While I was a TA for an undergraduate CS course, I built up a good teaching relationship with a student who was struggling. By the end of the course, she had turned things around and was performing much better.

We hadn’t spoken since I was her teacher until she reached out to me about a graduate student TA in a later course who told her that she was so bad that she should just leave the major entirely. His comments seem to have damaged her self-confidence and she chose to talk to me, rather than to the faculty. I’m not at the university anymore, but I remain personal friends with that student’s adviser.

Is this generally acceptable conduct for graduate students? Should I let the professor know? I think it isn’t really the place of a first-year graduate student to give such unsolicited “advice”, especially in such absolute terms at a time when the department has made it a stated goal to be more inclusive to women and underrepresented minorities. For context, the TA is a man.

This question is based around a hypothetical, but realistic, scenario.

The situation revolves around a group-based course in which the main deliverable is a report. Every group member is responsible for the report. The report is graded as a whole and counts for the entire group but individual adjustments in grade can be made by the supervisor based on peer reviews and other considerations by the supervisor.

The issue arises when part of the group fails (due to the report grade) and another part passes the course. Let’s assume the failing students did their part, just not enough to pass.

I am particularly wondering about the fairness or ethics of part of the group passing on contributions by the failing of the group.

I have taken part in many such courses and luckily the issue never arose in any of the groups I was part of. Thinking about it, I have mixed feelings about the situation the failing students (in this scenario) find themselves in.

On the one hand, you could say the failing students did not contribute enough to the report for them to pass the course. On the other hand, placing yourself in the failing students’ shoes, their contributions are used to pass the other part of the group.

Concrete questions:

From a supervisor’s point of view, should only those parts written by the passing students be considered to grade them so they don’t fare on the work of the failing students?

This is almost impossible, you would first have to consider all the work (how else do your know some students won’t pass?) then unconsider (if that’s even a thing) part of it.

One option would be to either pass or fail the entire group, but that might be unfair on the hard-working group members (who do enough to pass if they were in a group of people who as hard as them).

From the failing students’ points of view, it might seem unfair because their work is used to pass the others. Should those having received a failing grade be entitled to any compensation on the grounds that they did some work?

I’d compare it with starting a company, suppose three people build a company, two people do 40% of the work each, the other does the remaining 20%. While any two people in this case do over 50% of the work, I don’t think they can just decide to dump the other person (this might depend on how the company was founded, but it seems unethical).

How this type of assignment works in my experience

A group of students is assigned a problem for which they need to write a report. The students get a list of requirements and it is up to them to divide the work and make sure everyone does their part.

If a student does very little work, the others can report that so a solution can be found (student has to make up for lack of work or quits the course). It’s mostly encouraged to report bad group dynamics early so something can be done about it (that becomes harder as the project progresses).

The projects often have a tutor assigned to them, sometimes academic staff, sometimes a (more) senior student. Students also review their peers on how they felt the others participated. The tutor advises the one(s) responsible for grading the reports. Based on the report, the tutor’s advice and the report itself, each student gets a grade (according to some rubric).

The courses I have in mind are mainly aimed at this report. The report will be the main deliverable and make up over 50% of the course’s grade. The remaining part of the grade is made up by a combination of individual work and other group deliverables (e.g. presentations or computer code).

I am currently a graduate student, and for a course I gathered hundreds of thousands of records (not confidential, but difficult to access if you don’t already know about them and know who to talk to) and spent several months cleaning, combining, and organizing them into a usable dataset, upon which I then performed statistical analysis. The project is complete and produced interesting results, but likely I won’t turn it into a paper anytime soon.

I found out yesterday that the professor supervising the course spoke to one of his friends and mentioned my project, and the friend asked for my dataset (the cleaned one I produced, not the raw records) to perform his own analysis. Should I share it with this friend? If so, is there a way to ask to be acknowledged in any publications that result?

The data were originally public records, but I did a lot of work that required years of specialized subject-matter knowledge to compile them appropriately. Are there other risks I haven’t considered? I feel a little uncomfortable being asked to share a large amount of work with an academic I don’t know at all, and while I would like to help advance the field in general, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect here.

I am a PhD student and research assistant at a US university. During this past spring, a group of newer students took to harassing me and blaming me for all of their failures even though I was the only one out of a group of more than 10 to actually commit to helping them. They have taken it so far that they have even tried to have me expelled. Even though my adviser prevented the expulsion, he still takes the stance that it is all my fault and is trying to force me to graduate this December even though I will not be ready. I am deeply worried that this is going to result in failure of my defense (by my adviser’s design) to the point that I don’t get any sleep.

I have been working at home now for nearly four months to protect myself from emotional and physical harm from these people. My property on campus has been vandalized, equipment that I built disassembled/defaced, and worse. Now that they can’t reach me at home, they have begun to take it out on my girlfriend who still goes to campus and works in our research group.

We have been told by university officials to file a complaint on their hotline, but we know that once the three other students find out a complaint was filed, they will undoubtedly fabricate another story to take it out on us. Two of these people hold US gov’t security clearances and our adviser thinks they are infallible and are not capable of behaving this way.

