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Can I do a PhD in art with a 1st supervisor from the phycology department?
W

Hello Sarahanother!

First of all, and this is really important: It's called psychology with an S (pronounced "sigh"-cology, the P is silent). Phycology is the scientific study of algae, which I doubt is what you are looking for. To be brutally honest, as a prospective advisor my personal enthusiasm would already be somewhat limited when faced with such a fundamental mistake.

Second, I think you should decide what it is that you want. You say you want show your "own interpretations" of visual illusions. But what does that mean? Do you want to teach children how visual illusions work, or about their history in art or science? Do you want the illusions to be effective in the book (i.e., when the reader looks at them)? Or do you want to use them only as visual ornaments?

Do you have to write a thesis along with a practice-based art PhD? If so, it sounds like provding scientific background information on the visual illusions themselves would be a good idea. Having an appropriate supervisors from psychology would then make sense. However, since you already say that you do not want the PhD to be science-focused, I do not see that having somebody from psychology as main advisor. If this is supposed to be primarly an art project, somebody from that field should take the lead.

Ownership equipment I got funding for
W

As others have stated here, it is normal that equipment obtained through third-party funding stays with the university (in fact, the same applies to salaries which have not been used up). As researcher (Ph.D student or postdoc) you are not an independent legal entity. That's why grant proposal are usally signed by a faculty member, who legally acts on behalf of the university. Of course, this feels unfair when you did all the work and are proud of your success, but the legal situation is usually pretty unambiguous. That being said, as others have stated, simply read through the paperwork concerning the funding. It should become clear quickly who the contractual partner of the funding agency / company was from the legal point of view.

In fact, I knew an assistant professor who moved to a different university and wanted to quietly take "his" computer lab equipment along, for which he had acquired the funding. Result: the dean called him to his office and threatened to call police. A lot of bad blood was generated that day.

Another, different suspected (highly-likely) plagiarism in an educational article, editor involved?
W

You see: There is no black-and-white here. In your case, they published an article possibly heavily inspired by your work, which you yourself had made public in the meantime. But apparently it was an expanded, permutated and re-worded subset of your material. Is this strictly plagiarism? Hard to tell. Is it possible one of your reviewers or editors effectively stole your ideas? Yes, it certainly is.

Don't ever publish anything of value anywhere unless you get a hard, CV-ready, peer-reviewed publication out of it immediately. arXiv sounds like a nice idea, but from the point of view of an academic career it means throwing your hard work away. Get acquainted to the fact that academia is a dog-eat-dog world filled with many unsavoury characters.

(Part 2/2)

Another, different suspected (highly-likely) plagiarism in an educational article, editor involved?
W

Well, yes, unfortunately there are many people in academia who build a career upon (p)recycling other peoples' ideas. I met many "distinguished scientists" who clearly got to where they were by cheating and stealing. A "renowned" professor who was my postdoc supervisor openly talked about the race to prepublish other PhD students' ideas in slightly reworded language, which they used to have in his old research group when he was a PhD student himself. He and his wife (also a professor) fondly remembered and laughed about the many promising researchers who they managed to frustrate out of academia this way. All in good fun, right?

I once had a paper on a then revolutionary idea accepted at a major conference in the field. Only weeks later I received, as reviewer for another conference, a paper which very closely mimicked my own idea and in fact cited my paper - which hadn't even been published. Clearly, one of the reviewers for my paper, a renowned established professor in the field, had largely copied my idea. So while this was not plagiarism in the strict sense (he cited my paper, after all), the author of that paper then immediately "took over" the sub-field which I started: He started publishing a large number of trivial knock-off papers, flooding publication venues with similar publications within months. In these numerous following papers, he then only cited his own first paper and did not mention mine anymore. Many later publications from other researchers then only cited the various later publications of that "colleague", leading to the widespead legend that he had the initial idea and started the subfield.

I was the victim of this technique of burying earlier original work under a mountain of citations of later knock-off papers by established professors many times, in fact.

Later, I had another groundbreaking idea blacklisted from major conferences in my field, because the powers that be (conference/area chairs, etc.) had decided that "the fundamental problem I was proposing to solve is non-sensical". The resistance was such that they repeatedly overruled unanimous positive reviews by external reviewers to keep my work out of major venues. Lo and behold: From about a year later a well-established professor in the field started publishing full papers at major conferences and in the best journals, winning best paper awards several times in a row, etc., on what was essentially an expanded version of my work. I.e., solving the exact same "non-sensical problem" using improved versions of the techniques I had proposed. At least he had the decency to cite the one paper I had meanwhile managed to publish at a minor, inconsequential workshop.

