I have a friend who is trying hard to establish a connection with a well-known professor at a generally top 5 school for STEM in the U.S. This professor is frequently at some good seminars around the area.

My question is: is it appropriate for my friend to ask out this professor for coffee? She has tried several times – trying to meet him one on one before the start of seminars, some other scheduled times, etc. This may be relevant, so I will note that she is female, and the professor is male.

He has turned my friend down with reasons such as “I’ll be traveling and can’t meet for coffee”, or “sorry, but I won’t be able to make it today.”
Otherwise, the professor answers all of her questions and gives great advice to her, in terms of how to advance in the field. Based on what she tells me, he is very polite and helpful.

Personally, I would never ask a professor out for coffee – let alone try repeatedly, after he or she has said “no” several times. I would email to start some dialogue and perhaps meet in his / her office. So I just want to know whether perhaps I should hint to my friend to stop trying to get him out to coffee and that maybe he’s not so into the idea of letting students schmooze with him one on one.

I wonder if this is sort of specific to the STEM field academia culture, too; e.g. if we were in film school or business school, I think it’d be much more “normal” to ask a professor out to coffee to try and build a relationship.

I recently submitted a manuscript to a journal that focuses on short papers about software packages. One reviewer gave a very detailed (and helpful) critique of my software/paper with one major objection: another package already exists that has similar functionality. S/he mandated that I clarify what my package offers that the other package does not.

Unfortunately, I was not aware of the other software package when I started my project (which I’m pretty embarrassed about). On further inspection, I realize that this other package is far superior to my own in terms of functionality and performance. I’ve come to the conclusion that my project is not salvageable. This is disappointing but not soul crushing as it was a side project that is only tangential to my dissertation work. Frankly, I don’t have time to improve my software to point of being a significant contribution, and I’d only do so for the sake of “getting a publication,” which does not seem fruitful. Improvements wouldn’t be immediately useful to me. and thus I don’t have the motivation to submit a revision.

That said, I’d really like to submit a genuine word of thanks to the anonymous reviewer for their detailed critique of my paper/software. Through their comments and working through a revision I learned a lot (how to use Docker, sharing and recording terminal sessions through
asciinema/asciicast, general improvements to my writing, etc.) Do editors allow authors to respond to reviewers even if their manuscript is essentially rejected? It seems as though editors would generally disallow this since authors responding to a rejection may often want to say something nasty. Would it be best to email the editor directly with my request or respond through the submission system?

I asked a professor I have been working for about a year to write a recommendation letter for graduate school. She agreed but says she usually ask students to write for themselves and she will do some editions on it.

I was supposed to ask her for a template at that time… And now I have no idea how to draft one for myself. Anybody has any advice?

I am an undergraduate who is line for a first author publication in a field I absolutely love, and want to continue my research in the same department. At my school there is a program, I have heard of, that would allow me to get my masters as an undergraduate, and the paperwork requires a signature from the department head. I don’t want to appear as sycophantic a-hole, I come from a very economically disadvantaged background. I am paying for my school, want to continue my research, and eventually obtain a PhD. Basically, I need to know any good suggestions of how to establish a relationship with the department head. I know email is an option to contact the department head, but she doesn’t know me. I have emailed another professor, I said hello to and know his childhood friend, who has been in the same department for 15 years to see if we could get coffee and talk with him about this matter to see if he could introduce me to the department head. Any suggestions of knowing how to connect/establish a relationship with the department head?

I’m a senior undergraduate student who has been working in the same lab for over three years now. Approximately two years ago, my mentor sat me down in his office and described a project to me. He asked if I would want to put forth the work to be first author on the project. I said yes and adopted the project as my primary focus for the next one year and more.

This was never solely my project; there were a few graduate students who would provide guidance and some help with assays. However, I unequivocally did the most work on the project. I played a major role in the writing process and created six of the seven figures. I also presented a poster of this work (on which I was listed as first author) at an international conference.

Now, as we are getting close to submitting, I have found out that my mentor plans to put one of the graduate students on the project in the first author position. He is unaware that I know this. I feel that I can say rather objectively that this student by no means deserves first authorship. In fact, he is well known for his laziness and probably doesn’t even deserve second authorship. The reason this is happening is because he and my mentor are very good friends outside of the lab. The student is frequently granted benefits and immunities because of this.

Please, I would appreciate any advice. I want to confront my boss but I feel this will only injure our relationship which I need intact. My mentor is by far my strongest letter of recommendation for graduate school and I need his compliance to graduate with honors from my university.

The APA style indicates that personal communication should be cited in the format “J. Doe (personal communication, M dd, yyyy)” in-text, without a bibliographic entry. I was wondering what the best solution to citing such an item repeatedly is?


J. Doe (personal communication, August 21, 2017) proposes that concept
X is inherently meaningless without mechanism Y.


Doe (2012, 2015, 2016) presents mechanism Y in terms a, b, c. We could therefore
assume that this predicts concept X to exist independently of Y,
nothwithstanding J. Doe’s (personal communication, August 21, 2017)
objection that doing so would lead to undesired behaviour Z—it is
what strictly follows from the system proposed in Doe (2012, 2015,

Is there a better way to refer to the same personal communication the second time? Options like J. Doe (op. cit.), J. Doe (ibid.) etc. seem to not really work semantically (given what kind of object op. cit. and ibid. refer to) and be potentially ambiguous with Doe (2012, 2015, 2016), although I suppose the initial of the first name here may disambiguate.

Are there any established ways of dealing with this elegantly?

[Edit:] I should add that I have to refer to a different instance of personal communication with Doe elsewhere, so simply citing “Doe (p.c.)” later on would be potentially ambiguous, unless it somehow only referred to the most recently cited instance of personal communication.

[Edit 2:] To provide some context, we’re talking here about a situation where the papers by Doe (2012, 2015, 2016) outline a particular theory but leave some aspect of it poorly defined or ambiguous. The private communication entails asking Doe for clarification as to how he intended that ambiguous aspect of the theory to be understood/implemented. So this is not really about relying on data or sources that are unavailable, it is about giving fair shrift to Doe’s theory, and making clear as a starting point both for my own work and others how the original point was intended. If this is not taken into account there’s a real danger of just attacking a self-made straw man here, and neither Doe nor I nor others in the field would probably be happy with that. It seems inevitable to me that full disclosure here entails citing the personal communication on more than one occasion, namely whenever Doe’s disambiguating communication comes into play.

I am writing a research proposal for Ph.D. admission. I am confused that whether the research proposal for the Ph.D. application should be written like a formal paper. In the formal paper I submitted to the conference, I know that the paper will be reviewed by peers in our field. So I always try to write formal mathematical language when the plain text could not fully explain my ideas.
But I am aware that some professors in the selection committee may not be in my field so that they may not understand the equations in my field. And I should write down my ideas in a more simple way.
Am I over concerned? Or I could just write the research proposal like it is a normal paper.

I’m currently applying for a post graduate scholarship and need to do a research plan. I have an idea of what I would like to research on but i found a better coinage of the topic on the internet. Would it constitute plagiarism if I use this topic from the internet? its just the topic I need.
Would also appreciate any help on how to write a research plan.

After submitting a paper to a conference, my advisor told me that he was going to change the authorship order (putting him as first author, me as last) because he contributed more to the final manuscript, even though I conducted all experiments. He proceed to change the order without my consent.

Is this common in academia? I’m a new master’s student and I’m not sure if I should just get used to it or change advisors.