Citing paywalled articles accessed via illegal web sharing

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80

There are a few sites which offer paid articles for free. It’s something unethical, especially for those who upload to that site, but for me, it’s good for expanding knowledge.

As a readers, can we cite those documents, and can the editorial board know that I’m using those articles?

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  • 22

    This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

    – Robert Columbia
    Feb 26 at 18:04

  • 14

    That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

    – Dan Fox
    Feb 26 at 20:26

  • 64

    Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

    – tomasz
    Feb 26 at 22:34

  • 18

    @tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

    – vsz
    Feb 27 at 5:41

  • 11

    @DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

    – Acccumulation
    Feb 27 at 18:12

80

There are a few sites which offer paid articles for free. It’s something unethical, especially for those who upload to that site, but for me, it’s good for expanding knowledge.

As a readers, can we cite those documents, and can the editorial board know that I’m using those articles?

share|improve this question

  • 22

    This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

    – Robert Columbia
    Feb 26 at 18:04

  • 14

    That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

    – Dan Fox
    Feb 26 at 20:26

  • 64

    Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

    – tomasz
    Feb 26 at 22:34

  • 18

    @tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

    – vsz
    Feb 27 at 5:41

  • 11

    @DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

    – Acccumulation
    Feb 27 at 18:12

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12

There are a few sites which offer paid articles for free. It’s something unethical, especially for those who upload to that site, but for me, it’s good for expanding knowledge.

As a readers, can we cite those documents, and can the editorial board know that I’m using those articles?

share|improve this question

There are a few sites which offer paid articles for free. It’s something unethical, especially for those who upload to that site, but for me, it’s good for expanding knowledge.

As a readers, can we cite those documents, and can the editorial board know that I’m using those articles?

publications citations ethics

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edited Feb 27 at 13:42

Syafiq Zaidi

asked Feb 26 at 9:42

Syafiq ZaidiSyafiq Zaidi

413129

413129

  • 22

    This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

    – Robert Columbia
    Feb 26 at 18:04

  • 14

    That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

    – Dan Fox
    Feb 26 at 20:26

  • 64

    Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

    – tomasz
    Feb 26 at 22:34

  • 18

    @tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

    – vsz
    Feb 27 at 5:41

  • 11

    @DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

    – Acccumulation
    Feb 27 at 18:12

  • 22

    This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

    – Robert Columbia
    Feb 26 at 18:04

  • 14

    That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

    – Dan Fox
    Feb 26 at 20:26

  • 64

    Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

    – tomasz
    Feb 26 at 22:34

  • 18

    @tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

    – vsz
    Feb 27 at 5:41

  • 11

    @DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

    – Acccumulation
    Feb 27 at 18:12

22

22

This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

– Robert Columbia
Feb 26 at 18:04

This is a great question. It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”). Does this sound right?

– Robert Columbia
Feb 26 at 18:04

14

14

That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

– Dan Fox
Feb 26 at 20:26

That the provenance of a source actually used be questionable in no way makes it anything other than completely unethical to fail to cite the source that has been used. This seems entirely obvious.

– Dan Fox
Feb 26 at 20:26

64

64

Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

– tomasz
Feb 26 at 22:34

Note that illegal and unethical are not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, many academics (also on this site) do not consider illegal access to articles behind paywall to be at all unethical.

– tomasz
Feb 26 at 22:34

18

18

@tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

– vsz
Feb 27 at 5:41

@tomasz : also, in many jurisdictions, it’s not the downloading is what is illegal (or at least enforceably illegal), but the uploading to such sites.

– vsz
Feb 27 at 5:41

11

11

@DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

– Acccumulation
Feb 27 at 18:12

@DanFox You certainly didn’t fail to avoid omitting double negatives there.

– Acccumulation
Feb 27 at 18:12

8 Answers
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128

  1. Nobody will know how you have gained access to the article. Feel free to cite articles found via whatever sources.

  2. It might not even be illegal to download content from the website; check your local laws and Berne convention (if your country is signed up) to be sure. In any case, this is unlikely to affect your reputation in any way.

  3. Remember to cite the source appropriately; a journal or a book, not a pirate website or any other medium. The pirate website is usually not the publisher. You do not cite the university that has bought access to research (probably funded by public sources and peer reviewed by academicians funded by public sources), or the colleguage who shows you an article, or the library that contained a copy of the article; these all have the same role as pirate website.

  4. You might not want to be vocal about using such a website. Some people still see it as ethically questionable. That said, using various pirate websites is increasingly common, and the status of many academic publishers among academians seems to have taken some hits, so many researchers will not care about how you get your articles.

  5. You also have the ethics tag on the question. The ethics of pirating digital material are a polarized subject. You might want to do your own research here, or ask a new question for what the main arguments for both sides are, if it has not been asked already. Some people say that pirating material is analogous to physical theft, while others say that intellectual monopoly laws are bad and breaking them creates more good than ill. (I happen to think the laws are far too strong and harm humanity, and should be weakened substantially or entirely removed.) I strongly suggest reading on the matter until you have found strong statements of both points of view to come to an informed decision.

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  • 38

    Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

    – anonymous
    Feb 26 at 16:14

  • 2

    @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

    – tomasz
    Feb 26 at 22:37

  • 1

    @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

    – anonymous
    Feb 26 at 23:47

  • 4

    @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

    – Tasos Papastylianou
    Feb 27 at 17:03

  • 2

    The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

    – dwizum
    Feb 27 at 17:32

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If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need for research just by visiting your university’s library and asking for a copy of the article. This is nearly always available to you. If you are grant funded, then grant funds can probably be used to obtain the necessary papers if the university cannot get them. In the US, even my town library has been able to get me access to things just by asking and because they have developed relationships with other (university) libraries. Small universities can have formal relationships with large research universities to “borrow” books and articles.

Likewise, borrowing the resources of colleagues is permitted. If s/he has a legal copy s/he can print it. The printed copy can be loaned to you. There are no issues with this at all.

So, the situation you describe should be rare if you do a bit of legwork.

But if you cite something, cite a legal repository, not a website known to pirate academic work. You don’t need to actually own a copy of a paper to cite it, but it is probably a mistake (for your reputation) to flaunt illegal or unethical access.

It probably isn’t as difficult or as costly as you imagine to do the right thing.

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  • 19

    Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

    – guifa
    Feb 26 at 13:43

  • 7

    @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

    – guifa
    Feb 26 at 14:07

  • 6

    @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

    – Dave L Renfro
    Feb 27 at 6:56

  • 5

    If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

    – Federico Poloni
    Feb 27 at 7:40

  • 4

    @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

    – cbeleites
    Feb 27 at 17:16

2

Would you incriminate yourself?

For some articles, the abstract is so clear and concise that it effectively says everything you need to know in order to cite it. I’ve previously been advised when writing abstracts for articles in paywall journals to make sure someone could cite the article without actually having it. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, but it is very much possible to cite an article purely based on the abstract, which you would have access to without acquiring the article anyway.

In short, if I see someone cite an article and I somehow know that they have not paid for access to it, I’d assume they’ve cited it based on the abstract.

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  • 26

    I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

    – Jack Aidley
    Feb 26 at 15:00

  • We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

    – E. Rei
    Feb 27 at 16:24

  • @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

    – P. G.
    Feb 27 at 16:58

  • 1

    @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

    – kap
    Feb 28 at 13:58

  • 1

    By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

    – user105041
    Feb 28 at 14:54

2

First, you have to cite if something is relevant for your work! It has nothing to do with how you aquired the article, and even if you do not have the article, just know the abstract or one particular result that is relevent, cite it! (big insight after I worked in academia, seldomly the articles cited are also read in entirety).

By the way, in academia authors get NO money from their articles, it is all done for reputation in the scientific community; so by not citing you actually do more harm to the individual who wrote the article then by the act of downloading (where maybe just the publisher loses money). And by the way for scientific articles the system works a little bit different, it is seldom the case that an individual buys individual articles (and if they like to they are tredemnously expensive). They are either acquired by your library through subscription, by interlibrary loan (many libraries are connected by networks), given to you by the authors themselve (once I just got a copy from an article that is hard to get in person from the authors send by post after asking him at a conference), or nowadays by the way you asked for… I will not judge what is unethical here but after reading this (or being in academia for yourself some time) you might view it a little bit different…

So, if nothing works you usually end up not getting the article at all!

Sidenote, this is a little bit different for books as the authors get some money from them, not much in academia too. But for non-academic books where the authors have to life from the money it is definitely unethical, but this is an entirely different system. Do not judge and confuse it by that (which people might do here if they compare it to robbery, netflix etc…).

Also if you do not cite something relevant some reviewer of your article will probable notice and either point you to the literature, or if it is a well-known article might conclude that you have done a bad review of the literature yourself.

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    1

    Robert Columbia’s framing of the question:

    It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”).

    For discussion purposes, I’m going to go contrary to the accepted answer and say yes.

    First, if you’re using ideas that are not your own, you definitely have to cite the source. Failure to do that is plagiarism. With respect to avoiding plagiarism, it doesn’t matter where you got the ideas; credit is due.

    However, inaccurately citing where you got the source makes it harder for others to trace that back to the source.

    In some cases, the content posted to a pirate website looks like or maybe is labeled as a copy of the content from the original source, but in fact has different content.

    I have wasted many hours trying to figure out why an author cites X for assertion Y, when in some cases they were actually citing a hidden X’ which differed from X on, among other things, assertion Y. I would have much appreciated if the author had included a citation like:

    J. Ixsom, P. Smiflich, and D. Seuss: “Methods for safely pipetting oxyflogated dexlahydrates at STP.” 23rd Annual Conference on Unusual Chemistry (CUC ’17) London. Retrieved Jan. 18, 2019 from https://authorsite.org/pdf/1234.56789.

    Then I have all the usual citation information about who published that and where, and in most cases I can go to that source and get it from them. In this case, the publisher gets an extra sale from the author having cited that work, regardless of how the author obtained it. However, if I can’t find support for what’s being asserted, I can then trace through to what the author actually looked at. If there’s a difference, I can more quickly debug. I might see how the author was led astray and be able to resolve the issue another way. Without that link to what the author is actually citing, though, it’s very hard to determine the basis for that assertion, and requiring that extra work is a negative impact caused by a difference between the source the author claimed and the source the author actually used.

    Also, note that content differences are not all malicious, and the “authoritative” record is not always better from a content perspective. Sometimes, authors posting a file on their own website, with the publisher’s permission, will update those files (e.g. correcting a mistake in a formula) and then the formula being used in the citing article looks different than the one it’s being cited for. (To authors: If you do this, please explicitly call it out as a correction.)

    Sometimes, the differences are honeypots intentionally inserted by publishers designed to get the message out that only official sites can be relied upon for accurate information.

    share|improve this answer

    • Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

      – JeffE
      Mar 8 at 11:15

    • Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

      – WBT
      Mar 8 at 21:23

    • That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

      – JeffE
      Mar 9 at 18:44

    • @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

      – WBT
      Mar 11 at 13:07

    0

    Just cite the paper properly (e.g. take into account where the article was originally published), obviously don’t cite Alexandra Elbakyan. Seriously, nobody cares and nobody can find out anyway. And the people who care have a very bad case of boy scout/teacher’s pet disease. The editorial houses are rent-seeking rackets that profit from publicly funded research and hard labour of academics. And they still have the nerve to paywall it. Anyone that feels bad about avoiding that needs to do a deep reflection on their moral priorities.

    share|improve this answer

      -5

      can we cite [(possibly) illegally obtained] documents[?]

      Yes, but you might be incriminating yourself, if legal access isn’t plausible.

      can editorial board know…if I’m using those articles?

      No. At least, not without collaboration.

      EDIT: I’m flabbergasted that a factual correct answer has four down votes. Especially as an answer that appeared afterwards, with essentially the same message is being up-voted. It makes be question why I bother helping people.

      share|improve this answer

      • 17

        You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 26 at 10:10

      • 8

        And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

        – E. Rei
        Feb 26 at 10:18

      • 1

        @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 26 at 12:53

      • 10

        @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

        – David Richerby
        Feb 26 at 15:42

      • 8

        @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

        – Mason Wheeler
        Feb 26 at 19:31

      -8

      Isn’t this the same thing as breaking into a house and stealing everything, then asking if it’s ethical to watch Netflix using the victim’s account?

      You are asking the wrong question.

      The unethicalness occurred long before the question of attribution arose. The publishers of the papers placed a value on them.. and you, for whatever reason, chose to obtain the document from a thief rather than the publisher. Just because “everyone else” is doing it and it’s “wink wink” accepted practice in no way makes the act of theft ethical. Everything that follows from that act is then tainted by the original act of thievery.

      So to recap…

      • Pirate steals from publisher.
      • You obtain copy of document from pirate, making you at best an accomplice and at worst a thief yourself.
      • Question of ethics regarding attribution of stolen documents in your own paper is really not a valid question at this point.
      share|improve this answer

      • 19

        And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

        – Tommi Brander
        Feb 27 at 8:49

      • 3

        Also, this does not really answer the question.

        – Tommi Brander
        Feb 27 at 8:49

      • 3

        This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

        – Ruther Rendommeleigh
        Feb 27 at 8:55

      • 2

        @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

        – user2768
        Feb 28 at 8:12

      • 1

        Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

        – Sam Axe
        Feb 28 at 10:40

      protected by Alexandros Feb 28 at 19:19

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      8 Answers
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      1. Nobody will know how you have gained access to the article. Feel free to cite articles found via whatever sources.

      2. It might not even be illegal to download content from the website; check your local laws and Berne convention (if your country is signed up) to be sure. In any case, this is unlikely to affect your reputation in any way.

      3. Remember to cite the source appropriately; a journal or a book, not a pirate website or any other medium. The pirate website is usually not the publisher. You do not cite the university that has bought access to research (probably funded by public sources and peer reviewed by academicians funded by public sources), or the colleguage who shows you an article, or the library that contained a copy of the article; these all have the same role as pirate website.

      4. You might not want to be vocal about using such a website. Some people still see it as ethically questionable. That said, using various pirate websites is increasingly common, and the status of many academic publishers among academians seems to have taken some hits, so many researchers will not care about how you get your articles.

      5. You also have the ethics tag on the question. The ethics of pirating digital material are a polarized subject. You might want to do your own research here, or ask a new question for what the main arguments for both sides are, if it has not been asked already. Some people say that pirating material is analogous to physical theft, while others say that intellectual monopoly laws are bad and breaking them creates more good than ill. (I happen to think the laws are far too strong and harm humanity, and should be weakened substantially or entirely removed.) I strongly suggest reading on the matter until you have found strong statements of both points of view to come to an informed decision.

      share|improve this answer

      • 38

        Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 16:14

      • 2

        @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

        – tomasz
        Feb 26 at 22:37

      • 1

        @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 23:47

      • 4

        @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

        – Tasos Papastylianou
        Feb 27 at 17:03

      • 2

        The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

        – dwizum
        Feb 27 at 17:32

      128

      1. Nobody will know how you have gained access to the article. Feel free to cite articles found via whatever sources.

      2. It might not even be illegal to download content from the website; check your local laws and Berne convention (if your country is signed up) to be sure. In any case, this is unlikely to affect your reputation in any way.

