I am a 4th year Ph.D. Student. After submitting my first paper 6 months ago, I have been continuing that research. I have a lot of new methods and results, and I am almost ready to start writing again.

How do I know if I should split my research into two papers or write a single comprehensive paper? If I choose to split, how do I decide where best to split the two papers?

Without going into too much detail, I have a method that explains the causes of a fairly well studied phenomenon. I can show that there are four distinct causes of this phenomenon and explain the relative importance of each cause in different situations. If I split my research into papers 1 and 2, the conclusions of paper 1 may seem vague and inconclusive. If I combine my research into a single paper, it may be quite long and rambling. I want to choose a path that minimizes both of these problems.

My mental model for the situation is a tipi. Some of the concepts in that I need to write about have to lean on one another for support, like the tent poles of a tipi. If there are not enough concepts (or tent poles) the rest of the concepts fall short of a real conclusion; The tipi will fall over the first time there is a strong wind. There are clusters of mutually supporting concepts that I can split off into separate papers, but I have a few unique ways to divide these concepts into clusters. I suspect that any of these individual clusters will be less stable and robust that all of the concepts built into a single paper, but maybe I am just being a paranoid perfectionist.

How can I frame my dilemma to help me make this decision? What question should I ask myself to find the right balance?

The situation maybe a little bit unusual, and I am asking for your opinion.

I have taught an undergraduate course on differential geometry of curves and surfaces last Fall semester. One of the students in my class, whom I think is really bright, told me that he found the proof of a certain well known theorem is a little bit hard to understand. We had some discussion on it, but I was quite busy so I wasn’t paying too much attention on it, so we didn’t get any good conclusion.

Recently I was revising my lecture notes and I was reminded of his question. Then he and I found that no fewer than three books (two textbooks and a research monograph) give wrong proofs of that theorem. We are quite satisfied with what we found, and his question was settled. Then he asked whether we should write a paper on this issue and submit it to some undergraduate research journal, like Involve. At first I didn’t think it was a good idea because finding a mistake of a proof of a theorem in three books isn’t really a big deal, and I told him we could send an email to the authors of those books about the mistakes. But then I think his idea might not be as bad as it seems to be because, essentially, when an undergrad can find some mistakes in well-known textbooks that (it seems to me that) nobody can find, it means something to me. My concern is I don’t know even if we are talking about an undergraduate research journal, do the editors think it’s certainly not worth a try or the opposite?

On the math side of that theorem, those three books use the same techniques but with different assumptions (or you may want to call simplifications). However, the proof in each of those books have different mathematical mistakes (i.e., not just some simple typos). So far we only found one textbook which gives a correct proof. The other books which contain a correct proof of this theorem are either too sketchy/wordy or those books are research monographs.

Since I have no experience on writing a paper based on the “discovery” of this nature, any comment is welcome. On one hand I think it’s something to an undergrad student and on the other hand, I am not sure about what the editors think.

Thank you.

Imagine this scenario: you’re in an exam. Somebody asks for your help to answer a question. You help them (whisper the answer, slip them a note, whatever). You get caught. You get punished.

That’s fine. You’re not allowed to help others cheat. You broke the rules. The university is liable to punish you. All of this makes perfect sense so far.


In my experience, it is often the case that this student who, remember, did not cheat on their own exam, often receives a punishment directly related to that exam, i.e. they fail the exam.

This does not seem to make any sense at all. The wrongdoing of the student has nothing to do with their performance on the exam. They did not cheat. Therefore, their exam is a separate thing entirely, and punishing them by failing them seems like an arbitrary thing to do.

Let me give you an example. Say a student punches a teacher. Would this student ever receive a punishment like “oh now you have failed your exam in Abstract Algebra!”?

No. The punishent will be general (suspension, etc), but the exams are not touched.

So, in the above example, why is the student who helped others cheat being punished on their exam, when their exam performance involved no cheating at all? What is the justification for this?

I (very) recently completed a Real Analysis course at my university. One day during the course I went to see my lecturer regarding an error I spotted in his notes.