Were these cases of plagiarism in the strict formal sense? Not really. Was it unethical? I think you could say so.

(Part 1/2)

Supervisor just wonot let me Graduate
W

Frankly, it sounds like there is something missing from your story. It would be incredible for a supervisor to delay graduation by two years for no stated reason. That being said, I received my PhD from a German university, and what I remember about the process at the end was the long and complicated bureaucratic process involved (this is Germany, after all). This process had to be triggered and run by the student and involved writing letters and filling out forms for various parts of the university administration. Some aspects of this bureaucratic process also had to be performed a while (6 months or more) before the thesis defense could even be scheduled. Also, none of my advisors actually knew what this (ever-changing and University-specific) process actually required. Rather, I had ask to PhD colleagues for advice and talk to various administrative assistants to piece together the information required. All that my supervisors did was to later tell the dean at what dates they would be available for my defense - but this was after I had taken care of all the bureaucratic prerequisites. Maybe you could ask somebody who recently graduated what the exact process was?

How do you tell if your PhD supervisor is sexually harassing you?
W

Well, I am male, and I find your supervisor's behavior completely unacceptable. (I also once was in the reverse situation with an inappropriately behaving female student I supervised, and it was very uncomfortable for me.) It is pointless to speculate about your supervisor's motivation. It may or may not be harmless: If it makes you uncomfortable, it makes you uncomfortable. In my view, you should simply tell him - calmly and factually - that the physical contact in a supervisor-student relationship makes you uncomfortable. He has to understand. Part of the PhD process is learning to speak up for yourself. If he doesn't respond, it's time to escalate the problem.

How should I work with lab member who has mental issue?
W

Sounds like she's trying to sabotage you, plain and simple. One of the most common "mental issues" in academia. Don't be fooled by her later attempts to be nice or explain her own behavior away. Is she some sort of tutor or supervisor for you? If not, stay away from her if at all possible. You say she has attendance issues anyway? Then the answer is simple - try to be in the lab when she isn't. Problem solved.

Lectureship v postdoc - advice please
W

I concur with rewt, getting what is commonly considered a "real job" is the way to go and represents the expected academic career path. Postdoc positions can quickly become a dead end from which there is no escape. Of course, being a lecturer and trying to perform useful research at the same time can be very stressful. However, be aware that this is the life you are signing up for in academia anyway. This is NEVER going to end.

Lab / group size
W

This is an interesting question - and a difficult situation for you. A smallish lab may mean all sorts of things. The PI may simply value quality over quantity. I knew quite a few very good researchers who hand-picked students, collaborators and research topics in order to ensure high-quality research. They simply wanted to focus on the things they considered really worthwhile, and tried to excel at those, rather than chasing every latest research trend. On the other hand, many mediocre scientists practice empire building and try to expand their group at all cost. Of course, there are many other possible explanations as well.

The much bigger question is whether the group is actually as outstanding as it seems from the outside. Personally, I experienced huge disappointments twice after moving at great expense to seemingly leading research groups with world renowned PIs - only to find out after joining that these groups were basically run by impostors.

Unfortunately, some people are extremely gifted at charming, blackmailing and cheating their way onto authors' lists, grants, committees, etc., in some cases over decades. The best publication lists in the most renowned journals, constant presence at top conferences, etc., do not guarantee that even the most basic knowledge and competence are actually present in the research group. Unfortunately, in my experience this is almost impossible to tell from the outside because in particular such sub-par plagiarizers put a huge emphasis on presenting themselves in the best light when visited by other scientists.

In the end, the best you can do is do your research and then make a decision based on the best information you have available. Unfortunately, there is always the risk that you realize after a short while you ended up in the wrong place.

In any case, best of luck to you!

Examiners judging my research on the wrong elements?
W

Hi Azhan!

Where are you pursuing your Ph.D.? And did the background knowledge questions just spontaneously pop up during your presentation - or what do you mean when you say "afterward"?

