Some time ago I started my Ph.D. and my project was to attempt again to investigate a problem that a colleague (a senior Ph.D.) had failed to investigate because he lacked numerical/coding skills to attack the problem. Essentially our advisor put me to work on a line of research that senior phd had abandoned, and I started from his (few) old results, spent 9 months writing code and running the simulations, and finally obtained some interesting results. Senior PhD, though he mostly contributed with discussions and one plot, casually claimed co-first-authorhip by asking to our advisor when I was not there, but the request was refused.

For the last 6 months we worked on a natural continuation of the previous research. Senior phd insisted to collaborate intensely at the beginning and for the first month we surely did, but later he was caught by other things (writing 2 other papers, writing the PhD dissertation..) and I continued my work alone with a PostDoc. SeniorPhd always attended discussions.

It is now time to start writing the paper, and he said he would write it, as he has alredy written part of those results in his dissertation and because he writes faster than me (so we can publish before other groups) . I politely refused during the meeting, so he offered to co-write the results with me.

Our advisor ignored the issues and pushed to move onto other topics.

After that meeting, senior Ph.D. started to ask me to explain a few things that he still did not get about the method, and I explained him. He then proceeded to make a few very quick simulations to produce the first 2 figures of the paper and presented those to the PostDoc a few hours after I was done explaining him.

I felt as if he is trying to force himself as first author/coauthor by simply starting to write a research in which he did not do the majority of the work.

All the data is in a shared drive, so in principle, he could write everything up.

How can I confront the issue without looking like an asshole who refuses to be helped by a very kind collegue?

I am a PhD student with a very difficult colleague – someone I thought was just socially inept, and rude. I was always friendly, giving her the benefit of the doubt, even though she offended me and others on a constant basis with her privileged, superiority complex. On paper, she looks brilliant – she has had many educational opportunities that my parents couldn’t afford – something that has made her unbelievably unaware of experiences not her own.

After many derogatory and humiliating comments, I eventually started ignoring her quite a bit – she would never respond to my hellos, would interrupt me in class, laugh when I didn’t know a scholar she brought up, etc. It was taking energy to be kind and outgoing to her. Her demeaning behavior was obvious to many, but because she is my classmate, I see her the most. After seeking guidance from mental health professionals, I decided to no longer be upset by her, but also not entertain her behavior. I blocked her out as much as I could, while trying to maintain professionalism.

Granted, there may have been a few times when I questioned her in class – asking for clarification or further explanations into her method of thinking. As PhD students, I am under the impression that we should be able to defend our research, and my professors never said anything to me about the questions I asked.

However, very recently a few professors approached me about “tension” between us. They informed me that this girl has complained about me to them. She apparently has discussed me often, even going as far to say that I “trigger” her. I am shocked. I have never said anything to my professors about her, even though she has offended me several times. I am friends with almost everyone in the program, while she has isolated herself.

I now am feeling extremely insecure, and painted in a very negative light. Professors are suggesting that I meet with her, and show her my “softer” side – I’m from the East coast, we can get a bit…intense. They are encouraging me to reach out to her and comfort her. However, I have been kind to her from the beginning, only recently trying to ignore her toxic attitude. I’m not sure what to do, or how to go about this.

Suggestions?

I have a very difficult cohort – someone I thought was just socially inept, and rude. I was always friendly, giving her the benefit of the doubt, even though she offended me and others on a constant basis with her privileged, superiority complex. On paper, she looks brilliant – she has had many educational opportunities that my parents couldn’t afford – something that has made her unbelievably unaware of experiences not her own. After many derogatory and humiliating comments, I eventually started ignoring her quite a bit – she would never respond to my hellos, would interrupt me in class, laugh when I didn’t know a scholar she brought up, etc. It was taking energy to be kind and outgoing to her. Her demeaning behavior was obvious to many, but because she is my cohort, I see her the most. After seeking guidance from mental health professionals, I decided to no longer be upset by her, but also not entertain her behavior. I blocked her out as much as I could, while trying to maintain professionalism.

Granted, there may have been a few times when I questioned her in class – asking for clarification or further explanations into her method of thinking. As PhD students, I am under the impression that we should be able to defend our research, and my professors never said anything to me about the questions I asked.

However, very recently a few professors approached me about “tension” between us. They informed me that this girl has complained about me to them. She apparently has discussed me often, even going as far to say that I “trigger” her. I am shocked. I have never said anything to my professors about her, even though she has offended me several times. I am friends with almost everyone in the program, while she has isolated herself.