      3. Remember to cite the source appropriately; a journal or a book, not a pirate website or any other medium. The pirate website is usually not the publisher. You do not cite the university that has bought access to research (probably funded by public sources and peer reviewed by academicians funded by public sources), or the colleguage who shows you an article, or the library that contained a copy of the article; these all have the same role as pirate website.

      4. You might not want to be vocal about using such a website. Some people still see it as ethically questionable. That said, using various pirate websites is increasingly common, and the status of many academic publishers among academians seems to have taken some hits, so many researchers will not care about how you get your articles.

      5. You also have the ethics tag on the question. The ethics of pirating digital material are a polarized subject. You might want to do your own research here, or ask a new question for what the main arguments for both sides are, if it has not been asked already. Some people say that pirating material is analogous to physical theft, while others say that intellectual monopoly laws are bad and breaking them creates more good than ill. (I happen to think the laws are far too strong and harm humanity, and should be weakened substantially or entirely removed.) I strongly suggest reading on the matter until you have found strong statements of both points of view to come to an informed decision.

      share|improve this answer

      • 38

        Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 16:14

      • 2

        @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

        – tomasz
        Feb 26 at 22:37

      • 1

        @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 23:47

      • 4

        @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

        – Tasos Papastylianou
        Feb 27 at 17:03

      • 2

        The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

        – dwizum
        Feb 27 at 17:32

      128

      128

      128

      1. Nobody will know how you have gained access to the article. Feel free to cite articles found via whatever sources.

      2. It might not even be illegal to download content from the website; check your local laws and Berne convention (if your country is signed up) to be sure. In any case, this is unlikely to affect your reputation in any way.

      3. Remember to cite the source appropriately; a journal or a book, not a pirate website or any other medium. The pirate website is usually not the publisher. You do not cite the university that has bought access to research (probably funded by public sources and peer reviewed by academicians funded by public sources), or the colleguage who shows you an article, or the library that contained a copy of the article; these all have the same role as pirate website.

      4. You might not want to be vocal about using such a website. Some people still see it as ethically questionable. That said, using various pirate websites is increasingly common, and the status of many academic publishers among academians seems to have taken some hits, so many researchers will not care about how you get your articles.

      5. You also have the ethics tag on the question. The ethics of pirating digital material are a polarized subject. You might want to do your own research here, or ask a new question for what the main arguments for both sides are, if it has not been asked already. Some people say that pirating material is analogous to physical theft, while others say that intellectual monopoly laws are bad and breaking them creates more good than ill. (I happen to think the laws are far too strong and harm humanity, and should be weakened substantially or entirely removed.) I strongly suggest reading on the matter until you have found strong statements of both points of view to come to an informed decision.

      share|improve this answer

      1. Nobody will know how you have gained access to the article. Feel free to cite articles found via whatever sources.

      2. It might not even be illegal to download content from the website; check your local laws and Berne convention (if your country is signed up) to be sure. In any case, this is unlikely to affect your reputation in any way.

      3. Remember to cite the source appropriately; a journal or a book, not a pirate website or any other medium. The pirate website is usually not the publisher. You do not cite the university that has bought access to research (probably funded by public sources and peer reviewed by academicians funded by public sources), or the colleguage who shows you an article, or the library that contained a copy of the article; these all have the same role as pirate website.

      4. You might not want to be vocal about using such a website. Some people still see it as ethically questionable. That said, using various pirate websites is increasingly common, and the status of many academic publishers among academians seems to have taken some hits, so many researchers will not care about how you get your articles.

      5. You also have the ethics tag on the question. The ethics of pirating digital material are a polarized subject. You might want to do your own research here, or ask a new question for what the main arguments for both sides are, if it has not been asked already. Some people say that pirating material is analogous to physical theft, while others say that intellectual monopoly laws are bad and breaking them creates more good than ill. (I happen to think the laws are far too strong and harm humanity, and should be weakened substantially or entirely removed.) I strongly suggest reading on the matter until you have found strong statements of both points of view to come to an informed decision.

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      edited Feb 28 at 14:05

      answered Feb 26 at 13:53

      Tommi BranderTommi Brander

      4,99721634

      4,99721634

      • 38

        Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 16:14

      • 2

        @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

        – tomasz
        Feb 26 at 22:37

      • 1

        @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 23:47

      • 4

        @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

        – Tasos Papastylianou
        Feb 27 at 17:03

      • 2

        The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

        – dwizum
        Feb 27 at 17:32

      • 38

        Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 16:14

      • 2

        @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

        – tomasz
        Feb 26 at 22:37

      • 1

        @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

        – anonymous
        Feb 26 at 23:47

      • 4

        @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

        – Tasos Papastylianou
        Feb 27 at 17:03

      • 2

        The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

        – dwizum
        Feb 27 at 17:32

      38

      38

      Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

      – anonymous
      Feb 26 at 16:14

      Another point is that some journals allow authors to self-archive and embargo periods are variable, so depending on the age of the article and the author, the pirate site might just be hosting a copy that is available elsewhere.

      – anonymous
      Feb 26 at 16:14

      2

      2

      @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

      – tomasz
      Feb 26 at 22:37

      @anonymous: Even in this case, you should still check the published paper — pirated or not — to make sure that you are citing correctly. For example, it is possible to have the numbering of theorems slightly changed in the published version of a math paper. Also sometimes authors might make some changes in the review which they do not bother to (or are not allowed to) propagate to preprint servers.

      – tomasz
      Feb 26 at 22:37

      1

      1

      @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

      – anonymous
      Feb 26 at 23:47

      @tomasz Obviously, the point was about the ethics though…

      – anonymous
      Feb 26 at 23:47

      4

      4

      @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

      – Tasos Papastylianou
      Feb 27 at 17:03

      @dwizum that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying the source is irrelevant to the citation. So in your analogy, if you paid into someone’s bank account via bank transfer or via hacking, from the point of view of the payee there was no ill. The hacking is still an offence but the payee has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the cited paper is cited legitimately (and appropriately), the fact you gained access to it from an illegal source does not undermine your citation, and is not something that should be mentioned in any way. The fact you should not perform illegal acts is a different issue.

      – Tasos Papastylianou
      Feb 27 at 17:03

      2

      2

      The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

      – dwizum
      Feb 27 at 17:32

      The “separate” issue of having obtained the material illegally is the literal question the OP asked. Dismissing it because “no one will know” seems to be dismissing the actual question at hand. If you’re arguing that the citation is okay, then claiming it’s okay specifically because no one will know about the illegality of how you obtained it seems like an weak argument at best, and an incorrect one at worst: If someone asks “Is X okay?” and the answer is, “no one will know, so it’s okay” how is that a legitimate answer? For the record, I think the rest of this answer is great.

      – dwizum
      Feb 27 at 17:32

      28

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need for research just by visiting your university’s library and asking for a copy of the article. This is nearly always available to you. If you are grant funded, then grant funds can probably be used to obtain the necessary papers if the university cannot get them. In the US, even my town library has been able to get me access to things just by asking and because they have developed relationships with other (university) libraries. Small universities can have formal relationships with large research universities to “borrow” books and articles.

      Likewise, borrowing the resources of colleagues is permitted. If s/he has a legal copy s/he can print it. The printed copy can be loaned to you. There are no issues with this at all.

      So, the situation you describe should be rare if you do a bit of legwork.

      But if you cite something, cite a legal repository, not a website known to pirate academic work. You don’t need to actually own a copy of a paper to cite it, but it is probably a mistake (for your reputation) to flaunt illegal or unethical access.

      It probably isn’t as difficult or as costly as you imagine to do the right thing.

      share|improve this answer

      • 19

        Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 13:43

      • 7

        @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 14:07

      • 6

        @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

        – Dave L Renfro
        Feb 27 at 6:56

      • 5

        If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 27 at 7:40

      • 4

        @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

        – cbeleites
        Feb 27 at 17:16

      28

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need for research just by visiting your university’s library and asking for a copy of the article. This is nearly always available to you. If you are grant funded, then grant funds can probably be used to obtain the necessary papers if the university cannot get them. In the US, even my town library has been able to get me access to things just by asking and because they have developed relationships with other (university) libraries. Small universities can have formal relationships with large research universities to “borrow” books and articles.

      Likewise, borrowing the resources of colleagues is permitted. If s/he has a legal copy s/he can print it. The printed copy can be loaned to you. There are no issues with this at all.

      So, the situation you describe should be rare if you do a bit of legwork.

      But if you cite something, cite a legal repository, not a website known to pirate academic work. You don’t need to actually own a copy of a paper to cite it, but it is probably a mistake (for your reputation) to flaunt illegal or unethical access.

      It probably isn’t as difficult or as costly as you imagine to do the right thing.

      share|improve this answer

      • 19

        Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 13:43

      • 7

        @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 14:07

      • 6

        @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

        – Dave L Renfro
        Feb 27 at 6:56

      • 5

        If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 27 at 7:40

      • 4

        @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

        – cbeleites
        Feb 27 at 17:16

      28

      28

      28

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need for research just by visiting your university’s library and asking for a copy of the article. This is nearly always available to you. If you are grant funded, then grant funds can probably be used to obtain the necessary papers if the university cannot get them. In the US, even my town library has been able to get me access to things just by asking and because they have developed relationships with other (university) libraries. Small universities can have formal relationships with large research universities to “borrow” books and articles.

      Likewise, borrowing the resources of colleagues is permitted. If s/he has a legal copy s/he can print it. The printed copy can be loaned to you. There are no issues with this at all.

      So, the situation you describe should be rare if you do a bit of legwork.

      But if you cite something, cite a legal repository, not a website known to pirate academic work. You don’t need to actually own a copy of a paper to cite it, but it is probably a mistake (for your reputation) to flaunt illegal or unethical access.

      It probably isn’t as difficult or as costly as you imagine to do the right thing.

      share|improve this answer

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need for research just by visiting your university’s library and asking for a copy of the article. This is nearly always available to you. If you are grant funded, then grant funds can probably be used to obtain the necessary papers if the university cannot get them. In the US, even my town library has been able to get me access to things just by asking and because they have developed relationships with other (university) libraries. Small universities can have formal relationships with large research universities to “borrow” books and articles.

      Likewise, borrowing the resources of colleagues is permitted. If s/he has a legal copy s/he can print it. The printed copy can be loaned to you. There are no issues with this at all.

      So, the situation you describe should be rare if you do a bit of legwork.

      But if you cite something, cite a legal repository, not a website known to pirate academic work. You don’t need to actually own a copy of a paper to cite it, but it is probably a mistake (for your reputation) to flaunt illegal or unethical access.

      It probably isn’t as difficult or as costly as you imagine to do the right thing.

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      answered Feb 26 at 13:22

      BuffyBuffy

      54.3k16175268

      54.3k16175268

      • 19

        Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 13:43

      • 7

        @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 14:07

      • 6

        @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

        – Dave L Renfro
        Feb 27 at 6:56

      • 5

        If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 27 at 7:40

      • 4

        @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

        – cbeleites
        Feb 27 at 17:16

      • 19

        Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 13:43

      • 7

        @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

        – guifa
        Feb 26 at 14:07

      • 6

        @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

        – Dave L Renfro
        Feb 27 at 6:56

      • 5

        If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

        – Federico Poloni
        Feb 27 at 7:40

      • 4

        @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

        – cbeleites
        Feb 27 at 17:16

      19

      19

      Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

      – guifa
      Feb 26 at 13:43

      Or just don’t cite the repository at all. I mean, if I have a paper copy.of the journal vs a scanned copy I get from another library vs a publisher-provided PDF and all are identical, the repository shouldn’t matter and many (most?) style manuals don’t require you to cite the exact location you obtained the copy except for rare one-of-a-kind works like medieval manuscripts, etc. (Although MLA started so in protest I’ve decided my next paper I’m going to cite every library involved in an ILL transaction to show how stupid it is)

      – guifa
      Feb 26 at 13:43

      7

      7

      @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

      – guifa
      Feb 26 at 14:07

      @Anyon MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR we’re supposed to cite JSTOR along with the article. It’s the same article regardless, and most people just happily pretend they got it on paper to avoid doing it 🙂 I’m jus planning on taking it to the other extreme because to me a library is no different than JSTOR

      – guifa
      Feb 26 at 14:07

      6

      6

      @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

      – Dave L Renfro
      Feb 27 at 6:56

      @guifa: MLA8 wants us to specify the “container” so if we got an article from JSTOR — I don’t know how that would apply to me (and I don’t really care either) because I have literally tens of thousands of photocopied papers and paper preprints obtained since the mid 1980s (arguably the early 1960s if you count the preprint archive I received from a well known researcher in my field in the mid 1990s), from many dozens of libraries, and other than an occasional library stamp on a photocopied page or remembering where I got the paper from, I would have no way of knowing. (continued)

      – Dave L Renfro
      Feb 27 at 6:56

      5

      5

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

      – Federico Poloni
      Feb 27 at 7:40

      If you are at a reputable university you can probably get legal access to nearly everything you need unless that university is in Germany, Sweden, Peru or Taiwan.

      – Federico Poloni
      Feb 27 at 7:40

      4

      4

      @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

      – cbeleites
      Feb 27 at 17:16

      @FedericoPoloni: at least Germany isn’t as cut off as that News article suggests. I’m currently associated with an institution that doesn’t have Elsevier access any more since January. However, there’s an inter-library catalogue that shows which other libraries have a journal (example: zdb-katalog.de/title.xhtml?idn=020659016&vol=2019). In addition, the TIB (≈ national library for technical literature) even has a paper copy. All in all, it’s not as convenient as it was, but our library will still get Elsevier papers I ask for via inter-library loan.

      – cbeleites
      Feb 27 at 17:16

      2

      Would you incriminate yourself?

      For some articles, the abstract is so clear and concise that it effectively says everything you need to know in order to cite it. I’ve previously been advised when writing abstracts for articles in paywall journals to make sure someone could cite the article without actually having it. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, but it is very much possible to cite an article purely based on the abstract, which you would have access to without acquiring the article anyway.

      In short, if I see someone cite an article and I somehow know that they have not paid for access to it, I’d assume they’ve cited it based on the abstract.

      share|improve this answer

      • 26

        I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

        – Jack Aidley
        Feb 26 at 15:00

      • We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

        – E. Rei
        Feb 27 at 16:24

      • @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

        – P. G.
        Feb 27 at 16:58

      • 1

        @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

        – kap
        Feb 28 at 13:58

      • 1

        By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

        – user105041
        Feb 28 at 14:54

      2

      Would you incriminate yourself?

      For some articles, the abstract is so clear and concise that it effectively says everything you need to know in order to cite it. I’ve previously been advised when writing abstracts for articles in paywall journals to make sure someone could cite the article without actually having it. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, but it is very much possible to cite an article purely based on the abstract, which you would have access to without acquiring the article anyway.