These people have been entrenched in their personal problems (which I have not been enlightened on) with me for so long that they are constantly angry. Our last group meeting ended with them arguing with my girlfriend. They then pursued her to our lab to continue the argument. I just don’t know what to do, it seems like the university just does not care what is happening. An HR representative is involved, but claims it is not his job to resolve the issue. She was set to go to Argonne National Lab in a few weeks to run experiments, but now, due to the fact those other people are going, she has cancelled her experiments because she is afraid of being alone with them (my adviser won’t pay for me to go anymore).

Does anyone out there have any advice? I’m worried the situation has progressed so far that I need to worry about hiring a lawyer.

The scenario:

  • in an article, found a point/claim/fact that would fit/support perfectly a broader point I’m trying to construct (@Related works section)

The dilemma:

  • Whom to cite?
    • a) only the article in which I found the [whole] point/claim/synthesis
    • b) the original sources, the author cited during his construction of the point
    • c) both i.e. the complete paragraph or part of the paragraph that serves my purpose

Pros and cons:

  • a)
    • Pro: I pay proper respect to the author from whom I learnt about the sources/facts. + the article is the only source I really read
    • Con: I would have single reference to support the point, while in reality it there are several relevant sources (used by the author)
  • b)

    • Pro: I would provide the reader with deeper/direct references for further researching
    • Con: it is a form of plagiarism, as it would seem that it was me that read all the sources and drawn conclusion presented. The conclusion is not the issue, I discuss that particular point anyway (in my paper), but the first part bothers me: it wasn’t me that studied all that sources, but the author
  • c) seems to me as just solution but I’m not sure how it should be formulated so it is clear for reader what is reference (let it be: [1]) from the article and what (sub) references are just taken from the article (let them be: [1.a] [1.b])

Alternatively, (and this is what I would normally do):
– I follow his references, find the articles, read them and then use (some or all of) them together with other references (known to me from earlier research). The issue with such practice: too often there is no justification for referencing his article — and it seems not to be not right i.e. smells to me like a tiny plagiarism-sin.


The example:

….

To achieve the first goal, the crawler has to visit as many web sites as possible, and to achieve the second goal, the crawler has to
maintain the freshness of the previously visited web sites, which can
be achieved by re-visiting such web sites in a routinely manner. In
the following, the most frequently used re-visiting policies are
summarized: (1) Uniform policy: in this policy, the entire web sites
are downloaded at each visit (Bhute and Meshram, 2010; Pichler et al.,
2011; Leng et al., 2011; Sharma et al., 2012; Singh and Vikasn, 2014).
Although this approach enriches the databases, it requires a large
processing time. (2) Proportional policy: this policy is performed in
many ways, such as: • Downloading only the pages that have a rank more
than a threshold value specified by the crawler administrator (Bhute
and Meshram, 2010;)

From the article:

ALQARALEH, S., RAMADAN, O., & SALAMAH, M. (2015). Efficient watcher
based web crawler design. Aslib Journal of Information Management,
67(6), 663–686. http://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-02-2015-0019

In my article I want to explain/define these two policies, together with his remarks, my own remarks, and, potentially, to expand (support) it with other sources.


I’m not sure if I formulated the issue properly, so please, do not hesitate to demand clarification. Any comments/thoughts are welcome, even if you are not sure what would be the right way.

Thanks in advance!

I have been researching a specific topic in computer science for a couple of years now and a well established professor and his students have recently published a couple of publications in that topic too. In their work they do reference the well known and well cited previous work that basically everyone in that topic references, but I have noticed that they ignore (don’t reference) a couple of publications that are doing essentially what they are publishing about, i.e. extremely related work. And I am wondering even though there is a gap of a couple of years between the work they have published and the available previous literature how did they miss referencing the relevant previous work? Was it done intentionally or did they just do a hasty job at finding more recent related work?

Either way my main concern here is if there is anything that can be done to remedy the situation now, since the paper has already been published?

I have been researching a specific topic in computer science for couple of years now and a well established professor and his students have recently published couple of publications in that topic too. In their work they do reference the well known and well cited previous work that basically everyone in that topic references, but I have noticed that they ignore (don’t reference) couple of publications that are doing essentially what they are publishing about, i.e. extremely related work. And I am wondering even though there are couple of years gap between the work they have published and the available previous literature how did they missed referencing relevant previous work? Was it done intentionally or did they just do a hasty job at finding more recent related work?

Either way my main concern here is there anything that can be done to remedy the situation now, since the paper has already been published?

I am reading a paper that I find very hard to follow.

This is partially due to my lack of experience in the subfield, but also I think because the paper is unclearly written.

Is it acceptable for me to email the writer of the paper, and ask for explanations of basic concepts in the paper? i.e. I would ask for things that I think could have been explained more clearly.

Just a quick question regarding authorship. Recently, a PI won a grant, which was used to buy some computer equipment (~$1000 piece of computation equipment along with some other equipment not relevant to the post).

I am a student that has been using the piece of equipment, as it was not being used by their students.

I am now going to be submitting a manuscript, which used the equipment as mentioned above. Does this entail the PI who won the funds to pay for it authorship? Or, as I believe, just acknowledgment (for both the grant and the PI who won it)?

EDIT: I should note, my research has nothing to do whatsoever with the PI’s grant or their research.

I am reading a paper that I find very hard to follow.

This is partially due to my lack of experience in the subfield, but also I think because the paper is unclearly written.

Is it acceptable for me to email the writer of the paper, and ask for explanations of basic concepts in the paper? i.e. I would ask for things that I think could have been explained more clearly.