign up my registration forms and I have not had any access to any of journals, papers and even MATLAB resources since I had no active student status while working on the project independently. I had to ask kind individuals at other institutions or even other countries to download journal materials and send it to me which has been a torture and time consuming experience. I also had to go to UPenn and work with a friend of mine to run some Matlab simulations!

So far, I’ve twice submitted completely-typed proposals to Dr. A.. He decided not to spend his precious time to read or review them! His main statements have been “don’t waste my time” or “go and prove whatever you want and come back when you proved it independently from me” but later “I don’t have time to read it”. My question is that how is it ethical for a professor, whose job is to train the grad students, stating “I don’t have time to read your proposal and don’t waste my time”. Obviously, I self-trained myself to move the project and his recent reaction is why I was DISAPPEARED again during the summer. When you treat someone poorly how do you expect one to show up to your office. Exactly at the time point that I was working day and night for the project this summer jeopardizing my health, and I had a lot of theoretical improvements and he is trying to ignore it for another time, perhaps covering a fact or hoping for me to give up my dream and walk out of the program.

In 2015, because of his unprofessional attitude, I even decided to come up with a new research proposal, he laughed at me and said he has done the same exact thing with his previous PhD student. It was a completely false statement since I had two expert researchers in the field look at my proposal before submitting it to Dr. A. . The proposal was on heart irregularities, a novel research with a statistically significant patients’ data, where the other student had worked on brain-related things with no significance results. Feeling stuck in the limbo, I talked to you last year hoping for a better solution than continuing with him as my advisor. At the time I even considered changing advisers but his colleagues didn’t want to jeopardize their relationship with him and refused to respond to my requests. And this is an evidence that it was supposed to be ordered from your side at the time.

Dr. J., I didn’t give up on my dream with all difficulties, financial problems and Dr. A.’s insulting attitude and comments toward me all these years passing all the credits needs for the PhD program as well as passing the PhD exams. However, I will not tolerate this anymore and will take it seriously. I have co-authored few publications so far and I am completing a new work soon. I demand to be able to defend my proposal ASAP and soon after my PhD thesis to receive my doctorate degree since I think I have earned it. I’m hoping you could help me to accelerate this process with a better peaceful solution for all of us, and I no longer feel safe to even set foot in school with this latest harsh incident.

Thank you for time and consideration

In every university that I know, doctorate (and very commonly master’s) students are expected to do a number of things which I would categorize as work, related to the operation of the faculty, such as:

  1. correcting exams
  2. supervising exams
  3. supervising undergraduates in lab exercises, answering questions, usually organizing groups and lab exams
  4. teaching lectures on the methodology for exercises of a course
  5. various errands for the professor (I won’t get into detail in this, as it’s clearly immoral in my opinion)

From what I have heard, those practices are common in Greece. Every PhD student that I know has no official salary from the university, and may get paid from certain research funds for particular projects that he has to complete/contribute to from outside sources. According to the regulations in Greek universities, Master’s and above students are obliged to provide “auxiliary work” without this being specified further.

Given the fact that correcting exams is actual work, isn’t it immoral to do it without monetary compensation?

I am a PhD student and I have been contacted today by some other PhD student with a very odd request. He is from a different university in a different country and I don’t know him at all. He is asking me to review his own paper before submitting it to some journal. Is this a common thing to ask? What is the best response in this case?

Is there any research/study/survey/… that looked at the effect of background music in educational videos on the learning outcome?

I am aware of (1) but they focus on educational virtual environments.

(1) Fassbender, Eric, Deborah Richards, Ayse Bilgin, William Forde Thompson, and Wolfgang Heiden. “VirSchool: The effect of background music and immersive display systems on memory for facts learned in an educational virtual environment.” Computers & Education 58, no. 1 (2012): 490-500. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=4113404139067026741&hl=en&as_sdt=0,22