I am set to graduate from my undergraduate program this spring and am in the process of looking for a research supervisor for my masters degree. I have read some very helpful threads on Stack Exchange, however, a couple of questions remain.

In the email, should I ask to “speak” with the professor / researcher as opposed to instantly asking for she/he to supervise me during graduate school? I have heard conflicting views on this.

I have published several student papers (not in scientific journals). Should I mention that these are “available upon request”?

Lastly, I had attended a graduate school fair at the school I am planning to attend. I spoke to a professor who gave me the names of some researchers at the school. Should I mention this professor’s name in the email? (i.e., X gave me your name and told me about your research).

I understand that only one question should be asked per thread. However, these 3 questions relate to the same topic and it seems inefficient to ask three closely related questions in different threads. Thank you.

I got my article rejected from two journals in a row as they think my work is not suitable for submission in their journals. It was my fault that I could not properly understand aim and scope of these journals. Now I am submitting my work to third journal after thorough checking of aim and scope along with already published article related to my field.

My question is, as I will not provide previous rejection history of my article to the third journal, would this third journal have any information about rejection history of my article ?

My university requires Computer Information Systems majors to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) through SkillsOne (CPP online assessment system) as a part of an ongoing research study, in the university’s terms “to help advise incoming freshman“. Completing this assessment is mandatory for all graduating seniors – i.e. you cannot graduate unless your name appears in the list the department receives from the testing site at the end of the semester.

The paradoxical thing is that the institution requires informed consent from participants, as required by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), yet participation is a requirement, which goes against the idea of voluntary participation. IRB quote from the informed consent page (emphasis mine):

Potential participants must be provided with information about the research project that is understandable and that permits them to make an informed and voluntary decision about whether or not to participate.

So, forced participation in this research study violates IRB requirements, yet it is required in order to graduate. Is this ethical on the part of my institution?

Aside: Personally I have no problem with such an assessment, but I have no choice but to agree to participate which bothers me slightly, given that my identity (first name, last name, institutional email) is tied to my responses. I am inclined to think that others feel the same way. However, this question is not about my personal opinion, but on the ethicality of such a graduation requirement.

I don’t think my research professor takes me seriously. I have noticed that in several of my meetings with my PI, he gets distracted very easily.

Now I know of people my age who get distracted (in their 20s), but he insists it’s something natural… and he’s way older. For example at our last meeting, he was advising me on what I should do for the next part of my project, I was writing all that stuff down, and then he spaced off. I was looking through my notes to see if I understood everything correctly, and he stared up at the ceiling. Next, he asked me if I knew what the ceiling material consisted of. When I said I had no idea (I was trying to brush off the question because there are more important tasks at hand), he made me look it up on the spot. At the moment I thought he might have become bored, maybe there was an awkward silence, but now that I’ve been thinking about it more, this is not the first instance where this has occurred. He does this in front of my other classmates as well.

Is he just joking around? Trying to lighten up the mood? Am I awkward? Am I not important? How do I address this to him?

I would like to go to a strong graduate school. Currently I have a somewhat high GPA at about 3.8. However, there is a program at my university where we can spend an extra year to obtain a Master’s Degree.

I initially intended on spreading my workload and graduate on time by taking about 3 classes per semester. Would it better for me to take 4 classes per semester and graduate about half a semester late with a Master’s degree? Currently, the workload is very hard, so I know my GPA will drop a lot, maybe 0.3 points or more if I take 4 classes.

I would like to attend a strong graduate school in Electrical engineering, so which choice would be more suitable?

I am an undergraduate senior interested in genetics and genomics. I’d like to apply to PhD programs, however, I feel my research experience may not be adequate yet (I have only done 2 years of research in a microbiology lab). I am studying at a small engineering school and my institution, unfortunately, does not offer a variety of research. I could not participate in any REU programs except for the one at my college because I am an international student and these programs required at least permanent residency. So, I have been looking into volunteering in a lab on genomics research. However, I hardly hear from any professor I apply to/send e-mails to. I have some research experience and my GPA is not bad: 3.6. What could be the problem? Do you have any tips to offer me?


I work in a small interdisciplinary field in which one group writes a lot of papers that aren’t good but are often read. When I publish on a topic that they have published on before, should I cite them even if their work is irrelevant to mine?

More context:

The prolific group publishes a lot of mathematical modeling papers in which the model is hidden behind a cascade of self-citation, is written in somewhat non-standard terminology, and no code or calibration data is published. My field is dominated by non-modelers who are often not equipped to judge the modeling, but who read the papers for the figures and discussion (and open peer review has shown that they often review the papers without reviewing the model).

The ethics of citation as I understand them agree with this answer in that we must cite (1) intellectual precedents of our work, (2) supporting evidence, and (3) papers that provide appropriate context. Because their methods are opaque to other modelers like myself, (1) and (2) aren’t possible. The papers are also not (3) appropriate context because the science between the intro and discussion isn’t done well and I view these papers as opinion pieces.

But, I can expect my non-modeler readers to look askance at my minimal citations of the group’s work. As a less-established member of the community, it can look like I’m playing games with priority when I’m actually concerned about advancing the poor state of modeling in my field. I’m debating whether to stick to my principles or give in to what I perceive are poor citation practices to lower friction and look more collegial.

When applying to faculty positions at teaching-focused institutions, recommendation letters that speak to a candidate’s teaching ability are (presumably) very important. But often the person writing the teaching letter is a faculty member at a research-focused institution, where teaching experience of faculty applicants is not emphasized, and so they may not know how to write a good teaching letter (due to lack of experience evaluating such letters).

For example, Pete L. Clark said in this answer:

Many teaching letters are not worthy of more than a very brief reading. They simply do not separate out the candidate or provide any really incisive or useful information. If teaching letters are to be believed, then approximately 99.5% of all candidates are above average teachers. Why do I find myself skeptical of this?

What are the characteristics of a strong teaching letter? What can a letter writer do to emphasize a candidate’s teaching abilities in a way that makes them stand out?

Of course it will depend on the candidate… but I’m interested in hearing from users who have been on search committees at teaching-focused institutions, regarding what kind of things they look for or appreciate in teaching letters.

After widely searching the web looking for this kind of forums where you can discuss educational topics (pedagogy, psychology, educational systems, teaching skills, teaching material and so on and so forth) for all educational levels (not even higher education), I haven´t found anything (what surprise me)!

Do you know about any interesting forum about education?

Sorry if this isn´t a good question, however I didn´t know where to ask this kind of question but StackExchange.

Thank you in advance.