Some recent conversions with an old friend have reminded me how bad things might go in Science! Not because experiments might go wrong or even because our hypothesis were a complete mess but just because someone in a higher academic position has decided not be…let’s say “supportive”. And then, just today, this amazingly written article appears in Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v525/n7569/full/nj7569-413a.html, clearly stating some unspoken situations that we all heard about! Unfortunately, some comments on that article really reflect very hard situations and although clearly stating that many young PhD students “do not always have the interpersonal experience to handle rocky relationships“ it also states that “There are some aggressive advisers who like the power and just want to see a person get destroyed (…) Instead of letting a student defend a thesis and receive a PhD, they ask for one more rewrite or one more experiment, not because the work is crucial, but to remind the student who is really in command”.
So, today, this post goes to that friend (and many more in the same situation), as well as to my students, as a reminder that tears and career angst should never be allowed since those situations are nothing more than a twisted scientific form of bullying. Fortunately, there are still good PIs out there 🙂