      In short, if I see someone cite an article and I somehow know that they have not paid for access to it, I’d assume they’ve cited it based on the abstract.

      share|improve this answer

      • 26

        I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

        – Jack Aidley
        Feb 26 at 15:00

      • We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

        – E. Rei
        Feb 27 at 16:24

      • @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

        – P. G.
        Feb 27 at 16:58

      • 1

        @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

        – kap
        Feb 28 at 13:58

      • 1

        By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

        – user105041
        Feb 28 at 14:54

      2

      2

      2

      Would you incriminate yourself?

      For some articles, the abstract is so clear and concise that it effectively says everything you need to know in order to cite it. I’ve previously been advised when writing abstracts for articles in paywall journals to make sure someone could cite the article without actually having it. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, but it is very much possible to cite an article purely based on the abstract, which you would have access to without acquiring the article anyway.

      In short, if I see someone cite an article and I somehow know that they have not paid for access to it, I’d assume they’ve cited it based on the abstract.

      share|improve this answer

      Would you incriminate yourself?

      For some articles, the abstract is so clear and concise that it effectively says everything you need to know in order to cite it. I’ve previously been advised when writing abstracts for articles in paywall journals to make sure someone could cite the article without actually having it. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, but it is very much possible to cite an article purely based on the abstract, which you would have access to without acquiring the article anyway.

      In short, if I see someone cite an article and I somehow know that they have not paid for access to it, I’d assume they’ve cited it based on the abstract.

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      share|improve this answer

      answered Feb 26 at 9:59

      E. ReiE. Rei

      886314

      886314

      • 26

        I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

        – Jack Aidley
        Feb 26 at 15:00

      • We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

        – E. Rei
        Feb 27 at 16:24

      • @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

        – P. G.
        Feb 27 at 16:58

      • 1

        @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

        – kap
        Feb 28 at 13:58

      • 1

        By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

        – user105041
        Feb 28 at 14:54

      • 26

        I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

        – Jack Aidley
        Feb 26 at 15:00

      • We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

        – E. Rei
        Feb 27 at 16:24

      • @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

        – P. G.
        Feb 27 at 16:58

      • 1

        @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

        – kap
        Feb 28 at 13:58

      • 1

        By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

        – user105041
        Feb 28 at 14:54

      26

      26

      I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

      – Jack Aidley
      Feb 26 at 15:00

      I would consider citing based only an abstract to be extremely bad practice; bordering on a mild form of academic malpractice. Yes, I know it happens, but that does not mean we should so casually accept it.

      – Jack Aidley
      Feb 26 at 15:00

      We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

      – E. Rei
      Feb 27 at 16:24

      We’re on a thread talking about illegal web sharing, everything here is bad practice. The point I was trying to make was that no one could distinguish this form of bad practice (illegal web sharing) from another form of perfectly legal bad practice (citing from an abstract).

      – E. Rei
      Feb 27 at 16:24

      @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

      – P. G.
      Feb 27 at 16:58

      @JackAidley That’s right. But if you consider that there are people who will cite sources just because someone else has cited them, it is not that bad.

      – P. G.
      Feb 27 at 16:58

      1

      1

      @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

      – kap
      Feb 28 at 13:58

      @E.Rei there is a difference: using illegal web sharing might be bad practice from copyright/legal point of view. Citing based on abstracts is academic malpractice.

      – kap
      Feb 28 at 13:58

      1

      1

      By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

      – user105041
      Feb 28 at 14:54

      By that logic, why should anyone citing a paper read more than only the abstract?

      – user105041
      Feb 28 at 14:54

      2

      First, you have to cite if something is relevant for your work! It has nothing to do with how you aquired the article, and even if you do not have the article, just know the abstract or one particular result that is relevent, cite it! (big insight after I worked in academia, seldomly the articles cited are also read in entirety).

      By the way, in academia authors get NO money from their articles, it is all done for reputation in the scientific community; so by not citing you actually do more harm to the individual who wrote the article then by the act of downloading (where maybe just the publisher loses money). And by the way for scientific articles the system works a little bit different, it is seldom the case that an individual buys individual articles (and if they like to they are tredemnously expensive). They are either acquired by your library through subscription, by interlibrary loan (many libraries are connected by networks), given to you by the authors themselve (once I just got a copy from an article that is hard to get in person from the authors send by post after asking him at a conference), or nowadays by the way you asked for… I will not judge what is unethical here but after reading this (or being in academia for yourself some time) you might view it a little bit different…

      So, if nothing works you usually end up not getting the article at all!

      Sidenote, this is a little bit different for books as the authors get some money from them, not much in academia too. But for non-academic books where the authors have to life from the money it is definitely unethical, but this is an entirely different system. Do not judge and confuse it by that (which people might do here if they compare it to robbery, netflix etc…).

      Also if you do not cite something relevant some reviewer of your article will probable notice and either point you to the literature, or if it is a well-known article might conclude that you have done a bad review of the literature yourself.

      share|improve this answer

        2

        First, you have to cite if something is relevant for your work! It has nothing to do with how you aquired the article, and even if you do not have the article, just know the abstract or one particular result that is relevent, cite it! (big insight after I worked in academia, seldomly the articles cited are also read in entirety).

        By the way, in academia authors get NO money from their articles, it is all done for reputation in the scientific community; so by not citing you actually do more harm to the individual who wrote the article then by the act of downloading (where maybe just the publisher loses money). And by the way for scientific articles the system works a little bit different, it is seldom the case that an individual buys individual articles (and if they like to they are tredemnously expensive). They are either acquired by your library through subscription, by interlibrary loan (many libraries are connected by networks), given to you by the authors themselve (once I just got a copy from an article that is hard to get in person from the authors send by post after asking him at a conference), or nowadays by the way you asked for… I will not judge what is unethical here but after reading this (or being in academia for yourself some time) you might view it a little bit different…

        So, if nothing works you usually end up not getting the article at all!

        Sidenote, this is a little bit different for books as the authors get some money from them, not much in academia too. But for non-academic books where the authors have to life from the money it is definitely unethical, but this is an entirely different system. Do not judge and confuse it by that (which people might do here if they compare it to robbery, netflix etc…).

        Also if you do not cite something relevant some reviewer of your article will probable notice and either point you to the literature, or if it is a well-known article might conclude that you have done a bad review of the literature yourself.

        share|improve this answer

          2

          2

          2

          First, you have to cite if something is relevant for your work! It has nothing to do with how you aquired the article, and even if you do not have the article, just know the abstract or one particular result that is relevent, cite it! (big insight after I worked in academia, seldomly the articles cited are also read in entirety).

          By the way, in academia authors get NO money from their articles, it is all done for reputation in the scientific community; so by not citing you actually do more harm to the individual who wrote the article then by the act of downloading (where maybe just the publisher loses money). And by the way for scientific articles the system works a little bit different, it is seldom the case that an individual buys individual articles (and if they like to they are tredemnously expensive). They are either acquired by your library through subscription, by interlibrary loan (many libraries are connected by networks), given to you by the authors themselve (once I just got a copy from an article that is hard to get in person from the authors send by post after asking him at a conference), or nowadays by the way you asked for… I will not judge what is unethical here but after reading this (or being in academia for yourself some time) you might view it a little bit different…

          So, if nothing works you usually end up not getting the article at all!

          Sidenote, this is a little bit different for books as the authors get some money from them, not much in academia too. But for non-academic books where the authors have to life from the money it is definitely unethical, but this is an entirely different system. Do not judge and confuse it by that (which people might do here if they compare it to robbery, netflix etc…).

          Also if you do not cite something relevant some reviewer of your article will probable notice and either point you to the literature, or if it is a well-known article might conclude that you have done a bad review of the literature yourself.

          share|improve this answer

          First, you have to cite if something is relevant for your work! It has nothing to do with how you aquired the article, and even if you do not have the article, just know the abstract or one particular result that is relevent, cite it! (big insight after I worked in academia, seldomly the articles cited are also read in entirety).

          By the way, in academia authors get NO money from their articles, it is all done for reputation in the scientific community; so by not citing you actually do more harm to the individual who wrote the article then by the act of downloading (where maybe just the publisher loses money). And by the way for scientific articles the system works a little bit different, it is seldom the case that an individual buys individual articles (and if they like to they are tredemnously expensive). They are either acquired by your library through subscription, by interlibrary loan (many libraries are connected by networks), given to you by the authors themselve (once I just got a copy from an article that is hard to get in person from the authors send by post after asking him at a conference), or nowadays by the way you asked for… I will not judge what is unethical here but after reading this (or being in academia for yourself some time) you might view it a little bit different…

          So, if nothing works you usually end up not getting the article at all!

          Sidenote, this is a little bit different for books as the authors get some money from them, not much in academia too. But for non-academic books where the authors have to life from the money it is definitely unethical, but this is an entirely different system. Do not judge and confuse it by that (which people might do here if they compare it to robbery, netflix etc…).

          Also if you do not cite something relevant some reviewer of your article will probable notice and either point you to the literature, or if it is a well-known article might conclude that you have done a bad review of the literature yourself.

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          answered Feb 28 at 13:21

          StefanHStefanH

          1666

          1666

              1

              Robert Columbia’s framing of the question:

              It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”).

              For discussion purposes, I’m going to go contrary to the accepted answer and say yes.

              First, if you’re using ideas that are not your own, you definitely have to cite the source. Failure to do that is plagiarism. With respect to avoiding plagiarism, it doesn’t matter where you got the ideas; credit is due.

              However, inaccurately citing where you got the source makes it harder for others to trace that back to the source.

              In some cases, the content posted to a pirate website looks like or maybe is labeled as a copy of the content from the original source, but in fact has different content.

              I have wasted many hours trying to figure out why an author cites X for assertion Y, when in some cases they were actually citing a hidden X’ which differed from X on, among other things, assertion Y. I would have much appreciated if the author had included a citation like:

              J. Ixsom, P. Smiflich, and D. Seuss: “Methods for safely pipetting oxyflogated dexlahydrates at STP.” 23rd Annual Conference on Unusual Chemistry (CUC ’17) London. Retrieved Jan. 18, 2019 from https://authorsite.org/pdf/1234.56789.

              Then I have all the usual citation information about who published that and where, and in most cases I can go to that source and get it from them. In this case, the publisher gets an extra sale from the author having cited that work, regardless of how the author obtained it. However, if I can’t find support for what’s being asserted, I can then trace through to what the author actually looked at. If there’s a difference, I can more quickly debug. I might see how the author was led astray and be able to resolve the issue another way. Without that link to what the author is actually citing, though, it’s very hard to determine the basis for that assertion, and requiring that extra work is a negative impact caused by a difference between the source the author claimed and the source the author actually used.

              Also, note that content differences are not all malicious, and the “authoritative” record is not always better from a content perspective. Sometimes, authors posting a file on their own website, with the publisher’s permission, will update those files (e.g. correcting a mistake in a formula) and then the formula being used in the citing article looks different than the one it’s being cited for. (To authors: If you do this, please explicitly call it out as a correction.)

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots intentionally inserted by publishers designed to get the message out that only official sites can be relied upon for accurate information.

              share|improve this answer

              • Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

                – JeffE
                Mar 8 at 11:15

              • Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

                – WBT
                Mar 8 at 21:23

              • That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

                – JeffE
                Mar 9 at 18:44

              • @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

                – WBT
                Mar 11 at 13:07

              1

              Robert Columbia’s framing of the question:

              It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”).

              For discussion purposes, I’m going to go contrary to the accepted answer and say yes.

              First, if you’re using ideas that are not your own, you definitely have to cite the source. Failure to do that is plagiarism. With respect to avoiding plagiarism, it doesn’t matter where you got the ideas; credit is due.

              However, inaccurately citing where you got the source makes it harder for others to trace that back to the source.

              In some cases, the content posted to a pirate website looks like or maybe is labeled as a copy of the content from the original source, but in fact has different content.

              I have wasted many hours trying to figure out why an author cites X for assertion Y, when in some cases they were actually citing a hidden X’ which differed from X on, among other things, assertion Y. I would have much appreciated if the author had included a citation like:

              J. Ixsom, P. Smiflich, and D. Seuss: “Methods for safely pipetting oxyflogated dexlahydrates at STP.” 23rd Annual Conference on Unusual Chemistry (CUC ’17) London. Retrieved Jan. 18, 2019 from https://authorsite.org/pdf/1234.56789.

              Then I have all the usual citation information about who published that and where, and in most cases I can go to that source and get it from them. In this case, the publisher gets an extra sale from the author having cited that work, regardless of how the author obtained it. However, if I can’t find support for what’s being asserted, I can then trace through to what the author actually looked at. If there’s a difference, I can more quickly debug. I might see how the author was led astray and be able to resolve the issue another way. Without that link to what the author is actually citing, though, it’s very hard to determine the basis for that assertion, and requiring that extra work is a negative impact caused by a difference between the source the author claimed and the source the author actually used.

              Also, note that content differences are not all malicious, and the “authoritative” record is not always better from a content perspective. Sometimes, authors posting a file on their own website, with the publisher’s permission, will update those files (e.g. correcting a mistake in a formula) and then the formula being used in the citing article looks different than the one it’s being cited for. (To authors: If you do this, please explicitly call it out as a correction.)

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots intentionally inserted by publishers designed to get the message out that only official sites can be relied upon for accurate information.

              share|improve this answer

              • Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

                – JeffE
                Mar 8 at 11:15

              • Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

                – WBT
                Mar 8 at 21:23

              • That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

                – JeffE
                Mar 9 at 18:44

              • @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

                – WBT
                Mar 11 at 13:07

              1

              1

              1

              Robert Columbia’s framing of the question:

              It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”).

              For discussion purposes, I’m going to go contrary to the accepted answer and say yes.

              First, if you’re using ideas that are not your own, you definitely have to cite the source. Failure to do that is plagiarism. With respect to avoiding plagiarism, it doesn’t matter where you got the ideas; credit is due.

              However, inaccurately citing where you got the source makes it harder for others to trace that back to the source.

              In some cases, the content posted to a pirate website looks like or maybe is labeled as a copy of the content from the original source, but in fact has different content.

              I have wasted many hours trying to figure out why an author cites X for assertion Y, when in some cases they were actually citing a hidden X’ which differed from X on, among other things, assertion Y. I would have much appreciated if the author had included a citation like:

              J. Ixsom, P. Smiflich, and D. Seuss: “Methods for safely pipetting oxyflogated dexlahydrates at STP.” 23rd Annual Conference on Unusual Chemistry (CUC ’17) London. Retrieved Jan. 18, 2019 from https://authorsite.org/pdf/1234.56789.

              Then I have all the usual citation information about who published that and where, and in most cases I can go to that source and get it from them. In this case, the publisher gets an extra sale from the author having cited that work, regardless of how the author obtained it. However, if I can’t find support for what’s being asserted, I can then trace through to what the author actually looked at. If there’s a difference, I can more quickly debug. I might see how the author was led astray and be able to resolve the issue another way. Without that link to what the author is actually citing, though, it’s very hard to determine the basis for that assertion, and requiring that extra work is a negative impact caused by a difference between the source the author claimed and the source the author actually used.

