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An Education in Etiquette

This week, Science Professor discusses the unstated rules of research, and how, for the most part, students learn them over time. One such tacit rule relates to submitting abstracts for review. "Years ago, when an undergraduate research student submitted an abstract with me as co-author and without showing me the abstract prior to submission ... I was mad because — when I eventually read the abstract — I saw that there were serious errors in content and writing," Science Professor says. "I found it hard to believe that this student thought it was appropriate to submit this without showing it to me or the other co-authors."

Later, though, she recalled that when that student had asked whether they should submit material for consideration for a particular conference, she had agreed, Science Professor says. As a result of having to withdraw that abstract from consideration, Science Professor says she now tries "to remember to specify to students ... that I want to see a draft before any submission of work in which I am involved."

In a comment to this post, EngineeringProf says that so long as a student doesn't knowingly violate etiquette, a mistake such as this should not be held against him or her. However, EngineeringProf adds that to prevent situations like these "you gotta talk about this stuff and have everyone on board." In another comment, STP says that students are not the only violators of this unspoken rule. "I had a colleague submit a paper with my name on it that I had not seen in any form. He thought he was doing me a favor by sparing me the time it would take to read [and] edit the paper," STP says. "He was not even particularly embarrassed when I pointed out that he had misspelled one of the names of a student co-author. I was very angry, mostly because he should have known better!"

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