The notes set for our course were written and typed up by our lecturer. Upon verifying this error my lecturer opened up the source .tex files for his notes and corrected the error and recompiled the notes in front of me (he was sitting down at his desk and I was standing next to him).

As someone who’s used to typing up stuff in TexStudio I was very intrigued by what LaTeX editor he was using as it seemed like something I never saw before, and honestly it seemed like the ideal LaTeX editor setup at first glance. I thought of asking him at the time but I assumed that I would be crossing some boundary.

Fast forward to now, and I have quite a good relationship with this (now former) lecturer of mine, having completed his course just a few weeks ago.

Would it be frowned upon if I sent him an email asking him what his LaTeX editor setup is? (I’m assuming it’s Emacs with auctex and with some sort of custom theme). Would any lecturer consider this as an invasion of privacy or crossing some boundary?

A month ago I applied for a postdoc in a renowned institute in my field. Through the process of evaluating the different candidates, an assessment was performed by other professors from the same institute but from a different team.

An assessment here means a paragraph written by someone in the field but not the potential PI that summaries the candidate studies and experience and ends with: qualified or not qualified for the job.

My assessment was very positive so I reached the interview stage but at the end I didn’t get the job. Two weeks later the professor that wrote my assessment published a postdoc position ad, and I’m very interested in the offer. The institute is famous in my field and the position fits with both my expertise and interest.

Question: Do you think that applying for this postdoc position only after few weeks will be regarded negatively by this professor? Do you think that I will look like someone who wants to work in the institute no matter what?

I began my PhD in September 2017 as a part-time student and have recently (May 2018) switched over to full-time studies. I am trying very hard to understand what it is like to be a PhD student, and how should I go about thinking about it and putting myself in that mindset. Essentially, what I would like to ask you all is, what mindset should I have while working on my PhD, and what are some mental exercises/tips that I can meditate on to reach that mindset? Thanks in advance for your help!

I have the possibility to organize a special track/session at a small computer science conference, however at the moment I’m in the last year of my PhD study.

The special session includes an introduction presentation (related to an editorial) by the organizer (me in this case), some accepted papers presentations, and an “Open Discussion and Closing Remarks” chaired by me as well.

Although I believe to have enough expertise/general knowledge on the topic of the session, do you think it’d be appropriate for me as a PhD student to do this? Or is everyone expecting a doctorate or a professor to organize such sessions?

I’m at the stage of my PhD where I’m beginning to write my thesis.

At the beginning of my PhD, my supervisor asked me to go back and repeat some work done by the student who had the project before me. This was meant to be a ‘breaking in gently’ exercise, but ended up taking over 18 months because of missing data and incorrect conclusions necessitating things to essentially be redeveloped from scratch. I think in fairness there was a certain degree of naivety on the part of my supervisor not realising how long things take – he’s quite hands off, especially in recent years as he got elected to become head of the school.

That said, this situation has caused a fair deal of conflict over the last 4 years. My supervisor resents the fact that I spent so much time not ‘getting anywhere’, and I resent wasting a large proportion of my funding not really doing anything useful (the previous work has been published, and my new contributions don’t deviate so significantly to warrant an additional publication). The whole situation is compounded by the fact that the student in question was the ‘golden girl’ of the lab, so any criticism of her work falls on deaf ears (its something of an in-joke within the group, as the girl in question is generally understood not to be terribly great in the lab).

I recently gave a draft of a few chapters to my supervisor, and without reading them fully he immediately asked them to be re-written to avoid any criticism of the previous work, citing me as the issue, rather than the previous work (multiple people have verified the mistakes with the previous work).

I’m unsure of what to do, and would welcome some advice. I don’t really need my supervisor at this point as I already have a job and don’t need his permission to submit, but at the same time would like to ameliorate the issue to reach some kind of compromise. Equally, I don’t want to yield to his will, as after wasting 18 months fixing the previous work, I want to tell the story.

To clarify, and as I can’t comment – my supervisor wants me to ignore the entire 18 months of work. For obvious reasons this is undesirable.