              Also, note that content differences are not all malicious, and the “authoritative” record is not always better from a content perspective. Sometimes, authors posting a file on their own website, with the publisher’s permission, will update those files (e.g. correcting a mistake in a formula) and then the formula being used in the citing article looks different than the one it’s being cited for. (To authors: If you do this, please explicitly call it out as a correction.)

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots intentionally inserted by publishers designed to get the message out that only official sites can be relied upon for accurate information.

              share|improve this answer

              Robert Columbia’s framing of the question:

              It seems that you are not asking about the ethics of downloading articles from questionable sites, but only the ethics afterwards – when the downloading is already a fait accompli, and the real question is whether citing said document counts as an additional unethical act above and beyond what you did when you downloaded it (e.g. “citing a document obtained through an unauthorized route”).

              For discussion purposes, I’m going to go contrary to the accepted answer and say yes.

              First, if you’re using ideas that are not your own, you definitely have to cite the source. Failure to do that is plagiarism. With respect to avoiding plagiarism, it doesn’t matter where you got the ideas; credit is due.

              However, inaccurately citing where you got the source makes it harder for others to trace that back to the source.

              In some cases, the content posted to a pirate website looks like or maybe is labeled as a copy of the content from the original source, but in fact has different content.

              I have wasted many hours trying to figure out why an author cites X for assertion Y, when in some cases they were actually citing a hidden X’ which differed from X on, among other things, assertion Y. I would have much appreciated if the author had included a citation like:

              J. Ixsom, P. Smiflich, and D. Seuss: “Methods for safely pipetting oxyflogated dexlahydrates at STP.” 23rd Annual Conference on Unusual Chemistry (CUC ’17) London. Retrieved Jan. 18, 2019 from https://authorsite.org/pdf/1234.56789.

              Then I have all the usual citation information about who published that and where, and in most cases I can go to that source and get it from them. In this case, the publisher gets an extra sale from the author having cited that work, regardless of how the author obtained it. However, if I can’t find support for what’s being asserted, I can then trace through to what the author actually looked at. If there’s a difference, I can more quickly debug. I might see how the author was led astray and be able to resolve the issue another way. Without that link to what the author is actually citing, though, it’s very hard to determine the basis for that assertion, and requiring that extra work is a negative impact caused by a difference between the source the author claimed and the source the author actually used.

              Also, note that content differences are not all malicious, and the “authoritative” record is not always better from a content perspective. Sometimes, authors posting a file on their own website, with the publisher’s permission, will update those files (e.g. correcting a mistake in a formula) and then the formula being used in the citing article looks different than the one it’s being cited for. (To authors: If you do this, please explicitly call it out as a correction.)

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots intentionally inserted by publishers designed to get the message out that only official sites can be relied upon for accurate information.

              share|improve this answer

              share|improve this answer

              share|improve this answer

              edited Feb 28 at 20:56

              answered Feb 28 at 20:42

              WBTWBT

              3,15231031

              3,15231031

              • Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

                – JeffE
                Mar 8 at 11:15

              • Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

                – WBT
                Mar 8 at 21:23

              • That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

                – JeffE
                Mar 9 at 18:44

              • @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

                – WBT
                Mar 11 at 13:07

              • Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

                – JeffE
                Mar 8 at 11:15

              • Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

                – WBT
                Mar 8 at 21:23

              • That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

                – JeffE
                Mar 9 at 18:44

              • @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

                – WBT
                Mar 11 at 13:07

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

              – JeffE
              Mar 8 at 11:15

              Sometimes, the differences are honeypots — Really? Do you have concrete examples? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that publishers engage in questionable behavior, but this sounds particularly unethical.

              – JeffE
              Mar 8 at 11:15

              Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

              – WBT
              Mar 8 at 21:23

              Not handy from memory, but I’ve definitely seen it. I suspect it’s more common with textbooks than papers, but maybe that impression comes from an environment where many folks have relatively easy institutional access to official paper repos. For example, if a price-sensitive student tries to purchase a textbook edition that the publisher doesn’t want sold in the country where the student is studying, the publisher might permit it but include numbers, examples, etc. so the student does not have the same information as those who bought from the publisher & can’t follow along, to send a message.

              – WBT
              Mar 8 at 21:23

              That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

              – JeffE
              Mar 9 at 18:44

              That’s a bit different. Changing the examples or exercises in a calculus textbook is petty and stupid, but ultimately only an inconvenience—after all, the studnets are slearning skills, not numerical examples, riiiiiiight? Similarly, changing unimportant details in a journal paper is petty, stupid, and ultimately pointless. For tis stategy to work, the modified details have to be part of the core message of the paper, like experimental data, or plots / statistical analysis thereof; any such modification would be grossly unethical. So again: Can you give at least one specific example?

              – JeffE
              Mar 9 at 18:44

              @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

              – WBT
              Mar 11 at 13:07

              @JeffE Maybe eventually, but I’m not currently in a position where I’m as likely to see those things as I was before. If that line of the answer bothers you too much, ignore it and read the rest. I have definitely seen issues in a key formula which have major impacts on the result of the formula, and that formula is the main reason for citing the paper.

              – WBT
              Mar 11 at 13:07

              0

              Just cite the paper properly (e.g. take into account where the article was originally published), obviously don’t cite Alexandra Elbakyan. Seriously, nobody cares and nobody can find out anyway. And the people who care have a very bad case of boy scout/teacher’s pet disease. The editorial houses are rent-seeking rackets that profit from publicly funded research and hard labour of academics. And they still have the nerve to paywall it. Anyone that feels bad about avoiding that needs to do a deep reflection on their moral priorities.

              share|improve this answer

                0

                Just cite the paper properly (e.g. take into account where the article was originally published), obviously don’t cite Alexandra Elbakyan. Seriously, nobody cares and nobody can find out anyway. And the people who care have a very bad case of boy scout/teacher’s pet disease. The editorial houses are rent-seeking rackets that profit from publicly funded research and hard labour of academics. And they still have the nerve to paywall it. Anyone that feels bad about avoiding that needs to do a deep reflection on their moral priorities.

                share|improve this answer

                  0

                  0

                  0

                  Just cite the paper properly (e.g. take into account where the article was originally published), obviously don’t cite Alexandra Elbakyan. Seriously, nobody cares and nobody can find out anyway. And the people who care have a very bad case of boy scout/teacher’s pet disease. The editorial houses are rent-seeking rackets that profit from publicly funded research and hard labour of academics. And they still have the nerve to paywall it. Anyone that feels bad about avoiding that needs to do a deep reflection on their moral priorities.

                  share|improve this answer

                  Just cite the paper properly (e.g. take into account where the article was originally published), obviously don’t cite Alexandra Elbakyan. Seriously, nobody cares and nobody can find out anyway. And the people who care have a very bad case of boy scout/teacher’s pet disease. The editorial houses are rent-seeking rackets that profit from publicly funded research and hard labour of academics. And they still have the nerve to paywall it. Anyone that feels bad about avoiding that needs to do a deep reflection on their moral priorities.

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  answered Mar 1 at 19:02

                  mathdummymathdummy

                  1114

                  1114

                      -5

                      can we cite [(possibly) illegally obtained] documents[?]

                      Yes, but you might be incriminating yourself, if legal access isn’t plausible.

                      can editorial board know…if I’m using those articles?

                      No. At least, not without collaboration.

                      EDIT: I’m flabbergasted that a factual correct answer has four down votes. Especially as an answer that appeared afterwards, with essentially the same message is being up-voted. It makes be question why I bother helping people.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 17

                        You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 10:10

                      • 8

                        And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                        – E. Rei
                        Feb 26 at 10:18

                      • 1

                        @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 12:53

                      • 10

                        @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                        – David Richerby
                        Feb 26 at 15:42

                      • 8

                        @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                        – Mason Wheeler
                        Feb 26 at 19:31

                      -5

                      can we cite [(possibly) illegally obtained] documents[?]

                      Yes, but you might be incriminating yourself, if legal access isn’t plausible.

                      can editorial board know…if I’m using those articles?

                      No. At least, not without collaboration.

                      EDIT: I’m flabbergasted that a factual correct answer has four down votes. Especially as an answer that appeared afterwards, with essentially the same message is being up-voted. It makes be question why I bother helping people.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 17

                        You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 10:10

                      • 8

                        And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                        – E. Rei
                        Feb 26 at 10:18

                      • 1

                        @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 12:53

                      • 10

                        @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                        – David Richerby
                        Feb 26 at 15:42

                      • 8

                        @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                        – Mason Wheeler
                        Feb 26 at 19:31

                      -5

                      -5

                      -5

                      can we cite [(possibly) illegally obtained] documents[?]

                      Yes, but you might be incriminating yourself, if legal access isn’t plausible.

                      can editorial board know…if I’m using those articles?

                      No. At least, not without collaboration.

                      EDIT: I’m flabbergasted that a factual correct answer has four down votes. Especially as an answer that appeared afterwards, with essentially the same message is being up-voted. It makes be question why I bother helping people.

                      share|improve this answer

                      can we cite [(possibly) illegally obtained] documents[?]

                      Yes, but you might be incriminating yourself, if legal access isn’t plausible.

                      can editorial board know…if I’m using those articles?

                      No. At least, not without collaboration.

                      EDIT: I’m flabbergasted that a factual correct answer has four down votes. Especially as an answer that appeared afterwards, with essentially the same message is being up-voted. It makes be question why I bother helping people.

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      edited Feb 27 at 7:32

                      answered Feb 26 at 9:45

                      user2768user2768

                      14.4k23758

                      14.4k23758

                      • 17

                        You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 10:10

                      • 8

                        And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                        – E. Rei
                        Feb 26 at 10:18

                      • 1

                        @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 12:53

                      • 10

                        @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                        – David Richerby
                        Feb 26 at 15:42

                      • 8

                        @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                        – Mason Wheeler
                        Feb 26 at 19:31

                      • 17

                        You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 10:10

                      • 8

                        And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                        – E. Rei
                        Feb 26 at 10:18

                      • 1

                        @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                        – Federico Poloni
                        Feb 26 at 12:53

                      • 10

                        @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                        – David Richerby
                        Feb 26 at 15:42

                      • 8

                        @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                        – Mason Wheeler
                        Feb 26 at 19:31

                      17

                      17

                      You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                      – Federico Poloni
                      Feb 26 at 10:10

                      You don’t have to demonstrate legal access, in general. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.

                      – Federico Poloni
                      Feb 26 at 10:10

                      8

                      8

                      And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                      – E. Rei
                      Feb 26 at 10:18

                      And as anyone that’s ever marked undergraduate coursework will tell you, referencing an article is absolutely not proof that you’ve read it 🙂

                      – E. Rei
                      Feb 26 at 10:18

                      1

                      1

                      @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                      – Federico Poloni
                      Feb 26 at 12:53

                      @user2768 Another valid justification is “I saw a copy in the office of a colleague”. If I have access to a paper, nothing forbids me from showing it to another person privately.

                      – Federico Poloni
                      Feb 26 at 12:53

                      10

                      10

                      @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                      – David Richerby
                      Feb 26 at 15:42

                      @user2768 The point is that you can’t reasonably tell who has legal access to a published paper. Even if somebody is at a university that doesn’t have a subscription to that journal, there are so many other legitimate ways that the person could get access to the article without leaving any kind of paper trail, that nobody is ever going to conclude “You must have accessed that illegally.”

                      – David Richerby
                      Feb 26 at 15:42

                      8

                      8

                      @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                      – Mason Wheeler
                      Feb 26 at 19:31

                      @FedericoPoloni “The burden of proof lies on the accuser, in most sane legal systems.” This is true. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement goes well outside the bounds of sanity pretty much everywhere. If the requirement of the burden of proof being on the accuser were applied consistently, copyright-enforcement things such as DRM and the DMCA takedown system simply could not exist. But unfortunately, they do.

                      – Mason Wheeler
                      Feb 26 at 19:31

                      -8

                      Isn’t this the same thing as breaking into a house and stealing everything, then asking if it’s ethical to watch Netflix using the victim’s account?

                      You are asking the wrong question.

                      The unethicalness occurred long before the question of attribution arose. The publishers of the papers placed a value on them.. and you, for whatever reason, chose to obtain the document from a thief rather than the publisher. Just because “everyone else” is doing it and it’s “wink wink” accepted practice in no way makes the act of theft ethical. Everything that follows from that act is then tainted by the original act of thievery.

                      So to recap…

                      • Pirate steals from publisher.
                      • You obtain copy of document from pirate, making you at best an accomplice and at worst a thief yourself.
                      • Question of ethics regarding attribution of stolen documents in your own paper is really not a valid question at this point.
                      share|improve this answer

                      • 19

                        And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        Also, this does not really answer the question.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                        – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                        Feb 27 at 8:55

                      • 2

                        @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                        – user2768
                        Feb 28 at 8:12

                      • 1

                        Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                        – Sam Axe
                        Feb 28 at 10:40

                      -8

                      Isn’t this the same thing as breaking into a house and stealing everything, then asking if it’s ethical to watch Netflix using the victim’s account?

                      You are asking the wrong question.

                      The unethicalness occurred long before the question of attribution arose. The publishers of the papers placed a value on them.. and you, for whatever reason, chose to obtain the document from a thief rather than the publisher. Just because “everyone else” is doing it and it’s “wink wink” accepted practice in no way makes the act of theft ethical. Everything that follows from that act is then tainted by the original act of thievery.

                      So to recap…

                      • Pirate steals from publisher.
                      • You obtain copy of document from pirate, making you at best an accomplice and at worst a thief yourself.
                      • Question of ethics regarding attribution of stolen documents in your own paper is really not a valid question at this point.
                      share|improve this answer

                      • 19

                        And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        Also, this does not really answer the question.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                        – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                        Feb 27 at 8:55

                      • 2

                        @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                        – user2768
                        Feb 28 at 8:12

                      • 1

                        Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                        – Sam Axe
                        Feb 28 at 10:40

                      -8

                      -8

                      -8

                      Isn’t this the same thing as breaking into a house and stealing everything, then asking if it’s ethical to watch Netflix using the victim’s account?

                      You are asking the wrong question.

                      The unethicalness occurred long before the question of attribution arose. The publishers of the papers placed a value on them.. and you, for whatever reason, chose to obtain the document from a thief rather than the publisher. Just because “everyone else” is doing it and it’s “wink wink” accepted practice in no way makes the act of theft ethical. Everything that follows from that act is then tainted by the original act of thievery.

                      So to recap…

                      • Pirate steals from publisher.
                      • You obtain copy of document from pirate, making you at best an accomplice and at worst a thief yourself.
                      • Question of ethics regarding attribution of stolen documents in your own paper is really not a valid question at this point.
                      share|improve this answer

                      Isn’t this the same thing as breaking into a house and stealing everything, then asking if it’s ethical to watch Netflix using the victim’s account?

                      You are asking the wrong question.