I now am feeling extremely insecure, and painted in a very negative light. Professors are suggesting that I meet with her, and show her my “softer” side – I’m from the East coast, we can get a bit…intense. They are encouraging me to reach out to her and comfort her. However, I have been kind to her from the beginning, only recently trying to ignore her toxic attitude. I’m not sure what to do, or how to go about this.

Suggestions?

Within one week I shall leave my present institution, where I felt severely mistreated around salary payment and work conditions for 2 years, as a postdoctoral fellow.

The PI who signed my contract (theoretically my supervisor) has played passive-aggressive “not-here” all my stay while consistently demanding honorary, corresponding authorship status in any piece I happen to publish, from any source. In fact I had never heard of this person prior to signing my contract from abroad, over which I was dealing with another local professor. They had made some kind of agreement.

Soon I will leave, at the official end of my contract. I am wondering whether I should give this person a symbolic departure gift, especially in front of the other lab mates. I am not culturally hierarchy-oriented but displaying respect to hierarchy is seen as a strong moral virtue, where I am, in China.

Relevant: I am not staying in China, but I might keep in touch with one or two current lab mates after I leave. I am afraid that an act of offering him a gift will communicate a wish to continue “guanxi” which is his understanding probably means I will forever offer him credit over my work, favors.

Please, what do others suggest?

I’m having trouble with one of my labmates that is severely impacting my work. He is a more senior student than me, but only has been in my lab for two months since my advisor came from a different university last year, and this student didn’t come initially (he was supposed to graduate at the old institution but didn’t).

No one else in the lab works on similar research to me, so when this student came I thought it was nice to have someone around who was experienced in similar research topics to talk to and potentially collaborate with. Right away he told me he planned to publish many papers with me while he’s here, and then wrote me up a research plan. My advisor is quite hands off, and he has not mentioned to me that I am supposed to work closely with this student. I like my advisor’s hands off approach, and certainly didn’t ask another PhD student to write up plans for me. Even though I am a junior PhD student I am very self-directed and thus far my advisor has mostly let me dictate the research problems I work on.

Very quickly, my relationship with this other student has deteriorated to the point where I can’t even go to the lab if I want to get any work done (and since I’m in engineering, most of my work is tied to my lab). He talks nonstop. And I do mean nonstop. If I’m trying to work (not paying attention to him), he interrupts me constantly to talk at me, and it is rarely work or research-related. I usually come in early in the morning, and he comes in in the afternoon. As soon as he comes in he starts telling me stories, about his work, about his childhood, his parents, anything. It doesn’t stop. When I try to leave after being in lab for 12 hours (say, 8am-8pm) he stops me and criticizes me for leaving “early” (even when I point out if he works from 5pm to 3am it’s actually less time in the lab than I’ve spent), saying I’m not a real PhD student if I don’t work all night.

He has decided he will be a coauthor on all of my papers (without my invitation, and without my advisor’s input), but he has not done anything. Initially I tried to meet to work out a plan for some experiments, and he didn’t show up to some of them and at the others just ended up talking at me. He also touches me on the arm constantly and will stand behind me when I’m at my computer and rub my shoulders. He flatters me constantly, calls me “cute”, says I’m going to be “famous” for my work. I don’t see him behave this way with anyone else in the lab.

This is a lot of complaining, but the main reason I’m worried is 1) I haven’t gotten anything done in the 2 months since he showed up; and 2) I know my advisor highly values students who can work well together (the older students said he fired a couple of students at the old university for refusing to work with one of the other students).

What do I do? I want to talk to my advisor but don’t want to come across like I’m difficult to work with. I’m in a tough situation because this other student is more senior and has a long history with my advisor. I have immense respect and gratitude towards my advisor, but I have only been in the lab for a year (after leaving a toxic lab with a terrible advisor) and haven’t yet established a good track record of research results. I’ve been working at home and hiding out in other labs to try to get my work done, but I can’t stay away from the lab forever since I have to build stuff and run experiments. I’m worried my advisor is going to fire me for lack of results (another thing this student tells me constantly).

Sorry for the long rant, but what should I do? Should I try to talk to my advisor? Should I disappear until I have good results to show so he can’t fire me?

