From time to time, I find myself giving advice or making strong suggestions via this blog, although I am not much of an advice-giver in real life. As issues arise in the blog, however, I have been randomly numbering snippets of advice and referring to an imaginary guide to academic etiquette. I decided to scroll through the archives and extract some of these, giving them more realistic numbers and lining them up to see what I've suggested in the past.
A glance at the list shows that this is not a comprehensive list of all the things one might want or need to know to navigate through the academic environment, nor is it even a particularly sane list. Some of these items are probably more useful than others. Some are more serious than others. Some are simply strange. In any case, here it is:
FSP's Guide to Academic Etiquette
1. (for academic job applicants) Don’t write about your spouse in your application unless this information is relevant. Otherwise it is obnoxious.
2. (for interviewees) Don’t patronize young people, women, and/or staff during your interview unless you are a jerk. If you are a jerk, go ahead: this is important information.
3. After an interview, send a brief follow-up letter to the hiring committee and/or department Chair to emphasize your interest and to note any updates (new publications, thoughts based on your interview and interactions with students and others). Don't be too schmoozy – just be succinct and sincere and professional. If you don’t send a letter, that’s fine too, but a letter can cement the impression that you are serious about the job.
4. (for interviewers): Don’t ask illegal/unethical questions. If you don’t know what is permissible, find out in advance.
5. (for students and postdocs): If you are paid a salary, you should do the work.
6. (for students visiting a professor in his/her office): If you are going to ask a professor a question and you need to refer to your notes or a book, have these within easy reach, with pages marked.
7A. If someone writes a letter of reference for you, let them know the outcome of your applications.
7B. You don’t have to write to prospective graduate advisors to tell them you’ve decided to go elsewhere, but you should.
8. (for grad applicants) If you wait until the last minute to inform a department of your decision not to attend that program, you are eliminating opportunities for students on the waiting list. If you really didn't decide until the last minute, that's fine. If you know your decision but don't send the official declination of an offer until the last minute, that is selfish, however unintentional.
9. Don’t tell your advisor (or colleagues or students) what your therapist says about them.
10. Run a spell-checker before giving someone a manuscript or other document to read.
11. If you say to someone: "You reviewed my paper", assume that they might not remember this event as well as you do. Provide some supplementary information to help your former reviewer evaluate your statement; for example, ".. and I want to thank you for your useful comments." or ".. and I want you to know that the ignorance displayed by your review is truly staggering." [note: in FSP's Guide to Academic Etiquette, it is permitted to tell someone that they display staggering ignorance, as long as this is said politely and in context.]
12. When writing a review, even if you think the authors are wrong and you think that they have incorrect or inadequate citation of your work and you don’t like their data or their font or their interpretations or the way that they say that your work is flawed, write your criticisms in a constructive and professional way.
13. If you are a co-author, you should respond in a timely way to requests for comments, or at least provide some communication to work out a reasonable timescale within which you can provide input.
14. Before submitting anything for review, notify all co-authors and give them a chance to respond.
15. Only insult people who really deserve it.
16. Don’t be sneaky. Get your own ideas or collaborate. It’s fine to be inspired by someone else’s work, but there is a difference between inspiration and copying.
17. Don’t assume that women are their husbands. [note: that one might be cryptic without the accompanying anecdote]
18A. Don’t threaten or pinch people, even if they disagree with you.
18B. Don’t try to publish after you’re dead. [note: in the original post, these items were actually related]
19. Before introducing a speaker, ask them if they have a preference about what is said during the introduction. Most people won’t, but some may have some general (or specific) preferences about what to mention (e.g., dates, places, awards, crimes).
20. Thank people who help you, even if it is their job to do so.
21. Don’t assume that someone lacks ambition just because they don’t want to be a professor at a big research university.
22. Don’t boast about firing students. It is unseemly. You can of course talk about it, but don’t use these incidents to establish your hard-core credentials.
23. (for teachers) If someone gives you course materials, give some back when you get a chance.
24. Don’t make faculty meetings last longer than necessary unless you have something really important to say.
25. Don’t treat Female Science Professors as a lesser sub-species of Science Professors.
8 years ago