I know there are some countries/universities where the rules actually require a theoretical oral exam on fundamentals of the field - in addition to the Ph.D. defense. The colleague with whom I shared an office during my Ph.D. actually had to do this because he switched fields between his Master's and Ph.D. (from physics to CS), while for myself the defense itself was sufficient (I stayed in CS).

Maybe there was some miscommunication concerning what the actual requirements are for you for completing the Ph.D.?

Any one worked in States for postdoc or other role?
W

While I haven't worked in the US per se, I was postdoc for close to 3 years in Canada, mostly under the supervision of American professors. In a word, my experience there was underwhelming, and I would definitely not repeat the decision. The culture shock for myself, going from being a postdoc in central Europe to the Canadian-American system, could hardly have been larger. Back home I was on the verge of becoming a PI, having already supervised several Master's students of my own and being responsible for an entire lab. Once I stepped off the plane there and talked to my American professor for the first time, it became clear that I had regressed to being a research assistant. I was lumped in with the "grad students", who were not treated much different from the undergrads. Instead of an office I was given a seat in the shared undergrad/grad student lab. I had no say whatsoever in the topics I was going to work on, despite the fact that I was 100% self-funded through a funding agency in my home country. So I spent two years working on non-sensical, failing topics unrelated to by PhD or research interests, which were unilaterally assigned to me. In short, in the North American system you are not taken seriously until you have "a real job", i.e., a professorship of some sort. "Postdoc" over there is essentially synonymous with "loser", and one should not stay in this phase for more than a few months, maybe 1 year max. I could talk about this at great lengths, so just a few highlight experiences: 1) At one point, I - as a self-funded visiting postdoctoral researcher - was ASSIGNED to work in a project HEADED by one of the local UNDERGRADS. That guy spent his whole day playing World-of-Warcraft, while I was doing to the coding for him. 2) I was expected - among other things - to catsit and help paint the house for my "supervisor". Etc. etc.

Dilemma Another Postdoc (after a bad experience in both postdoc and PhD) ? Industry ?
W

What are your career goals? Maybe you should define those first. "Love doing research" is not a career goal.

If you want to work in industry, another postdoc would certainly be most unhelpful. Frankly, it is probably already hard to find an employer in industry now after almost 10 years in academia.

If you want to become a professor, frankly, you are also sort of late after 9 years of doctoral/postdoctoral studies. TBH it is kind of late for you to be worrying about your lack of publications now. Your peers with whom you will compete for professorships now probably have their first research group leaderships, churn out papers monthly, accumulate acquired funding, are forging networks etc.

Doing another postdoc "just because" is a terrible, terrible idea. Believe me, I know what I am talking about.

If you want to become a professor, you should define that goal and pour all your energy into it - publish like crazy, apply for funding, attend conferences, forge relationships. Declare the goal expressly to your colleagues, family and friends. Only then will you be taken seriously.

Drifting into another postdoc position to keep working as a glorified research assistent is NOT the way to go.

Bypassing Masters and joining PhD in Germany and equivalent countries
W

Virtually impossible IMHO. I have never heard of anybody in Germany being admitted into a PhD without a Master's or equivalent. It's also generally not up to the professor or some committee, but enshrined in state level regulations (Kultusministerium).

Individual DFG Research funding
W

I had a DFG postdoc fellowship. (This was, however, about 10 years ago.) Back then the expectation was that one had approx. a 50% chance of obtaining funding for an individual postdoc fellowship. As usual in academia, much of your success will be determined by your literary prowess. If you have a good story to tell in the application and your field is deemed somewhat worthy, you have a good chance of getting funded. At the end of the fellowship, you will be expected to write a final report summarizing your results. Once again, this is primarily a literary exercise - virtually any outome of a research effort can be presented as a useful result, unless all you did was burn down the lab. Of course, the final report will look a lot better if you can cite a few additional publications which were produced during your postdoc. At the end, you get a one-line letter telling you whether your project results were deemed "worthy of funding". Of course, your application and final report will be assessed by external reviewers, i.e., important professors in your field (and/or their grad students).

Evidently you are trying to become a professor (why else would one pursue a postdoc). In this context, there is a lot more that could be said about your approach here for obtaining funding. I can elaborate if you are interested.

My department purposefully delayed my viva and being so unprofessional. Should I report this?
W

Not sure where you get the "purposefully" from. Also, frankly, I am wondering a little why you didn't follow up yourself instead of simply assuming that everything worked as planned?