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Old   December 17, 2003, 04:41
Default Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #1
YesMan
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Dear Forum

Is there help out there. I am phd student in Germany near the end, I realize near the end it is tough but I feel I have been mentally abuse by my professor, is there anything I can do. Does a PhD student have rights, can I say No?

Examples,

On numereous occasions I have been threatened, in regards that if I do not change my way he will end the coorepartion.

I recieve a stipend from him and I am forced to do work for the institute on top of my research and phd studies. (A stipend is less money than a contract [BATII] with the university)

When I ask a question, I am first told that this is what 2nd year engineering students already knows.

Whenever he finds a mistake, the first response is, if you made a mistake here how many other ones are there.

3 times I was "asked" to drive him to pick up furniture for his house since I have a VW bus.

When I tell him I do not have time for something, he says, "that is not my problem, you wanted to take vacation".

The three years that I have been here 3phd students have quit, 1 post doc., and 1 student (Diplomarbeiten) worker.

I discuss these problems with the secretary of the Dean, and then I was told by the boss (C-4) of my professor (C-3) that if I were to do this in industry I would be fired for it, because I went above or around my professors boss, he told me these problems are to stay in the institute and that nobody outside cares about my problems.

Anyone interested in doing a PhD in Germany, the only thing you need to know, is how to say

Yes or Jawohl!

Kind Regards, YesMan
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Old   December 17, 2003, 05:55
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #2
P. Birken
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Dear YesMan,

there is no need to diss Germany because of your experience. Nevertheless, take my sympathy for your situation. It is difficult to really judge and evaluate your situation from afar, but maybe this might help: -it is quite usual that the engineering PhD student works for his institute and not only for his research. -going to the dean before all other possibilities inside the institute were explored is indeed a bad move. -if you don't want anymore to work for your professor or don't see getting a PhD in the next two years, you should consider quitting. The possibilities of finding a PhD position in Germany are rather good at the moment.

Regarding your question: Unfortunately I fear that your leverage is quite small. You cannot force your advisor to advise you, meaning that you have to sort it out with him reasonably and as unemotionally as possible.

Sincerely yours,

P. Birken
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Old   December 17, 2003, 08:48
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #3
anon
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welcome to the arrogance of academics!
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Old   December 17, 2003, 09:10
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #4
Bob
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You would not get fired in industry for doing that ! Stand up to him. If he kicks you out then thats his problem, and things will be hard for him to have to justify this ! If he asks you to pick up furniture, just say No. If things are as bad as it sounds, then you may find that just leaving is your best option, as you will feel a lot of relief. But do what is ask of you academically, but nothing else. Its amazing how many people in the world are like that though, not all, but there are a lot. Good luck, and you get all my sympathy ! Bob
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Old   December 17, 2003, 10:19
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #5
No_man
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Nothing to do with the Germans, it's happening all over... Everyone of us has been where you are right now (no support, lack of self-esteem, yadderyadder... some even try to befriend their boss ....

What u need is a change of strategy. Seems you have been the nice guy for too long.

- Start to say No!!!

- Take the human component out of your business life

- Stop expecting anything from your boss and ignore his winding-you-up mentality.

- Slack him off where you can. Stand your ground.

- Be cheeky but matter-of-factly.

After all, what's the worst that could happen in your present situation. You can turn it round(!) but you have to do it yourself.
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Old   December 17, 2003, 11:43
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #6
Steve
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It could be worse. Your professor could be getting rich by selling your work as his own or that of his company.
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Old   December 17, 2003, 23:24
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #7
Tom
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FYI, the verbal bullying and mental distress inflicted upon you is extremely common in the educational realm of medicine, and routinely gets worse as one progresses through medical school and into residency. Every single doctor practicing today could tell you stories about some jackass or another acting as bad or worse than what you describe. You can answer your question by asking yourself if what you will gain (a PhD) is worth what you are putting up with. Incidentally, please don't harrass people who will work under you in the future. tom
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Old   December 18, 2003, 01:59
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #8
Des Aubery
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Perhaps another approach would be to request a meeting with him behind closed doors. Both sit on a comfortable chair & tell him what you are feeling & why - be direct. Also apologise if he has become offended by your 'going above his head' with your complaints. Let him also have his say - & LISTEN. He may have some very valid criticisms.

In other words, try to basically 'begin the relationship again - but on a more secure foundation'.