                      The unethicalness occurred long before the question of attribution arose. The publishers of the papers placed a value on them.. and you, for whatever reason, chose to obtain the document from a thief rather than the publisher. Just because “everyone else” is doing it and it’s “wink wink” accepted practice in no way makes the act of theft ethical. Everything that follows from that act is then tainted by the original act of thievery.

                      So to recap…

                      • Pirate steals from publisher.
                      • You obtain copy of document from pirate, making you at best an accomplice and at worst a thief yourself.
                      • Question of ethics regarding attribution of stolen documents in your own paper is really not a valid question at this point.
                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      edited Mar 8 at 1:37

                      answered Feb 27 at 2:23

                      Sam AxeSam Axe

                      1092

                      1092

                      • 19

                        And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        Also, this does not really answer the question.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                        – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                        Feb 27 at 8:55

                      • 2

                        @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                        – user2768
                        Feb 28 at 8:12

                      • 1

                        Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                        – Sam Axe
                        Feb 28 at 10:40

                      • 19

                        And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        Also, this does not really answer the question.

                        – Tommi Brander
                        Feb 27 at 8:49

                      • 3

                        This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                        – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                        Feb 27 at 8:55

                      • 2

                        @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                        – user2768
                        Feb 28 at 8:12

                      • 1

                        Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                        – Sam Axe
                        Feb 28 at 10:40

                      19

                      19

                      And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                      – Tommi Brander
                      Feb 27 at 8:49

                      And to offer the contrasting take: Pirates steal nothing, as no thing is lost by the publisher. They are breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws to create net benefit for the society. Intellectual monopoly laws are a way of restricting property rights of people for no good benefit, and in a largely unenforceable way, which is used as an arbitrary punishment mechanism for little benefit to anyone but lawyers and certain big rent-seeking companies.

                      – Tommi Brander
                      Feb 27 at 8:49

                      3

                      3

                      Also, this does not really answer the question.

                      – Tommi Brander
                      Feb 27 at 8:49

                      Also, this does not really answer the question.

                      – Tommi Brander
                      Feb 27 at 8:49

                      3

                      3

                      This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                      – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                      Feb 27 at 8:55

                      This reads more like a criticism of the question than an answer. The OP already stated that they deem the act of publishing the documents unethical. Could you clarify in which way “is really not a valid question” provides a useful answer or at least a credible frame challenge?

                      – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                      Feb 27 at 8:55

                      2

                      2

                      @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                      – user2768
                      Feb 28 at 8:12

                      @TommiBrander If we adopt your attitude (breaking ineffective and socially harmful laws is okay), then we are lawless. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t break it.

                      – user2768
                      Feb 28 at 8:12

                      1

                      1

                      Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                      – Sam Axe
                      Feb 28 at 10:40

                      Humm. What laws? The laws saying if you take something that isn’t yours, then that’s theft. How exactly are those laws socially harmful? I never once mentioned IP – only the ethics of being a thief.

                      – Sam Axe
                      Feb 28 at 10:40

                      protected by Alexandros Feb 28 at 19:19

                      Thank you for your interest in this question.
                      Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

                      Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

                      Potential client has a problematic employee I can’t work with

                      The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                      90

                      Background:

                      I’m newly hired in a consulting company (IT), and recently I’ve met with a client where my employer would like me to go to work. I had an interview and met the team.

                      The problem is that I know one member of the team as I had worked with him for four years.

                      Let’s call him Bill. Bill is an IT technician, not a good one, may I add. I’m an administrator / engineer. During that time together, Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come up with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for six months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                      My work relationship with Bill went from bad to worse during this time.

                      But the worst part is that Bill has a history of sexual harassment. He has been fired for sending dirty texts to non-consenting female coworkers. He found their numbers by searching in HR files (which he had access to).

                      After he was fired, several female coworkers on the office said that he texted them at some point.

                      That was one year ago, and Bill didn’t show any remorse at the time.

                      To conclude, there is no way I want to, or will work with Bill again.

                      Question(s):

                      1. I’m newly hired, so I can’t refuse a client without explanation. Should I be honest with my employer or should I find another reason?

                      2. I’m quite sure the client doesn’t know about Bill’s past. Should I let them know?

                      The sexual harassment actions are not hearsay. I’ve seen the texts from Bill. Bill went to a labour court (conseil de prud’hommes) for his dismissal being classified as unjustified, and court ruled him out. I don’t have any evidence in my possession, but those exist.

                      Me not being a target is not the question here.

                      share|improve this question

                      • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                        – Mister Positive
                        Feb 28 at 11:46

                      90

                      Background:

                      I’m newly hired in a consulting company (IT), and recently I’ve met with a client where my employer would like me to go to work. I had an interview and met the team.

                      The problem is that I know one member of the team as I had worked with him for four years.

                      Let’s call him Bill. Bill is an IT technician, not a good one, may I add. I’m an administrator / engineer. During that time together, Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come up with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for six months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                      My work relationship with Bill went from bad to worse during this time.

                      But the worst part is that Bill has a history of sexual harassment. He has been fired for sending dirty texts to non-consenting female coworkers. He found their numbers by searching in HR files (which he had access to).

                      After he was fired, several female coworkers on the office said that he texted them at some point.

                      That was one year ago, and Bill didn’t show any remorse at the time.

                      To conclude, there is no way I want to, or will work with Bill again.

                      Question(s):

                      1. I’m newly hired, so I can’t refuse a client without explanation. Should I be honest with my employer or should I find another reason?

                      2. I’m quite sure the client doesn’t know about Bill’s past. Should I let them know?

                      The sexual harassment actions are not hearsay. I’ve seen the texts from Bill. Bill went to a labour court (conseil de prud’hommes) for his dismissal being classified as unjustified, and court ruled him out. I don’t have any evidence in my possession, but those exist.

                      Me not being a target is not the question here.

                      share|improve this question

                      • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                        – Mister Positive
                        Feb 28 at 11:46

                      90

                      90

                      90

                      4

                      Background:

                      I’m newly hired in a consulting company (IT), and recently I’ve met with a client where my employer would like me to go to work. I had an interview and met the team.

                      The problem is that I know one member of the team as I had worked with him for four years.

                      Let’s call him Bill. Bill is an IT technician, not a good one, may I add. I’m an administrator / engineer. During that time together, Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come up with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for six months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                      My work relationship with Bill went from bad to worse during this time.

                      But the worst part is that Bill has a history of sexual harassment. He has been fired for sending dirty texts to non-consenting female coworkers. He found their numbers by searching in HR files (which he had access to).

                      After he was fired, several female coworkers on the office said that he texted them at some point.

                      That was one year ago, and Bill didn’t show any remorse at the time.

                      To conclude, there is no way I want to, or will work with Bill again.

                      Question(s):

                      1. I’m newly hired, so I can’t refuse a client without explanation. Should I be honest with my employer or should I find another reason?

                      2. I’m quite sure the client doesn’t know about Bill’s past. Should I let them know?

                      The sexual harassment actions are not hearsay. I’ve seen the texts from Bill. Bill went to a labour court (conseil de prud’hommes) for his dismissal being classified as unjustified, and court ruled him out. I don’t have any evidence in my possession, but those exist.

                      Me not being a target is not the question here.

                      share|improve this question

                      Background:

                      I’m newly hired in a consulting company (IT), and recently I’ve met with a client where my employer would like me to go to work. I had an interview and met the team.

                      The problem is that I know one member of the team as I had worked with him for four years.

                      Let’s call him Bill. Bill is an IT technician, not a good one, may I add. I’m an administrator / engineer. During that time together, Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come up with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for six months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                      My work relationship with Bill went from bad to worse during this time.

                      But the worst part is that Bill has a history of sexual harassment. He has been fired for sending dirty texts to non-consenting female coworkers. He found their numbers by searching in HR files (which he had access to).

                      After he was fired, several female coworkers on the office said that he texted them at some point.

                      That was one year ago, and Bill didn’t show any remorse at the time.

                      To conclude, there is no way I want to, or will work with Bill again.

                      Question(s):

                      1. I’m newly hired, so I can’t refuse a client without explanation. Should I be honest with my employer or should I find another reason?

                      2. I’m quite sure the client doesn’t know about Bill’s past. Should I let them know?

                      The sexual harassment actions are not hearsay. I’ve seen the texts from Bill. Bill went to a labour court (conseil de prud’hommes) for his dismissal being classified as unjustified, and court ruled him out. I don’t have any evidence in my possession, but those exist.

                      Me not being a target is not the question here.

                      ethics unprofessional-behavior france

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      share|improve this question

                      edited Feb 27 at 13:45

                      Peter Mortensen

                      57947

                      57947

                      asked Feb 25 at 9:40

                      RomainRomain

                      539128

                      539128

                      • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                        – Mister Positive
                        Feb 28 at 11:46

                      • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                        – Mister Positive
                        Feb 28 at 11:46

                      Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                      – Mister Positive
                      Feb 28 at 11:46

                      Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

                      – Mister Positive
                      Feb 28 at 11:46

                      8 Answers
                      8

                      active

                      oldest

                      votes

                      71

                      I would suggest that you have a meeting with your manager and HR and explain the situation – giving them your reasons is one thing – that should stay private between them and you.

                      However, what is said to the customer is up to your manager – he may say “oh, for X reason we have had to change engineer”…

                      I don’t think you should tell Bill’s employer your true reason.

                      Definitely talk with your HR or someone who can give you solid advice, step carefully… BUT definitely talk to someone; if Bill has changed his game (possibly for the worse…) you don’t want to be around…

                      Best wishes…

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 7

                        The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                        – Peter M
                        Feb 25 at 13:48

                      • 5

                        @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                        – Solar Mike
                        Feb 25 at 15:06

                      • 7

                        @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                        – David K
                        Feb 25 at 16:15

                      • 12

                        @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                        – user87779
                        Feb 26 at 0:20

                      • 15

                        I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                        – Romain
                        Feb 26 at 14:49

                      98

                      I’ll focus on the work-related issue.

                      Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for 6 months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                      As a consultant you’re in a much better position to deal with this. If you ask Bill to do something, he’s expected to do it unless he has a good reason not to.

                      His company is paying for your time and expertise, if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear, and ask whoever hired your company how they want you to deal with it.

                      In terms of ‘Not wanting to work with him because he’s a creep,’ unless you believe you are personally at risk; I don’t think it’s a good reason, of course if you witness anything out of line you are morally obliged to report it. Unless you have hard evidence of his past misdemeanours, discussing them might open you up to being sued for defamation etc.

                      share|improve this answer

                      • 14

                        ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                        – alephzero
                        Feb 25 at 13:43

                      • 77

                        @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                        – Blrfl
                        Feb 25 at 14:17

                      • 18

                        @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                        – Jon Bentley
                        Feb 25 at 14:29

                      • 4

                        @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                        – JeffUK
                        Feb 25 at 14:40

                      • 21

                        -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                        – Brondahl
                        Feb 25 at 23:59

                      29

                      I am going to add an answer here, though it may be covered by some of the recent answers. But as you state you are a newly hired employee of consulting company, some of these answers that recommend “talking to manager”, are not clear in talking to the client manager, or your consulting company manager.

                      As having 30+ years experience in the IT consulting world, you will find that you run into many of the same people in different companies and roles. Because you have had issues in past with a particular person, does not mean that you will in this engagement. People change. Perhaps they have been reprimanded or otherwise punished, and recognize their past bad behavior. Perhaps they are on probation, and working to overcome their shortcomings and issues. You would be prudent to give this person another chance.

                      However, you do have a duty to your consulting company and the client to bring up and confront any issues that will keep from successfully completing the engagement.

                      At this point, at the start of the engagement, I would have a talk with your consulting company account rep, or site manager, or whoever assisted in placing you at the client company. Let them know about your past history with Bill, and problems with Bill performing his work. Speak carefully but dispassionately of the sexual harassment issues, in that you are not repeating gossip. Only speak of your personal knowledge, or facts about his dismissal that you know. Ask your consulting company account rep/site manager what they want to do with this information, if they believe it should be brought up at the client company. Allow them to use their expertise, history, and relationship knowledge as to what the next steps will be.

                      In this way, you are shielding yourself with your new employer, giving them a heads-up about a potential problem. But you are not jeopardizing the consulting company – client relationship. You are also letting your new employer know that you have their interests in mind, not just your problems and issues.

                      share|improve this answer

                        10

                        If you were personally harassed by Bill in a former job, and you have reasonable evidence of that fact, then you certainly have some grounds to tell your management why you don’t want to work with him again. But your OP doesn’t actually say that was what happened.

                        The fact that you think he will ignore your advice is irrelevant. Consultants are paid to give advice, not to enforce its use. (And considering the number of poor consultants around, it’s just as well that some of them can’t force their clients to follow their advice!)

                        If you can’t handle the fact that clients often think consultants are nothing more than a time-wasting irrelevance imposed on them by their own managers who don’t know any better, you are not going to have a happy working life as a consultant!

                        Managing Bill’s behaviour is what Bill’s manager is paid to do, and that is none of your business unless you are personally affected by it. Of course, if he does do something inappropriate, you know enough about his past not to ignore the first occurrence “in case it was just a one-off and you don’t want to cause any trouble” – go straight to your manager (note, your manager, not his manager!) about it.

                        share|improve this answer

                        • 2

                          When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                          – Acccumulation
                          Feb 26 at 16:10

                        8

                        You can’t pick and chose who you work with, nor are you there to police peoples behaviour or provide “community service” by informing their employer of their past.

                        That last part might be confidential or private information btw.so bite your tongue!

                        If you have valid(!) professional reasons, inform your superior that those are why you can’t work with the person.

                        If you have been harrassed by him, you can tell that your manager as well.

                        However, from what you said, I’m afraid you just need to be professional and suck it up.

                        You still can let your superior know that out of professional and private reasons you don’t want to work with him.

                        If you’re not the only one they can send and if your boss doesn’t think you’re being unprofessional you still might dodge that bullet.

                        Be prepared however that your managers opinion about you might shift negatively.

                        share|improve this answer

                        • 18

                          You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                          – Dave Gremlin
                          Feb 25 at 11:54

                        • 7

                          If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                          – George M
                          Feb 25 at 23:55

                        • @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                          – Mehrdad
                          Feb 26 at 21:52

                        • @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                          – George M
                          Feb 26 at 22:15

                        • 1

                          @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                          – Mehrdad
                          Feb 26 at 22:23

                        4

                        Talk it through with your manager, but treat it as your personal problem.

                        You do not have professional grounds to dismiss this job. As other answers well explain. Understand that you are the problem for business right now, so you’d better have a good reason.

                        IMHO, absolute professionalism is not the best way to go, and many people do understand you need to be able to look in the mirror after all. What is reasonable and where are the limits is a personal thing.

                        The best course of action is to do what’s done with personal problems.

                        If your manager is reasonable, he’ll convince you to take the job, or try to accommodate, and give you options, then it’s your choice. From what you say, there is no guarantee you’ll even have to work with Bill. Maybe they can swap you. Worst case it’s do or die, but you won’t know unless you find out. Trusting manager is your best option.