(Disclaimer: While this question pertains to interpersonal issues in a working environment, I feel it is better suited to this SE than Workplace because of it being in the context of a lack of formal responsibility/hierarchy in an academic environment)

Background

The deadline for the camera-ready version of a publication and conference registration is in seven days; In order to finalize the publication, I need to specify information regarding licensing of the primary data (it is literally an HTML field which I have to fill out in order to submit the paper; It is not “just” some legal requirement).

I do not have the experience to decide what licensing is applicable to the type of data I need to license, the hosting setup for the data which will ultimately be in place, and the country/countries involved (I don’t even know what countries would have jurisdiction). However, this would in theory not be a problem, because a tenured member of staff, who also said they would settle the issues regarding hosting, said they would “look into it”. This person is otherwise not related to the publication or project.

Problem

The problem now is that I have been regularly asking the person who offered to deal with licensing issues about the status of the issue for two months now, with the frequency and seriousness of the contact increasing (first it was an occasional e-mail, then more e-mails, then physically finding said person and asking them in person). However, now I have almost no time left, and I still have no resolution to the issues described above.

I do not doubt the person’s “trustworthiness” since they are a senior member of faculty in a small department and I know neither this department nor the person very well. Nevertheless, I cannot trust that this person will magically do what I asked of them one hour before the deadline because the stakes are too high. How can I resolve my dependency on this person before the hard deadline, i.e. how can I get them to do what they said they would do when I cannot do it myself and don’t have time to find someone else who can? The person is neither my supervisor nor formally part of any project I am working on, so I have absolutely no way of formally resolving this.

I recently received an offer for a research award for early-stage scholars producing outstanding research in my field. I have verified the award and the association are genuine and I have colleagues who have won the prize previously.

The problem is two-fold.

The first problem is that I don’t think I deserve the award. Not wishing to blow things out of proportion, the award is good to have but won’t make you famous. Yet, having looked at past winners, some of them are professors and all of them had a higher h-index than me when they were awarded. Comparing our research, I simply think there is no comparison, my research is not as good as past winner’s – although I have an upcoming paper that may have some impact (colleagues seem to think so). Some of the past winners are my colleagues and co-authors.

The second problem is that the award seems to be won by nomination, typically by colleagues, who would have forwarded the nominee’s website and CV. I don’t want my colleagues to look stupid by declining the award, which would, of course, be a strange thing for most people to do.

I feel that I have been misjudged (too positively) and it just would not sit right to accept the award. On the other hand, I do not want to ask colleagues what to do since they have already been quite kind in accommodating my anxiety (I think), in general, and recently they have been quite generous in other regards.

Although the award is not a big deal my question is: will rejecting it harm my colleagues or me in some way?

Minor point: I would also have the option of giving a talk, I’d rather not, but I do have some work to talk about. Wondering if declining the offer to give a talk is a problem too.

Update: Thank you for those replies that answered the question. Kimball’s (“awards are not about deserving”), xleitix’s, and Dan Romik’s (right to decline) answers were the most illuminating. It seems like I should accept. I think perhaps I was unclear since some are replying as if I come from a position of arrogance, my main motivation is to not embarrass myself or others.

I recently received an offer for a research award for early-stage scholars producing outstanding research in my field. I have verified the award and the association are genuine and I have colleagues who have won the prize previously.

The problem is two-fold.

The first problem is that I don’t think I deserve the award. Not wishing to blow things out of proportion, the award is good to have but won’t make you famous. Yet, having looked at past winners, some of them are professors and all of them had a higher h-index than me when they were awarded. Comparing our research, I simply think there is no comparison, my research is not as good as past winner’s – although I have an upcoming paper that may have some impact (colleagues seem to think so). Some of the past winners are my colleagues and co-authors.

The second problem is that the award seems to be won by nomination, typically by colleagues, who would have forwarded the nominee’s website and CV. I don’t want my colleagues to look stupid by declining the award, which would, of course, be a strange thing for most people to do.

I feel that I have been misjudged (too positively) and it just would not sit right to accept the award. On the other hand, I do not want to ask colleagues what to do since they have already been quite kind in accommodating my anxiety (I think), in general, and recently they have been quite generous in other regards.

Although the award is not a big deal my question is: will rejecting it harm my colleagues or myself in some way?

Minor point: I would also have the option of giving a talk, I’d rather not, but I do have some work to talk about. Wondering if declining the offer to give a talk is a problem too.