I have found the Germans to have a tough, abrasive exterior - but a decent, well-meaning heart... Sort it out 'man-to-man' & not 'man-to-many'... I am sure that you will be able to clear the air.

Cheers,

Des Aubery... (adTherm Technology - www.adtherm.com - des@adtherm.com)
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Old   December 18, 2003, 05:05
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #9
Bojan Niceno
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Dear YesMan,

do not blame Germany for the situation you are in. I was doing my PhD in the Netherlands and had, apart from the vW truck, the same experience. So I do sympatize a lot.

Some may say that talking to Dean was the bad move. I do not agree, it was not pragmatic, all right, but there was a great deal of courage in doing that. Someone must stand against the abuse, otherwise it will never stop.

If your C-4 told you what he did, he is no better than your C-3, so to hell with both of them. Plus, your C-4 is a liar, I work in industry, and I've seen people complaining two steps above many times and I do not remember anyone being fired for that. You are obviously surrounded by worthless human beings.

I think it is up to you ... if you want a PhD very badly, suffer the pressure and defend your PhD. If not, to hell with those individuals and find yourself a better job. There are better places to work, beleive me.

Bojan

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Old   December 18, 2003, 07:32
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #10
Li Yang
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YesMan, believe me, you can not win by arguing with such kind of supervisors (whether they are Germans or from other nations). You will suffer more than ever in the future if you try to prove your supervisor's behaviour is wrong. You will still lose the battle even if you can prove he is wrong. You can only argue with a supervisor who is willing to listen to his student.

The best solution is to find another nicer supervisor QUIETLY within your university or department or institute and then get rid of your current supervisor. In this way, you can carry on what you are doing and you will get your PhD at the same time as you expected, if not sooner, without suffering from further humiliation.

If you can not do this and still want a PhD, try to please him, do whatever he wants you to do, buy him and his family some nice gifts, try to improve the relationship with him and the boss. Then get your PhD as soon as possible, better within half a year.

Best wishes

Li
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Old   December 18, 2003, 21:02
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #11
David
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Oh, a poor guy, why did you select Germany to do your phd? As far as I know or experience I have, Germany is not a good place to do research. There is definitely no use to quarrel with your supervisor. This can only do harm to you. Why not consider USA or British? I suggest you now trying to contact professors in these two countries and prepare your documents secretly required (I mean don't let your German professor know). After everything is ready, then say goodbye to Germany forever. You will find you really can learn a lot in these two countries.

Good luck!
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Old   December 18, 2003, 23:12
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #12
John
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Just a reminder to pevious message (David),

Ethics and personal things has nothing to do with country, university, and originality of the research. Noboday can say this country is better or not in the way this country doesn't abuse you. There are both good and bad guys in all countries. The most important things to consider when one starts to study somewhere and under someone is:

1) Professor's quality of research 2) His/her ethics 3) University fame 4) The city you're going to live!!! (not kidding, this is especially the case for US where some excellent univs are located in small towns and some of their professors, after they get tenure, change their university just because of that!!!)

There are very good universities in Germany as well as very good professors ethically and technically there (I'm not German nor am I studying there). So, we should not try to divide countries based on our own experience(s) or interests (I've personally heared many bad things about UK univs anf profs, but I don't think these are globally the case). We should try not to generalize the specific stories and experiences about a country, Think globally and give only good advice to someone who really needs it!!
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Old   December 19, 2003, 05:22
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #13
George
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Please don't post such kind of message on this forum becuase it's unrelevant to CFD!

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Old   December 19, 2003, 06:29
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #14
Jonas Larsson
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Many PhD students working with CFD research visit this forum. Also, many of us has previously been PhD students and can share our experience with others. Hence, from my point of view this type of discussion is completely within the scope of this forum. I even think that it is good for this forum to also cover the social and human aspects of being a CFD researcher.
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Old   December 19, 2003, 08:38
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #15
Anon
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The original post was a bit whiney, but his point was valid.

From my experience, PhD students in the CFD field are generally treated as cheap labour by aspiring Professors. When I was at a well known UK College in the late 80's there was a dark room at the end of a long corridor full of overseas PhD students - all dilligently hacking away at some kind of CFD code. I wonder what ever happened to that?
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Old   December 19, 2003, 16:17
Default Re: Mental-Abuse-of-PhD-Students
  #16
Father Dougal
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You've got a VW bus???? Brilliant.
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