                        I think that personally talking to manager off-the-record is the best course of action because it let’s you find out options without forcing anything yet – i.e. having least consequences, and you are not defaming anyone in any kind of (semi-)official setting. Then, you can prepare for official communication.

                        If the manager’s not with you then there is not much unless you were personally involved, HR won’t help you because there is no ground to protect your personal feelings before company.

                        share|improve this answer

                          4

                          (The following answer is edited out of comments I agree with, written by Fattie, PascLeRasc, and ESR)

                          This is your boss’s problem. Simply and clearly (without being dramatic) tell your boss about the sexual harassment background, and do that immediately without hesitation.

                          You should absolutely be honest with your boss about this. You have plenty of work-related evidence on the guy, both his insubordination and data theft, in addition to the sexual harassment. Your boss will likely be much happier to know these issues as early as possible and it’ll build a good trust for your career.

                          The answer here is short and simple: “I am not comfortable working at Client X as they employ Bill who has a history of sexual harassment.”

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 1

                            Community Wiki?

                            – Dawood ibn Kareem
                            Feb 27 at 5:33

                          4

                          There are multiple work related issues (depending on the laws in your area):

                          1. Bill is difficult to work with
                          2. Bill sexually harasses women
                          3. Bill accesses private data for reasons unrelated to his work (data breach central!)

                          If you feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I’d bring up the following with them, while alone in an office with a closed door. I would then see what my manager’s reaction is. I’d say something like this “I’ve worked with Bill and there’s three key risks to our success as I see it:

                          1. it’s my opinion he is difficult to work with, for example he won’t implement anything he hasn’t conceived of himself. This is a risk to step X in the project.

                          2. Bill was dismissed from his previous company for sexually harassing women and is documented in court documents XYZ. I’m not comfortable working with him since he likes to share what he’s done.

                          3. Bill has caused data breaches in the past as documented in court documents XYZ. I’m afraid this may pose a risk for us.

                          If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, I’d find out the following below. If you are comfortable talking with your manager, you could ask these open ended questions:

                          1. What’s my responsibility to this company if I know of a data breach (discuss some scenarios, e.g. Bill admits to causing a data breach / you witness Bill causing a data breach)
                          2. What’s my responsibility to the government if I know of a data breach (e.g. mandatory reporting etc.)
                          3. What is your policy on workplace sexual harassment on client sites (e.g. what protections are you entitled to and also what are your reporting responsibilities).
                          4. How do we document risks & issues if a key client-side project team member won’t do the work? What is the escalation pathway.

                          Then you will have enough information to hopefully decide what your next steps are (say no and risk getting fired, look for another job on the side etc.).

                          Personally I would err on the side of caution and not bring it up with Bill’s manager – you don’t know them or the company culture. At the very least I’d check out the vibe and if I did say something (e.g. to warn a female employee) I’d make sure there were no witness around to overhear my warning to ensure plausible deniability if noise of it gets back to Bill.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                            – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                            Feb 26 at 16:26

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                          8 Answers
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                          71

                          I would suggest that you have a meeting with your manager and HR and explain the situation – giving them your reasons is one thing – that should stay private between them and you.

                          However, what is said to the customer is up to your manager – he may say “oh, for X reason we have had to change engineer”…

                          I don’t think you should tell Bill’s employer your true reason.

                          Definitely talk with your HR or someone who can give you solid advice, step carefully… BUT definitely talk to someone; if Bill has changed his game (possibly for the worse…) you don’t want to be around…

                          Best wishes…

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 7

                            The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                            – Peter M
                            Feb 25 at 13:48

                          • 5

                            @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                            – Solar Mike
                            Feb 25 at 15:06

                          • 7

                            @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                            – David K
                            Feb 25 at 16:15

                          • 12

                            @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                            – user87779
                            Feb 26 at 0:20

                          • 15

                            I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                            – Romain
                            Feb 26 at 14:49

                          71

                          I would suggest that you have a meeting with your manager and HR and explain the situation – giving them your reasons is one thing – that should stay private between them and you.

                          However, what is said to the customer is up to your manager – he may say “oh, for X reason we have had to change engineer”…

                          I don’t think you should tell Bill’s employer your true reason.

                          Definitely talk with your HR or someone who can give you solid advice, step carefully… BUT definitely talk to someone; if Bill has changed his game (possibly for the worse…) you don’t want to be around…

                          Best wishes…

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 7

                            The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                            – Peter M
                            Feb 25 at 13:48

                          • 5

                            @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                            – Solar Mike
                            Feb 25 at 15:06

                          • 7

                            @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                            – David K
                            Feb 25 at 16:15

                          • 12

                            @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                            – user87779
                            Feb 26 at 0:20

                          • 15

                            I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                            – Romain
                            Feb 26 at 14:49

                          71

                          71

                          71

                          I would suggest that you have a meeting with your manager and HR and explain the situation – giving them your reasons is one thing – that should stay private between them and you.

                          However, what is said to the customer is up to your manager – he may say “oh, for X reason we have had to change engineer”…

                          I don’t think you should tell Bill’s employer your true reason.

                          Definitely talk with your HR or someone who can give you solid advice, step carefully… BUT definitely talk to someone; if Bill has changed his game (possibly for the worse…) you don’t want to be around…

                          Best wishes…

                          share|improve this answer

                          I would suggest that you have a meeting with your manager and HR and explain the situation – giving them your reasons is one thing – that should stay private between them and you.

                          However, what is said to the customer is up to your manager – he may say “oh, for X reason we have had to change engineer”…

                          I don’t think you should tell Bill’s employer your true reason.

                          Definitely talk with your HR or someone who can give you solid advice, step carefully… BUT definitely talk to someone; if Bill has changed his game (possibly for the worse…) you don’t want to be around…

                          Best wishes…

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          edited Feb 25 at 12:24

                          answered Feb 25 at 9:46

                          Solar MikeSolar Mike

                          2,245914

                          2,245914

                          • 7

                            The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                            – Peter M
                            Feb 25 at 13:48

                          • 5

                            @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                            – Solar Mike
                            Feb 25 at 15:06

                          • 7

                            @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                            – David K
                            Feb 25 at 16:15

                          • 12

                            @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                            – user87779
                            Feb 26 at 0:20

                          • 15

                            I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                            – Romain
                            Feb 26 at 14:49

                          • 7

                            The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                            – Peter M
                            Feb 25 at 13:48

                          • 5

                            @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                            – Solar Mike
                            Feb 25 at 15:06

                          • 7

                            @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                            – David K
                            Feb 25 at 16:15

                          • 12

                            @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                            – user87779
                            Feb 26 at 0:20

                          • 15

                            I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                            – Romain
                            Feb 26 at 14:49

                          7

                          7

                          The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                          – Peter M
                          Feb 25 at 13:48

                          The problem with “telling HR” is that the OP was only tangentially aware of some of Bill’s bad behavior. There is huge difference between “Bill did this to me” and “I heard that Bill did this to other people”, so that if the OP goes to HR he has a very fine line to tread – otherwise things could go south very quickly.

                          – Peter M
                          Feb 25 at 13:48

                          5

                          5

                          @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                          – Solar Mike
                          Feb 25 at 15:06

                          @PeterM given the OP mentions that their relationship “went from bad to worse” I think the OP would be justified, at least, talking to HR… as that is definitely NOT hearsay…

                          – Solar Mike
                          Feb 25 at 15:06

                          7

                          7

                          @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                          – David K
                          Feb 25 at 16:15

                          @PeterM I don’t see any problem relaying hearsay to HR so long as you are clear on what you personally know and what you have heard from others. You are sharing information and assessing the situation, not making a complaint or pursuing a specific course of action.

                          – David K
                          Feb 25 at 16:15

                          12

                          12

                          @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                          – user87779
                          Feb 26 at 0:20

                          @PeterM first of all, this isn’t hearsay, it held up in a court of law. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree that relaying hearsay to HR is “the wrong thing to do.” HR isn’t going to sue him, and there’s really no downside to just bringing it to their attention.

                          – user87779
                          Feb 26 at 0:20

                          15

                          15

                          I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                          – Romain
                          Feb 26 at 14:49

                          I’ve listened to your advice and called my manager. She perfectly understands that I don’t want to work with him again, she has others potential clients for me, so no harm. She might probe the client IT manager, with whom she has a long work relationship, about Bill as she wants her consultants to be safe on the workplace. So far, everything is good. Thank you

                          – Romain
                          Feb 26 at 14:49

                          98

                          I’ll focus on the work-related issue.

                          Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for 6 months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                          As a consultant you’re in a much better position to deal with this. If you ask Bill to do something, he’s expected to do it unless he has a good reason not to.

                          His company is paying for your time and expertise, if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear, and ask whoever hired your company how they want you to deal with it.

                          In terms of ‘Not wanting to work with him because he’s a creep,’ unless you believe you are personally at risk; I don’t think it’s a good reason, of course if you witness anything out of line you are morally obliged to report it. Unless you have hard evidence of his past misdemeanours, discussing them might open you up to being sued for defamation etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 14

                            ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                            – alephzero
                            Feb 25 at 13:43

                          • 77

                            @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                            – Blrfl
                            Feb 25 at 14:17

                          • 18

                            @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                            – Jon Bentley
                            Feb 25 at 14:29

                          • 4

                            @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                            – JeffUK
                            Feb 25 at 14:40

                          • 21

                            -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                            – Brondahl
                            Feb 25 at 23:59

                          98

                          I’ll focus on the work-related issue.

                          Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for 6 months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                          As a consultant you’re in a much better position to deal with this. If you ask Bill to do something, he’s expected to do it unless he has a good reason not to.

                          His company is paying for your time and expertise, if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear, and ask whoever hired your company how they want you to deal with it.

                          In terms of ‘Not wanting to work with him because he’s a creep,’ unless you believe you are personally at risk; I don’t think it’s a good reason, of course if you witness anything out of line you are morally obliged to report it. Unless you have hard evidence of his past misdemeanours, discussing them might open you up to being sued for defamation etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          • 14

                            ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                            – alephzero
                            Feb 25 at 13:43

                          • 77

                            @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                            – Blrfl
                            Feb 25 at 14:17

                          • 18

                            @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                            – Jon Bentley
                            Feb 25 at 14:29

                          • 4

                            @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                            – JeffUK
                            Feb 25 at 14:40

                          • 21

                            -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                            – Brondahl
                            Feb 25 at 23:59

                          98

                          98

                          98

                          I’ll focus on the work-related issue.

                          Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for 6 months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                          As a consultant you’re in a much better position to deal with this. If you ask Bill to do something, he’s expected to do it unless he has a good reason not to.

                          His company is paying for your time and expertise, if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear, and ask whoever hired your company how they want you to deal with it.

                          In terms of ‘Not wanting to work with him because he’s a creep,’ unless you believe you are personally at risk; I don’t think it’s a good reason, of course if you witness anything out of line you are morally obliged to report it. Unless you have hard evidence of his past misdemeanours, discussing them might open you up to being sued for defamation etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          I’ll focus on the work-related issue.

                          Bill never wanted to do something he didn’t come with. Got a solution about that problem that bugs everyone for 6 months, too bad, Bill doesn’t like it, Bill doesn’t do it.

                          As a consultant you’re in a much better position to deal with this. If you ask Bill to do something, he’s expected to do it unless he has a good reason not to.

                          His company is paying for your time and expertise, if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear, and ask whoever hired your company how they want you to deal with it.

                          In terms of ‘Not wanting to work with him because he’s a creep,’ unless you believe you are personally at risk; I don’t think it’s a good reason, of course if you witness anything out of line you are morally obliged to report it. Unless you have hard evidence of his past misdemeanours, discussing them might open you up to being sued for defamation etc.

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          share|improve this answer

                          edited Feb 25 at 14:41

                          answered Feb 25 at 11:14

                          JeffUKJeffUK

                          936139

                          936139

                          • 14

                            ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                            – alephzero
                            Feb 25 at 13:43

                          • 77

                            @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                            – Blrfl
                            Feb 25 at 14:17

                          • 18

                            @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                            – Jon Bentley
                            Feb 25 at 14:29

                          • 4

                            @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                            – JeffUK
                            Feb 25 at 14:40

                          • 21

                            -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                            – Brondahl
                            Feb 25 at 23:59

                          • 14

                            ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                            – alephzero
                            Feb 25 at 13:43

                          • 77

                            @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                            – Blrfl
                            Feb 25 at 14:17

                          • 18

                            @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                            – Jon Bentley
                            Feb 25 at 14:29

                          • 4

                            @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                            – JeffUK
                            Feb 25 at 14:40

                          • 21

                            -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                            – Brondahl
                            Feb 25 at 23:59

                          14

                          14

                          ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                          – alephzero
                          Feb 25 at 13:43

                          ” if Bill wilfully ignores your advice, then you document it, make the implications clear of failing to follow your advice, and ask his boss what they want you to do next.” Why would a consultant even care about that? Consultants are paid to give advice. They are not paid to make people follow their advice (which is just as well, considering the quality of the advice you sometimes get from them!)

                          – alephzero
                          Feb 25 at 13:43

                          77

                          77

                          @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                          – Blrfl
                          Feb 25 at 14:17

                          @alephzero Consultants are paid to produce things that can be advice, software or something else. If something on the customer side is impeding progress, the customer is going to see that as the consultant’s failing if they don’t know it’s being caused by something internal.

                          – Blrfl
                          Feb 25 at 14:17

                          18

                          18

                          @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                          – Jon Bentley
                          Feb 25 at 14:29

                          @alephzero If your overall advice relies on the sum of its parts, and you know that the company won’t achieve one of those parts because of an issue with an employee, then your advice needs to reflect that too. It is part of the advice, not part of making them follow the advice. Otherwise you are advising them on something that has a failure point that you know about, but don’t disclose.

                          – Jon Bentley
                          Feb 25 at 14:29

                          4

                          4

                          @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                          – JeffUK
                          Feb 25 at 14:40

                          @alephzero the key point is “make the implications of failing to follow your advice clear,” (which I just reworded) this may be :”We cannot complete the project if Bill doesn’t do what we’ve asked” or it may be “This is best-practice, you should consider it but it won’t impact on our specific objectives”

                          – JeffUK
                          Feb 25 at 14:40

                          21

                          21

                          -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                          – Brondahl
                          Feb 25 at 23:59

                          -1. “I know he’s a sexual harasser but it’s not a risk to me so it’s not my problem”. Bullshit. That sort of attitude is why sexual harassment and misogyny are such a pervasive problem in society at the moment. Everyone should be actively calling out EVERY harasser that the know about.

                          – Brondahl
                          Feb 25 at 23:59

                          29

                          I am going to add an answer here, though it may be covered by some of the recent answers. But as you state you are a newly hired employee of consulting company, some of these answers that recommend “talking to manager”, are not clear in talking to the client manager, or your consulting company manager.

                          As having 30+ years experience in the IT consulting world, you will find that you run into many of the same people in different companies and roles. Because you have had issues in past with a particular person, does not mean that you will in this engagement. People change. Perhaps they have been reprimanded or otherwise punished, and recognize their past bad behavior. Perhaps they are on probation, and working to overcome their shortcomings and issues. You would be prudent to give this person another chance.

