Thursday, March 16, 2006

Drama! Among other things.

So the roommate's, ahem, I mean, neighbor's laundry thing was kind of an emergency: she had a wet pet disaster. And thought I was awake because my light was on (uh, hello, have to have a light on to read but am planning to go to sleep in about 10 minutes...???). Anyway she was very apologetic about completely screwing up my sleep schedule.

My solution? Get rid of the damn dog!.


Today was one of those days when sharing an office is worse than not having one at all. Phone ringing, people coming in and out all day, it was just awful because I was having a hard enough time focusing.

Now I'm home and trying to force myself to work in between bouts of wondering whether I should install the lastest software updates, but no, I should back everything up first, but I'm too lazy to do that right now so I should just wait on all of it and try to get a tiny bit of work done...

Had to laugh today at a very queenie email altercation over the degree of informality of a party one friend is throwing for another friend.

I mean, puhleeze. I have much bigger things to worry about.

Found out that the main thing I'm getting burned on in all of my applications is my advisor's recommendation letter. So I've been kind of seething over that and wondering if there's anything I can do to get out of the situation without getting totally screwed. For example, when I leave, do I ask her for a letter and then just not send it? Not ask at all? She loves to blame everything on sexism but the fact of the matter is, she doesn't go out of her way to help other women, so why does she think she deserves any help from anyone?

Meanwhile, keep coming back to thinking about how my advisor actually told me to commit what I'm pretty sure is an unethical act of withholding data that don't fit with my model.

I didn't say anything, I just looked at her, wishing I had a tape recorder.

Needless to say, I have no intention of following her advice on this matter, despite knowing it will likely make her respect me even less. She already complains about how much she resents that no one ever does what she suggests, which isn't actually true. But I can sympathize because I get annoyed when people ask my opinion and then don't follow my advice.

But I would never tell someone to do something scientifically unethical.

Now I'm wondering when is the first politically safe time for me to report her for this sort of thing. When I leave? After I leave? When I have my own lab? I'm thinking doing it next week would be too obvious.

Rewind a little: I think she started losing respect for me when I told her I thought one of the things I was working on was an artifact. Turned out that it was, but I hadn't lost that much time and it was fixable. When I got the right reagents, I was that much happier when my hypothesis appeared to be correct, because I was pretty sure I had ruled out all the really insidious artifacts.

Here I thought I was being brave and honest to admit that it was my mistake and I didn't want to pursue something I wasn't convinced was real, even though it was something she was excited about and it meant I'd have to redo a lot of experiments that looked like they had worked as expected.

A friend of mine got kicked out of grad school over a similar incident with a female professor... really fucking scary, when it comes right down to it. Would hate to think that women are more likely than men to fudge data or withhold information deliberately. I remember there was a little blurb a while back in the news about how men were more likely to refuse to share data or reagents, but I think that was different from unethical publishing conduct.

Yuck. Science is hard enough without people trying every possible angle to sabotage your efforts at having both integrity and a successful career.

Are the two things really mutually exclusive? I'm beginning to think they are.


At 3:18 AM, Blogger Crazy L said...

death to annoying neighbors. I'm so ready to throttle mine.. good to see others fighting that fight

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Bill Hooker said...

Here I thought I was being brave and honest to admit that it was my mistake and I didn't want to pursue something I wasn't convinced was real

You were right. I don't know enough about your situation to say anything about reporting your PI over the more recent problem, but you are right not to withhold data and you are right to be upfront when you think you've got an artefact. Right as in factually correct, right as in morally correct. Kudos.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had same type of problem with my female major prof as a grad student in the bio sciences (and I'm female). Scary to think this might be even weakly tied to gender!


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