RCR Scenarios • 23 March 2010
Scenario #5 -- Case After starting a post-doc, I still have a manuscript that I am finishing with my graduate advisor. This also includes a few relatively quick experiments. The time I spend working on the manuscript is time taken away from my current work. I am being paid by post-doc advisor, but spending considerable time working on a project that benefits my graduate advisor and myself. An additional publication, however, will help my application for fellowships which will benefit my post-doc advisor (and of course myself). A further issue is that my graduate advisor forgets that I have other work going on and believes that I am on call to work this manuscript whenever he has time.
Scenario #5 -- Preferred Resolution I do think this is a common scenario where someone begins in a new lab but is still finishes things in their former lab. Therefore, it all “comes out in the wash”. I do however prioritize experiments first and with my extra time I work on the manuscript. The problem is that splitting one’s focus sometimes just prolongs both projects.
Scenario #5 -- Actual Resolution None yet – it is an ongoing issue.
Scenario #6 -- Case An advisor hears a student discuss an idea that is peripherally related to the student’s thesis, during a couple of regular student-mentor meetings. After a year the student finds out that another postdoc in the group has used that idea for a grant application that got funded. The student suspects that the advisor has passed along that idea and encouraged the postdoc to develop it without informing her.
Scenario #6 -- Preferred Resolution A person’s contributions should be properly acknowledged. All group members should be treated with scientific respect. This approach helps to prevent hidden misgivings and to foster cooperation in group.
Scenario #6 -- Actual Resolution It was never resolved whether it was an independent development of the idea, or unconscious act by the advisor. The grad student lost a degree of respect for the advisor and postdoc.
Scenario #7 -- Case • The same issue, however, came up in my discussions with colleagues working in two different locations. Thus, this kind of situations might be of a quite common occurrence. The issue relates to preferable treatment of PI’s spouse by the PI when both work in the same place. • In one case there was a complaint that the PI’s spouse did not work as much as the other members of the team did. Yet, the PI’s spouse became later the first author of publications that came out of this lab. • In second case, my colleague is an already experienced person in regard to personal relations at the workplace. Her issue is that, based on her experience, she would never join a lab where the PI works along with his/her spouse. She applied for a job for a research faculty position and, after successful interview, received the job. She was not informed about the PI’s spouse at the interview or thereafter. She was bitter that she had to find out about this by herself after she accepted the position. Her complaint was that the PI’s spouse acts like a second boss and she does not have much to say.
Scenario #7 -- Preferred Resolution The fact that the PI’s spouse works with the PI should be revealed upfront to those who apply for a job, so they can make their decision whether or not to accept working with this condition. If there is an issue of preferable treatment, one might also try to address it in a direct conversation with the PI. From the perspective of the PI, a strict separation between family and work should be implemented. An easy option for the PI would also be not to employ family members. For the other team members, if the situation affects significantly their needs of and there is no expect of improvement, the last resort is to change the workplace.
Scenario #7 -- Actual Resolution In case one, my colleague applied for a job in other place. The case number 2 is still unresolved. It is a delicate issue and requires a good sense of what is doable in a given situation.