Guess my other thread got taken down. Shame.
Its 10am. The lab is quiet as I am the only one in. I love it on Friday mornings as the rest of the postdocs are always attending the academic seminar, the PhDers are usually doing their field work, so I get to potter around like an old man. Make some tea, check some data, embrace the tranquiliy to think. Its the real high point of my week.
Anyway, I am in the kitchenette, waiting for the quiet but woefully inefficient kettle to boil, when I feel a disturbance in the force. Its one of the PhDers, lets call her Katy.
Looks like the rest of my thread didnt get posted...
Katy doesnt see me, and sits down at another PhDers computer. I am in the kitchenette, so I cant really see much, but she clicks and types furiously. By the time I bring back my cup of tea to my desk she is gone.
I dont think too much about it, but come lunchtime the PhDer who the computer belongs to(lets call her Sabrina) suddenly cries that the whole of her literature review is missing (no back ups either). Katy needless to say goes over to comfort her and says "I hate the computers here, they always crash"...
think about it. Who backs up their work each and every time? I try to be careful about this, but there is no way that every single time I have done something that I back it up. Someone who deliberately destroys another person's work has really committed a very serious act. On the other hand, is it possible that Sabrina did not save her own work? This has happened to me too, where I was certain I had saved my latest draft ( and working from home, where no other person would have had access to the computer) but it was not there.
In other words--who knows for sure what happened?
Does the university not offer a user log in so that no one but you can get to the material you have saved on the computer? Does it have a secured personal drive? I would say if you are on a shared computer it would be critical to save your work in a folder or area that only you can access with a log in and password.
I wish I was joking. I thought at first I was being set up as part of a reality TV show.
The main problem is that I can't conclusively prove Katy did anything. I was in the kitchenette and saw her clicking etc, but that is fairly circumstantial evidence. Hell, Katy could just turn around and say "Well, I saw Badhaircut delete things", which Sabrina is more likely to believe as Katy is her "friend". For what its worth, I think Sabrina will invest in a USB stick (she asked me if I had a spare), but its a little too late.
(However, I am glad to see others found this fairly disturbing, and its not just me and my cynical pessimism).
@ Olivia. Most of the computers at uni are network logged (mine is). But due to the high number of PhDers,RAs and placement students, we have some stand alone machines (old disused ones with Win 98 with floppy disks/ CD burners) that don't require passwords, etc so people have something they can use in the lab.
I thought this was a good idea, but it does assume that you can trust your peers though.
I cannot imagine doing your work without some kind of back up such as a USB stick or CD rom or floppy disc, or as someone mentioned, at least emailing it to yourself. I think its very possible for people to decide to sabotage other's work in some twisted notion of advancing their own position. If I was in a shared environment ( esp. after reading this!!!) I would not leave my USB stick on the computer if I got up even to get a coffee...I would be afraid of what could happen if someone just waltzed by and swiped your USB stick.
I try to save onto my USB and on to my computer, and with some documents, I will also email them to myself---it would be too easy to lose a USB stick under innocent circumstances...and horrible to lose work.
I spoke to Katy today and said that I saw her in the room on Friday morning. She went scarlet and said that if I said anything to Sabrina she would tell the PI that I had been sexually harassing her and get me fired.
Wish I hadn't said anything at all now.I thought my former supervisor was bad, but that was NOTHING compared to this.
I was shocked to read this!
What did this Katy get out of being so destructive? She sounds sick.
I always wonder off my PC logged in and my work VERY accessible. For the 2+ years I've been working here, it would never have occurred to me that someone in my research group would do that to me. However I do backup.
I think the hardrive to the computer would say what happened early in the morning, so if you did want to have a word with Katy, she should realise that you would have proof.
BHC this sounds like a serious situation to me! you are now effectively being blackmailed and threatened. you can't let this be and hope that grass grows over it. if this katy learns through this experience that she has power over you, she will use it another time. and then again. and again. the longer you leave it before you do something about it, the harder it will be - you will be implicated (for not having reacted earlier).
i think you need to tell someone that you were threatened to be set up as a harasser. you need to protect yourself. it's an ugly situation but if you do nothing, i suspect it will just get uglier! i am sure there is somewhere in the university that should deal with something like this. you are, after all, staff now.
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