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I have never known a nice professor. Or maybe I have known some, but I have never worked with one.

This rant comes to my mind because I'm right now waiting for an email from a professor. I wrote him two days ago and I'm super certain that he's read my email, because frankly, academics refresh their email five times a day (because they find their career more interesting than anything on the smartphone).

He's not the first professor or PI to do so. I've known a couple who have done the same. They just don't answer emails because a) the person annoys them, b) they find the person uninteresting, c) some sadistic reason. I find this really f*** irritating. When I was a kid, I was thought that you can say yes or no, depending on what you think.

And this is of course just the peak of the iceberg. Typically, people who make it to the professor level backstab, twist the rules, lie and conspire all the time. It seems that the real motivation for most of them is to get just more and more money. But if they are that way, why are they in the academia in the first place?

I wonder if other people have similar experiences?

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I think that professors are probably no different than any other professional of similar accomplishment. Twisting the rules and backstabbing are not confined to academia.

I have known some pretty awesome professors, and some who are assholes. If your experience is different, part of it might be you.

 

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Professors are neither less nice nor more than the average person, in my experience.

They're far busier than the average person though. Paperwork, teaching, exams, research, other academic duties... Work tends to spill over out of hours.

Two days without getting an answer is not enough to judge a person as "an asshole" IMHO.

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My friend, who is a uni admin head, assures me it's not just professors... they are all retarded, from lecturers upwards. I get it in the ear everytime I have a coffee with her at her house, where she's homeworking. :D More seriously, I would imagine their inbox is overflowing with requests.

Edited by StringJunky
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3 hours ago, To_Mars_and_Beyond said:

I wonder if other people have similar experiences?

Singling out professors seems like you're labeling a whole group of people based on the behavior of some of them. IOW, discrimination. Also, you base your appraisal of their intentions and motivations on a LOT of assumptions. Are you reading minds to get all that info about why they do the things they do?

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@To_Mars_and_Beyond this is due to overwhelming work they have, on top private life too, simply now this the reality, with recent introduction of e-teaching this could be easen as  interactive Q&A sessions, but until there not introduced Institutional and Academic eForums like this one but focused on particular science in some university till then any progress will depend on good will lucky circumstances and slow push-pull debate!

if this was case i.e. You had have Academic eForum other students will maybe answer on Your question, maybe already answered to others by the Professors , what would be moderated by the Assistants or Doctorants, thus any inconvenience like this one would be easily avoided, aside the chanse for more profound learning through constant debate, altho it would need two versions of the forum for more stiff debate among professors and students and another on the same topics among the students, maybe cross'linking point between both, but eventually the main would purified clean talk while long and wide elaboration on personal student notion will go in the "Double eFroum"

sadly we have good eTools but misusing them en'masse, debating on soc.nets chit'chating on eForums and blogging in newspapers, wrong the last as media should exactly pickpocket certain debate from eForums or showcase from b/v'logs and present to the public as interesting, while now trying to throw them as statements in one pile as news article debate [1][1] yet this kind of reform takes time and maybe we could see it in the next century, even SF as forum need constant reshaping and that simply dont goes smooth [1] for start indent paragraph button should be introduced, then when citing outside sources rule for indent quote etc. its more word for more loosen first site viability etc. etc. anyway as eForum is 4+ :D and must admit I like it ...

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4 hours ago, timo said:

In most cases, two days to reply to an email is not considered much (and neither would a week).

Which shows that you're a professor! 😄

Seriously though, I think you can make justified generalizations between different professional groups. Mine are just based on personal observations but you might do this in a more scientific way...

Anyway, my favorite group to work with are in fact medical doctors. They're like "do what you want, just give me the estimate by Monday". That's probably because they don't see any geek as their competitor, and that's why they can afford to be nice. Why O why did I ever leave the hospital...? Another explanation is that they know how real mistakes look like - so they don't bitch about italics and Oxford commas. Which is one thing I find super frustrating about nerds in general, not just professors. 

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I'm a tenure track professor. 

I usually get somewhere between 50 and 100 emails a day. I allocate about 45 mins twice a day to responding to them. I sort them by importance, then I answer in order until the time is up. Then I delete the rest. Emails go unanswered every day because I could literally spend the entirety of every single day responding to them, and I have teaching, research and administration to do. I tell my students that if it's important, send it again and tag it as important, or if it's important AND urgent, bang on my office door or call my phone. 

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8 hours ago, To_Mars_and_Beyond said:

I have never known a nice professor. Or maybe I have known some, but I have never worked with one.

This rant comes to my mind because I'm right now waiting for an email from a professor. I wrote him two days ago and I'm super certain that he's read my email, because frankly, academics refresh their email five times a day (because they find their career more interesting than anything on the smartphone).

He's not the first professor or PI to do so. I've known a couple who have done the same. They just don't answer emails because a) the person annoys them, b) they find the person uninteresting, c) some sadistic reason. I find this really f*** irritating. When I was a kid, I was thought that you can say yes or no, depending on what you think.

And this is of course just the peak of the iceberg. Typically, people who make it to the professor level backstab, twist the rules, lie and conspire all the time. It seems that the real motivation for most of them is to get just more and more money. But if they are that way, why are they in the academia in the first place?

I wonder if other people have similar experiences?

Funny, I have experienced far different...I have on various occasions, when confronted with questions and/or debatable situations, E-Mailed a few professors over the years on matters in their field and have received replies, three that come to mind being Geraint Lewis,  Kip Thorne and another Andrew Hamilton.

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So... the guy who thinks profs are arses is not treated with respect by profs.
The other people are treated with respect.
I wonder if those observations are related.

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17 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

So... the guy who thinks profs are arses is not treated with respect by profs.
The other people are treated with respect.
I wonder if those observations are related.

I have a long draft post that says the same thing in a roundabout way. I've binned mine and given yours appropriate commendation.

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4 hours ago, Arete said:

I'm a tenure track professor. 

I usually get somewhere between 50 and 100 emails a day. I allocate about 45 mins twice a day to responding to them. I sort them by importance, then I answer in order until the time is up. Then I delete the rest. Emails go unanswered every day because I could literally spend the entirety of every single day responding to them, and I have teaching, research and administration to do. I tell my students that if it's important, send it again and tag it as important, or if it's important AND urgent, bang on my office door or call my phone. 

This or something similar is pretty much the same tactic everyone I know use. There is no other way to keep up with the workload. Though deleting seems like an interesting idea that I have not thought about- usually stuff just lingers in my inbox (and I have unanswered emails going back years on my conscience that I really should delete). Yes, there are the zero inbox methods or focused inbox and so on, but at some point (mostly around grant deadlines) things break down on my end.

I have allocated a bit more time to emails as my teaching load has been reduced but I have set my inbox on refresh only every 3 hours or so. I found that if I finally found some precious time for writing, inbox notifications tend to destroy my focus. 

I know a colleague who is extremely successful with tons of collaborations all over the globe. When she showed me her inbox after an hour working on them there were still over 400 unread emails to go through (for the same day). Usually in her case showing up physically (even if you need to take a plane) can be faster. But also in her case she really prioritizes her undergrads with a patience that I can only admire. But it also means that some projects end up in email hell...

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