                          However, you do have a duty to your consulting company and the client to bring up and confront any issues that will keep from successfully completing the engagement.

                          At this point, at the start of the engagement, I would have a talk with your consulting company account rep, or site manager, or whoever assisted in placing you at the client company. Let them know about your past history with Bill, and problems with Bill performing his work. Speak carefully but dispassionately of the sexual harassment issues, in that you are not repeating gossip. Only speak of your personal knowledge, or facts about his dismissal that you know. Ask your consulting company account rep/site manager what they want to do with this information, if they believe it should be brought up at the client company. Allow them to use their expertise, history, and relationship knowledge as to what the next steps will be.

                          In this way, you are shielding yourself with your new employer, giving them a heads-up about a potential problem. But you are not jeopardizing the consulting company – client relationship. You are also letting your new employer know that you have their interests in mind, not just your problems and issues.

                          share|improve this answer

                            29

                            I am going to add an answer here, though it may be covered by some of the recent answers. But as you state you are a newly hired employee of consulting company, some of these answers that recommend “talking to manager”, are not clear in talking to the client manager, or your consulting company manager.

                            As having 30+ years experience in the IT consulting world, you will find that you run into many of the same people in different companies and roles. Because you have had issues in past with a particular person, does not mean that you will in this engagement. People change. Perhaps they have been reprimanded or otherwise punished, and recognize their past bad behavior. Perhaps they are on probation, and working to overcome their shortcomings and issues. You would be prudent to give this person another chance.

                            However, you do have a duty to your consulting company and the client to bring up and confront any issues that will keep from successfully completing the engagement.

                            At this point, at the start of the engagement, I would have a talk with your consulting company account rep, or site manager, or whoever assisted in placing you at the client company. Let them know about your past history with Bill, and problems with Bill performing his work. Speak carefully but dispassionately of the sexual harassment issues, in that you are not repeating gossip. Only speak of your personal knowledge, or facts about his dismissal that you know. Ask your consulting company account rep/site manager what they want to do with this information, if they believe it should be brought up at the client company. Allow them to use their expertise, history, and relationship knowledge as to what the next steps will be.

                            In this way, you are shielding yourself with your new employer, giving them a heads-up about a potential problem. But you are not jeopardizing the consulting company – client relationship. You are also letting your new employer know that you have their interests in mind, not just your problems and issues.

                            share|improve this answer

                              29

                              29

                              29

                              I am going to add an answer here, though it may be covered by some of the recent answers. But as you state you are a newly hired employee of consulting company, some of these answers that recommend “talking to manager”, are not clear in talking to the client manager, or your consulting company manager.

                              As having 30+ years experience in the IT consulting world, you will find that you run into many of the same people in different companies and roles. Because you have had issues in past with a particular person, does not mean that you will in this engagement. People change. Perhaps they have been reprimanded or otherwise punished, and recognize their past bad behavior. Perhaps they are on probation, and working to overcome their shortcomings and issues. You would be prudent to give this person another chance.

                              However, you do have a duty to your consulting company and the client to bring up and confront any issues that will keep from successfully completing the engagement.

                              At this point, at the start of the engagement, I would have a talk with your consulting company account rep, or site manager, or whoever assisted in placing you at the client company. Let them know about your past history with Bill, and problems with Bill performing his work. Speak carefully but dispassionately of the sexual harassment issues, in that you are not repeating gossip. Only speak of your personal knowledge, or facts about his dismissal that you know. Ask your consulting company account rep/site manager what they want to do with this information, if they believe it should be brought up at the client company. Allow them to use their expertise, history, and relationship knowledge as to what the next steps will be.

                              In this way, you are shielding yourself with your new employer, giving them a heads-up about a potential problem. But you are not jeopardizing the consulting company – client relationship. You are also letting your new employer know that you have their interests in mind, not just your problems and issues.

                              share|improve this answer

                              I am going to add an answer here, though it may be covered by some of the recent answers. But as you state you are a newly hired employee of consulting company, some of these answers that recommend “talking to manager”, are not clear in talking to the client manager, or your consulting company manager.

                              As having 30+ years experience in the IT consulting world, you will find that you run into many of the same people in different companies and roles. Because you have had issues in past with a particular person, does not mean that you will in this engagement. People change. Perhaps they have been reprimanded or otherwise punished, and recognize their past bad behavior. Perhaps they are on probation, and working to overcome their shortcomings and issues. You would be prudent to give this person another chance.

                              However, you do have a duty to your consulting company and the client to bring up and confront any issues that will keep from successfully completing the engagement.

                              At this point, at the start of the engagement, I would have a talk with your consulting company account rep, or site manager, or whoever assisted in placing you at the client company. Let them know about your past history with Bill, and problems with Bill performing his work. Speak carefully but dispassionately of the sexual harassment issues, in that you are not repeating gossip. Only speak of your personal knowledge, or facts about his dismissal that you know. Ask your consulting company account rep/site manager what they want to do with this information, if they believe it should be brought up at the client company. Allow them to use their expertise, history, and relationship knowledge as to what the next steps will be.

                              In this way, you are shielding yourself with your new employer, giving them a heads-up about a potential problem. But you are not jeopardizing the consulting company – client relationship. You are also letting your new employer know that you have their interests in mind, not just your problems and issues.

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              answered Feb 25 at 16:48

                              mharrmharr

                              39123

                              39123

                                  10

                                  If you were personally harassed by Bill in a former job, and you have reasonable evidence of that fact, then you certainly have some grounds to tell your management why you don’t want to work with him again. But your OP doesn’t actually say that was what happened.

                                  The fact that you think he will ignore your advice is irrelevant. Consultants are paid to give advice, not to enforce its use. (And considering the number of poor consultants around, it’s just as well that some of them can’t force their clients to follow their advice!)

                                  If you can’t handle the fact that clients often think consultants are nothing more than a time-wasting irrelevance imposed on them by their own managers who don’t know any better, you are not going to have a happy working life as a consultant!

                                  Managing Bill’s behaviour is what Bill’s manager is paid to do, and that is none of your business unless you are personally affected by it. Of course, if he does do something inappropriate, you know enough about his past not to ignore the first occurrence “in case it was just a one-off and you don’t want to cause any trouble” – go straight to your manager (note, your manager, not his manager!) about it.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  • 2

                                    When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                    – Acccumulation
                                    Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  10

                                  If you were personally harassed by Bill in a former job, and you have reasonable evidence of that fact, then you certainly have some grounds to tell your management why you don’t want to work with him again. But your OP doesn’t actually say that was what happened.

                                  The fact that you think he will ignore your advice is irrelevant. Consultants are paid to give advice, not to enforce its use. (And considering the number of poor consultants around, it’s just as well that some of them can’t force their clients to follow their advice!)

                                  If you can’t handle the fact that clients often think consultants are nothing more than a time-wasting irrelevance imposed on them by their own managers who don’t know any better, you are not going to have a happy working life as a consultant!

                                  Managing Bill’s behaviour is what Bill’s manager is paid to do, and that is none of your business unless you are personally affected by it. Of course, if he does do something inappropriate, you know enough about his past not to ignore the first occurrence “in case it was just a one-off and you don’t want to cause any trouble” – go straight to your manager (note, your manager, not his manager!) about it.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  • 2

                                    When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                    – Acccumulation
                                    Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  10

                                  10

                                  10

                                  If you were personally harassed by Bill in a former job, and you have reasonable evidence of that fact, then you certainly have some grounds to tell your management why you don’t want to work with him again. But your OP doesn’t actually say that was what happened.

                                  The fact that you think he will ignore your advice is irrelevant. Consultants are paid to give advice, not to enforce its use. (And considering the number of poor consultants around, it’s just as well that some of them can’t force their clients to follow their advice!)

                                  If you can’t handle the fact that clients often think consultants are nothing more than a time-wasting irrelevance imposed on them by their own managers who don’t know any better, you are not going to have a happy working life as a consultant!

                                  Managing Bill’s behaviour is what Bill’s manager is paid to do, and that is none of your business unless you are personally affected by it. Of course, if he does do something inappropriate, you know enough about his past not to ignore the first occurrence “in case it was just a one-off and you don’t want to cause any trouble” – go straight to your manager (note, your manager, not his manager!) about it.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  If you were personally harassed by Bill in a former job, and you have reasonable evidence of that fact, then you certainly have some grounds to tell your management why you don’t want to work with him again. But your OP doesn’t actually say that was what happened.

                                  The fact that you think he will ignore your advice is irrelevant. Consultants are paid to give advice, not to enforce its use. (And considering the number of poor consultants around, it’s just as well that some of them can’t force their clients to follow their advice!)

                                  If you can’t handle the fact that clients often think consultants are nothing more than a time-wasting irrelevance imposed on them by their own managers who don’t know any better, you are not going to have a happy working life as a consultant!

                                  Managing Bill’s behaviour is what Bill’s manager is paid to do, and that is none of your business unless you are personally affected by it. Of course, if he does do something inappropriate, you know enough about his past not to ignore the first occurrence “in case it was just a one-off and you don’t want to cause any trouble” – go straight to your manager (note, your manager, not his manager!) about it.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  edited Feb 25 at 14:00

                                  answered Feb 25 at 13:55

                                  alephzeroalephzero

                                  2,9961817

                                  2,9961817

                                  • 2

                                    When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                    – Acccumulation
                                    Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  • 2

                                    When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                    – Acccumulation
                                    Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  2

                                  2

                                  When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                  – Acccumulation
                                  Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  When a consulting company takes on a client, the client has significant power over the consulting company’s employees, and the consulting company has a duty to ensure that the client’s employees don’t abuse that power. What if Bill says to an employee of the consulting company “If you don’t go out with me, I’ll tell your manager that you screwed up and get you fired”? Is this something that is no one’s business but Bill’s manager?

                                  – Acccumulation
                                  Feb 26 at 16:10

                                  8

                                  You can’t pick and chose who you work with, nor are you there to police peoples behaviour or provide “community service” by informing their employer of their past.

                                  That last part might be confidential or private information btw.so bite your tongue!

                                  If you have valid(!) professional reasons, inform your superior that those are why you can’t work with the person.

                                  If you have been harrassed by him, you can tell that your manager as well.

                                  However, from what you said, I’m afraid you just need to be professional and suck it up.

                                  You still can let your superior know that out of professional and private reasons you don’t want to work with him.

                                  If you’re not the only one they can send and if your boss doesn’t think you’re being unprofessional you still might dodge that bullet.

                                  Be prepared however that your managers opinion about you might shift negatively.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  • 18

                                    You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                    – Dave Gremlin
                                    Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  • 7

                                    If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  • @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  • @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  • 1

                                    @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  8

                                  You can’t pick and chose who you work with, nor are you there to police peoples behaviour or provide “community service” by informing their employer of their past.

                                  That last part might be confidential or private information btw.so bite your tongue!

                                  If you have valid(!) professional reasons, inform your superior that those are why you can’t work with the person.

                                  If you have been harrassed by him, you can tell that your manager as well.

                                  However, from what you said, I’m afraid you just need to be professional and suck it up.

                                  You still can let your superior know that out of professional and private reasons you don’t want to work with him.

                                  If you’re not the only one they can send and if your boss doesn’t think you’re being unprofessional you still might dodge that bullet.

                                  Be prepared however that your managers opinion about you might shift negatively.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  • 18

                                    You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                    – Dave Gremlin
                                    Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  • 7

                                    If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  • @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  • @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  • 1

                                    @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  8

                                  8

                                  8

                                  You can’t pick and chose who you work with, nor are you there to police peoples behaviour or provide “community service” by informing their employer of their past.

                                  That last part might be confidential or private information btw.so bite your tongue!

                                  If you have valid(!) professional reasons, inform your superior that those are why you can’t work with the person.

                                  If you have been harrassed by him, you can tell that your manager as well.

                                  However, from what you said, I’m afraid you just need to be professional and suck it up.

                                  You still can let your superior know that out of professional and private reasons you don’t want to work with him.

                                  If you’re not the only one they can send and if your boss doesn’t think you’re being unprofessional you still might dodge that bullet.

                                  Be prepared however that your managers opinion about you might shift negatively.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  You can’t pick and chose who you work with, nor are you there to police peoples behaviour or provide “community service” by informing their employer of their past.

                                  That last part might be confidential or private information btw.so bite your tongue!

                                  If you have valid(!) professional reasons, inform your superior that those are why you can’t work with the person.

                                  If you have been harrassed by him, you can tell that your manager as well.

                                  However, from what you said, I’m afraid you just need to be professional and suck it up.

                                  You still can let your superior know that out of professional and private reasons you don’t want to work with him.

                                  If you’re not the only one they can send and if your boss doesn’t think you’re being unprofessional you still might dodge that bullet.

                                  Be prepared however that your managers opinion about you might shift negatively.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  share|improve this answer

                                  edited Feb 25 at 10:04

                                  answered Feb 25 at 9:55

                                  DigitalBlade969DigitalBlade969

                                  1

                                  1

                                  • 18

                                    You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                    – Dave Gremlin
                                    Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  • 7

                                    If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  • @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  • @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  • 1

                                    @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  • 18

                                    You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                    – Dave Gremlin
                                    Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  • 7

                                    If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  • @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  • @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                    – George M
                                    Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  • 1

                                    @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                    – Mehrdad
                                    Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  18

                                  18

                                  You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                  – Dave Gremlin
                                  Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  You certainly can pick and choose who you work with, it’s just that the price of making a choice may be very high indeed

                                  – Dave Gremlin
                                  Feb 25 at 11:54

                                  7

                                  7

                                  If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                  – George M
                                  Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  If he’s been fired for cause, and that has been upheld by the prudhommes, that’s as official as it gets. It’s not hearsay, it’s evidence.

                                  – George M
                                  Feb 25 at 23:55

                                  @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                  – Mehrdad
                                  Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  @GeorgeM: Evidence that you cannot provide access to may as well not exist.

                                  – Mehrdad
                                  Feb 26 at 21:52

                                  @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                  – George M
                                  Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  @Mehrdad the decisions of the prudhommes are in the public domain. They’re not recorded online in a national database, but anyone can request a copy of a specific case at the court concerned.

                                  – George M
                                  Feb 26 at 22:15

                                  1

                                  1

                                  @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                  – Mehrdad
                                  Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  @GeorgeM: Oh I see, didn’t realize from the question, okay thanks.

                                  – Mehrdad
                                  Feb 26 at 22:23

                                  4

                                  Talk it through with your manager, but treat it as your personal problem.

                                  You do not have professional grounds to dismiss this job. As other answers well explain. Understand that you are the problem for business right now, so you’d better have a good reason.

                                  IMHO, absolute professionalism is not the best way to go, and many people do understand you need to be able to look in the mirror after all. What is reasonable and where are the limits is a personal thing.

                                  The best course of action is to do what’s done with personal problems.

