November 21, 2010

Abused PhD candidate

As a dissertation editor hired by a PhD candidate who is being emotionally abused by her adviser, I've been googling "grad-student abuse" to find out more about this sickness. I'm appalled how little is being exposed about this, and almost nothing that's recent. It appears to me that this adviser is sabotaging the grad student's work in order to keep her under her thumb as long as possible. This adviser is isolating the student in order to emotionally abuse her, keeping her on the phone all hours of the day and night. She's even ordered the student not to have contact with me. I've APA-edited the paper perfectly and the adviser continues to undo my work and revert to previous versions randomly, so no one knows what's in it anymore. All the while insisting that the student have it done YESTERDAY... The student is about to have a breakdown and it seems there's nothing I can do to help her, since she needs that lunatic's signature in order to submit her paper. How do students keep from murdering their advisers who are certifiably insane?



Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

1) Start immediately a diary of events and facts. List them in a dry manner, factually but also describe how these are affecting the victim's mental well-being. If there are witnesses, list them by name.

2) Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations that this particular university or department may have about protecting postgraduates - if it has any. Otherwise, familiarise yourself with policies that they may have on workplace bullying and harassment.

3) If you blow the whistle - and we do not necessarily recommend that you do so just yet - be aware that the university administration and management are likely to protect the abuser and not the victim. So, don't jump into any hasty decisions.

4) Share the story with people/persons you do trust and keep them informed of all abuses.

5) There is no straight forward solution. One needs to be strategic. Erratic reactions are not helpful and could be used against the victim.

6) If you can afford it, seek legal help or contact organisations that could be helpful BUT avoid publicity. It could backfire.

7) First chance, get out of there and do not look back. Then decide what you can do with your evidence.

8) Look after your health. Try to eat well, rest well, exercise. Remain as much as possible strong. You may have to battle it out for a while and you need all your energy.

Another victim of bullying at University of Newcastle, Australia said...

The bullying of grad students (in Australia also called postgraduate students) seems to be occurring with greater frequency. We have had reports of such bullying on our website
and in our survey. Students have had their funding used by their supervisors and their work presented as the supervisor's own. Also, beware anyone who stands up for these students - Michelle Adams, a senior lecturer from the University of Newcastle, complained about her student's work being presented by another academic as the academic's own work. As a result, the plagiarising academic has been "counselled" and Michelle has been bullied out of her job and faces a very uncertain future.

Anonymous said...

I have been through this while doing my PhD in Germany and I have seen other postgraduates bullied by supervisors, having their work stolen etc. The foreign postgraduates are the preferred targets. The deans of the university turn a blind eye. Everyone knows what is going on and nobody is doing nothing. Academia is a place where slavery is still flourishing.

Anonymous said...

video tape, video tape, video tape