Bottom of the food chain


======= Date Modified 05 30 2009 14:30:29 =======
Just wanted to rant really- apologies in advance!

I found out (through a copy of an email on the units printer) that my supervisors and managers have decided not to include me in any of the wider projects emails. I did wonder as I hardly get any emails at all from the team about the bigger project.

I feel a little sad and deflated as my PhD is intergrated into our wider project and I started off the bigger project nearly 3 years ago. My colleagues also have not copied me into meeting notes and have missed my name of the bigger projects publications despite copying chunks of my work word for word into various publications (which I subsequently complained about).

I think they feel that I should concentrate fully on my PhD, but it doesn't help that I just feel completely out of the loop and quite frankly, unimportant and insignificant in their eyes.

Feeling glum :( Has anyone experienced anything similar? My funding runs out in September, and it's hard enough keeping myself motivated, let alone dealing with seemingly insensitive work colleagues!


are you sure you were deliberately excluded? maybe this was just an accidental oversight, and you have no way of knowing if they meant to miss you off or not. and maybe you're right, maybe they felt these emails would only distract you from your phd, and they want you to focus solely on your work.

i know how you feel - i am based with my industrial sponsor, and they are constantly leaving me out of things because i'm not a *real* employee :(  after asking about 10 times i eventually got included on the departmental email distribution list, but i am constantly getting messages telling me to ignore this or that, or not go to such and such a meeting, as it is 'nothing to do with me'. i'm sure people feel like they are doing me a favour by excusing me from these things, but the little child in me just feels sulky and left out :-(

perhaps the best thing to do is just not care! i'm pretty sure it's not deliberate insensitivity, people just don't realise how you might feel about being left out, and they think they're helping you out by not involving you. if i were you, i'd try and rise above it, forget about it, and write a fab thesis to show them all how important and significant you are after all! :-)


I have experienced the same thing. I know it makes you feel really unimportant. My best suggestion is to politely ask to be included. They probably don't realize you feel this way and think that you would rather be doing your own research. Afterall, you main objective is to finish your research and graduate. That being said, my strategy is to take on as many small but important tasks as possible, so that they are forced to include me in communication. For instance, this could be taking minutes, contacting someone, booking a meeting room, etc. Gradually wedge your way in so that they realize they need you.


At first glance I would recommend the advice below. It may be a simple oversight.

BUT... it may be a bit more shrewd if you check out the lie of the land beforehand. I don't know your situation and if you are being kept out of the loop deliberately, doing the equivalent of turning up and smashing on the door may not be the best way to go about getting with the "in-crowd". Is there any way you can get info about the circumstances that have kept you off the mailing lists/ meetings/ team updates etc? Don't estimate the pettiness and childishness of academia. It may be a genuine mistake, but if there is something more unpleasant it may be necessary to do some bridge building before you are able to get in those meetings.


While being left out of meetings may be something you can live with, having your name left off of publications that include your work is definitely not on. There should be some sort of intellectual property rights clause in your PhD handbook (if you have one) so check what that says. It may also include the appropriate procedure to follow if you feel your IP rights have been violated. The obvious thing would be to raise the issue with your supervisor, but I realise that might be very awkward. Still, it might be the only course of action. Or approach the lead author if that is not your supervisor.

This is a very delicate situation. Good luck with sorting it out.


No probs - ranting is good and allows you to let off steam!! I'm afraid PhD students are at the bottom of the food chain and we are often told this as well! It sucks!!! Sorry to hear about the e-mails and the meetings - as previous people have said before it would be a good idea to find out if it was done accidently or on purpose! Then you can decide what to do about it! I read in another post that PhDs are not just about how academic you are but also about your character as they are intent on half destroying it!! So good luck and hope it all works out!