                                  If your manager is reasonable, he’ll convince you to take the job, or try to accommodate, and give you options, then it’s your choice. From what you say, there is no guarantee you’ll even have to work with Bill. Maybe they can swap you. Worst case it’s do or die, but you won’t know unless you find out. Trusting manager is your best option.

                                  I think that personally talking to manager off-the-record is the best course of action because it let’s you find out options without forcing anything yet – i.e. having least consequences, and you are not defaming anyone in any kind of (semi-)official setting. Then, you can prepare for official communication.

                                  If the manager’s not with you then there is not much unless you were personally involved, HR won’t help you because there is no ground to protect your personal feelings before company.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                    4

                                    Talk it through with your manager, but treat it as your personal problem.

                                    You do not have professional grounds to dismiss this job. As other answers well explain. Understand that you are the problem for business right now, so you’d better have a good reason.

                                    IMHO, absolute professionalism is not the best way to go, and many people do understand you need to be able to look in the mirror after all. What is reasonable and where are the limits is a personal thing.

                                    The best course of action is to do what’s done with personal problems.

                                    If your manager is reasonable, he’ll convince you to take the job, or try to accommodate, and give you options, then it’s your choice. From what you say, there is no guarantee you’ll even have to work with Bill. Maybe they can swap you. Worst case it’s do or die, but you won’t know unless you find out. Trusting manager is your best option.

                                    I think that personally talking to manager off-the-record is the best course of action because it let’s you find out options without forcing anything yet – i.e. having least consequences, and you are not defaming anyone in any kind of (semi-)official setting. Then, you can prepare for official communication.

                                    If the manager’s not with you then there is not much unless you were personally involved, HR won’t help you because there is no ground to protect your personal feelings before company.

                                    share|improve this answer

                                      4

                                      4

                                      4

                                      Talk it through with your manager, but treat it as your personal problem.

                                      You do not have professional grounds to dismiss this job. As other answers well explain. Understand that you are the problem for business right now, so you’d better have a good reason.

                                      IMHO, absolute professionalism is not the best way to go, and many people do understand you need to be able to look in the mirror after all. What is reasonable and where are the limits is a personal thing.

                                      The best course of action is to do what’s done with personal problems.

                                      If your manager is reasonable, he’ll convince you to take the job, or try to accommodate, and give you options, then it’s your choice. From what you say, there is no guarantee you’ll even have to work with Bill. Maybe they can swap you. Worst case it’s do or die, but you won’t know unless you find out. Trusting manager is your best option.

                                      I think that personally talking to manager off-the-record is the best course of action because it let’s you find out options without forcing anything yet – i.e. having least consequences, and you are not defaming anyone in any kind of (semi-)official setting. Then, you can prepare for official communication.

                                      If the manager’s not with you then there is not much unless you were personally involved, HR won’t help you because there is no ground to protect your personal feelings before company.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      Talk it through with your manager, but treat it as your personal problem.

                                      You do not have professional grounds to dismiss this job. As other answers well explain. Understand that you are the problem for business right now, so you’d better have a good reason.

                                      IMHO, absolute professionalism is not the best way to go, and many people do understand you need to be able to look in the mirror after all. What is reasonable and where are the limits is a personal thing.

                                      The best course of action is to do what’s done with personal problems.

                                      If your manager is reasonable, he’ll convince you to take the job, or try to accommodate, and give you options, then it’s your choice. From what you say, there is no guarantee you’ll even have to work with Bill. Maybe they can swap you. Worst case it’s do or die, but you won’t know unless you find out. Trusting manager is your best option.

                                      I think that personally talking to manager off-the-record is the best course of action because it let’s you find out options without forcing anything yet – i.e. having least consequences, and you are not defaming anyone in any kind of (semi-)official setting. Then, you can prepare for official communication.

                                      If the manager’s not with you then there is not much unless you were personally involved, HR won’t help you because there is no ground to protect your personal feelings before company.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      edited Feb 25 at 17:50

                                      V2Blast

                                      27159

                                      27159

                                      answered Feb 25 at 14:42

                                      luk32luk32

                                      70049

                                      70049

                                          4

                                          (The following answer is edited out of comments I agree with, written by Fattie, PascLeRasc, and ESR)

                                          This is your boss’s problem. Simply and clearly (without being dramatic) tell your boss about the sexual harassment background, and do that immediately without hesitation.

                                          You should absolutely be honest with your boss about this. You have plenty of work-related evidence on the guy, both his insubordination and data theft, in addition to the sexual harassment. Your boss will likely be much happier to know these issues as early as possible and it’ll build a good trust for your career.

                                          The answer here is short and simple: “I am not comfortable working at Client X as they employ Bill who has a history of sexual harassment.”

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 1

                                            Community Wiki?

                                            – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                            Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          4

                                          (The following answer is edited out of comments I agree with, written by Fattie, PascLeRasc, and ESR)

                                          This is your boss’s problem. Simply and clearly (without being dramatic) tell your boss about the sexual harassment background, and do that immediately without hesitation.

                                          You should absolutely be honest with your boss about this. You have plenty of work-related evidence on the guy, both his insubordination and data theft, in addition to the sexual harassment. Your boss will likely be much happier to know these issues as early as possible and it’ll build a good trust for your career.

                                          The answer here is short and simple: “I am not comfortable working at Client X as they employ Bill who has a history of sexual harassment.”

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 1

                                            Community Wiki?

                                            – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                            Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          4

                                          4

                                          4

                                          (The following answer is edited out of comments I agree with, written by Fattie, PascLeRasc, and ESR)

                                          This is your boss’s problem. Simply and clearly (without being dramatic) tell your boss about the sexual harassment background, and do that immediately without hesitation.

                                          You should absolutely be honest with your boss about this. You have plenty of work-related evidence on the guy, both his insubordination and data theft, in addition to the sexual harassment. Your boss will likely be much happier to know these issues as early as possible and it’ll build a good trust for your career.

                                          The answer here is short and simple: “I am not comfortable working at Client X as they employ Bill who has a history of sexual harassment.”

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          (The following answer is edited out of comments I agree with, written by Fattie, PascLeRasc, and ESR)

                                          This is your boss’s problem. Simply and clearly (without being dramatic) tell your boss about the sexual harassment background, and do that immediately without hesitation.

                                          You should absolutely be honest with your boss about this. You have plenty of work-related evidence on the guy, both his insubordination and data theft, in addition to the sexual harassment. Your boss will likely be much happier to know these issues as early as possible and it’ll build a good trust for your career.

                                          The answer here is short and simple: “I am not comfortable working at Client X as they employ Bill who has a history of sexual harassment.”

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          answered Feb 25 at 23:44

                                          krubokrubo

                                          1784

                                          1784

                                          • 1

                                            Community Wiki?

                                            – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                            Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          • 1

                                            Community Wiki?

                                            – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                            Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          1

                                          1

                                          Community Wiki?

                                          – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                          Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          Community Wiki?

                                          – Dawood ibn Kareem
                                          Feb 27 at 5:33

                                          4

                                          There are multiple work related issues (depending on the laws in your area):

                                          1. Bill is difficult to work with
                                          2. Bill sexually harasses women
                                          3. Bill accesses private data for reasons unrelated to his work (data breach central!)

                                          If you feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I’d bring up the following with them, while alone in an office with a closed door. I would then see what my manager’s reaction is. I’d say something like this “I’ve worked with Bill and there’s three key risks to our success as I see it:

                                          1. it’s my opinion he is difficult to work with, for example he won’t implement anything he hasn’t conceived of himself. This is a risk to step X in the project.

                                          2. Bill was dismissed from his previous company for sexually harassing women and is documented in court documents XYZ. I’m not comfortable working with him since he likes to share what he’s done.

                                          3. Bill has caused data breaches in the past as documented in court documents XYZ. I’m afraid this may pose a risk for us.

                                          If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, I’d find out the following below. If you are comfortable talking with your manager, you could ask these open ended questions:

                                          1. What’s my responsibility to this company if I know of a data breach (discuss some scenarios, e.g. Bill admits to causing a data breach / you witness Bill causing a data breach)
                                          2. What’s my responsibility to the government if I know of a data breach (e.g. mandatory reporting etc.)
                                          3. What is your policy on workplace sexual harassment on client sites (e.g. what protections are you entitled to and also what are your reporting responsibilities).
                                          4. How do we document risks & issues if a key client-side project team member won’t do the work? What is the escalation pathway.

                                          Then you will have enough information to hopefully decide what your next steps are (say no and risk getting fired, look for another job on the side etc.).

                                          Personally I would err on the side of caution and not bring it up with Bill’s manager – you don’t know them or the company culture. At the very least I’d check out the vibe and if I did say something (e.g. to warn a female employee) I’d make sure there were no witness around to overhear my warning to ensure plausible deniability if noise of it gets back to Bill.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                            – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                            Feb 26 at 16:26

                                          4

                                          There are multiple work related issues (depending on the laws in your area):

                                          1. Bill is difficult to work with
                                          2. Bill sexually harasses women
                                          3. Bill accesses private data for reasons unrelated to his work (data breach central!)

                                          If you feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I’d bring up the following with them, while alone in an office with a closed door. I would then see what my manager’s reaction is. I’d say something like this “I’ve worked with Bill and there’s three key risks to our success as I see it:

                                          1. it’s my opinion he is difficult to work with, for example he won’t implement anything he hasn’t conceived of himself. This is a risk to step X in the project.

                                          2. Bill was dismissed from his previous company for sexually harassing women and is documented in court documents XYZ. I’m not comfortable working with him since he likes to share what he’s done.

                                          3. Bill has caused data breaches in the past as documented in court documents XYZ. I’m afraid this may pose a risk for us.

                                          If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, I’d find out the following below. If you are comfortable talking with your manager, you could ask these open ended questions:

                                          1. What’s my responsibility to this company if I know of a data breach (discuss some scenarios, e.g. Bill admits to causing a data breach / you witness Bill causing a data breach)
                                          2. What’s my responsibility to the government if I know of a data breach (e.g. mandatory reporting etc.)
                                          3. What is your policy on workplace sexual harassment on client sites (e.g. what protections are you entitled to and also what are your reporting responsibilities).
                                          4. How do we document risks & issues if a key client-side project team member won’t do the work? What is the escalation pathway.

                                          Then you will have enough information to hopefully decide what your next steps are (say no and risk getting fired, look for another job on the side etc.).

                                          Personally I would err on the side of caution and not bring it up with Bill’s manager – you don’t know them or the company culture. At the very least I’d check out the vibe and if I did say something (e.g. to warn a female employee) I’d make sure there were no witness around to overhear my warning to ensure plausible deniability if noise of it gets back to Bill.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                            – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                            Feb 26 at 16:26

                                          4

                                          4

                                          4

                                          There are multiple work related issues (depending on the laws in your area):

                                          1. Bill is difficult to work with
                                          2. Bill sexually harasses women
                                          3. Bill accesses private data for reasons unrelated to his work (data breach central!)

                                          If you feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I’d bring up the following with them, while alone in an office with a closed door. I would then see what my manager’s reaction is. I’d say something like this “I’ve worked with Bill and there’s three key risks to our success as I see it:

                                          1. it’s my opinion he is difficult to work with, for example he won’t implement anything he hasn’t conceived of himself. This is a risk to step X in the project.

                                          2. Bill was dismissed from his previous company for sexually harassing women and is documented in court documents XYZ. I’m not comfortable working with him since he likes to share what he’s done.

                                          3. Bill has caused data breaches in the past as documented in court documents XYZ. I’m afraid this may pose a risk for us.

                                          If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, I’d find out the following below. If you are comfortable talking with your manager, you could ask these open ended questions:

                                          1. What’s my responsibility to this company if I know of a data breach (discuss some scenarios, e.g. Bill admits to causing a data breach / you witness Bill causing a data breach)
                                          2. What’s my responsibility to the government if I know of a data breach (e.g. mandatory reporting etc.)
                                          3. What is your policy on workplace sexual harassment on client sites (e.g. what protections are you entitled to and also what are your reporting responsibilities).
                                          4. How do we document risks & issues if a key client-side project team member won’t do the work? What is the escalation pathway.

                                          Then you will have enough information to hopefully decide what your next steps are (say no and risk getting fired, look for another job on the side etc.).

                                          Personally I would err on the side of caution and not bring it up with Bill’s manager – you don’t know them or the company culture. At the very least I’d check out the vibe and if I did say something (e.g. to warn a female employee) I’d make sure there were no witness around to overhear my warning to ensure plausible deniability if noise of it gets back to Bill.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          There are multiple work related issues (depending on the laws in your area):

                                          1. Bill is difficult to work with
                                          2. Bill sexually harasses women
                                          3. Bill accesses private data for reasons unrelated to his work (data breach central!)

                                          If you feel comfortable talking to your manager, then I’d bring up the following with them, while alone in an office with a closed door. I would then see what my manager’s reaction is. I’d say something like this “I’ve worked with Bill and there’s three key risks to our success as I see it:

                                          1. it’s my opinion he is difficult to work with, for example he won’t implement anything he hasn’t conceived of himself. This is a risk to step X in the project.

                                          2. Bill was dismissed from his previous company for sexually harassing women and is documented in court documents XYZ. I’m not comfortable working with him since he likes to share what he’s done.

                                          3. Bill has caused data breaches in the past as documented in court documents XYZ. I’m afraid this may pose a risk for us.

                                          If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, I’d find out the following below. If you are comfortable talking with your manager, you could ask these open ended questions:

                                          1. What’s my responsibility to this company if I know of a data breach (discuss some scenarios, e.g. Bill admits to causing a data breach / you witness Bill causing a data breach)
                                          2. What’s my responsibility to the government if I know of a data breach (e.g. mandatory reporting etc.)
                                          3. What is your policy on workplace sexual harassment on client sites (e.g. what protections are you entitled to and also what are your reporting responsibilities).
                                          4. How do we document risks & issues if a key client-side project team member won’t do the work? What is the escalation pathway.

                                          Then you will have enough information to hopefully decide what your next steps are (say no and risk getting fired, look for another job on the side etc.).

                                          Personally I would err on the side of caution and not bring it up with Bill’s manager – you don’t know them or the company culture. At the very least I’d check out the vibe and if I did say something (e.g. to warn a female employee) I’d make sure there were no witness around to overhear my warning to ensure plausible deniability if noise of it gets back to Bill.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          answered Feb 26 at 12:26

                                          i_love_chocolatei_love_chocolate

                                          412

                                          412

                                          • Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                            – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                            Feb 26 at 16:26

                                          • Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                            – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                            Feb 26 at 16:26

                                          Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                          – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                          Feb 26 at 16:26

                                          Good job mentioning the data breach. Whether or not you end up working with the guy, this is something your own company might need to take extra precautions against.

                                          – Ruther Rendommeleigh
                                          Feb 26 at 16:26

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                                          What to do with threats of blacklisting? [closed]

                                          The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                                          16

                                          To be brief, I am a PhD student in the UK, and I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our results. Frustrating and not good for me, but ok, fine. At the time, no harsh words were exchanged at all, and there was some degree of understanding, although I was not happy with the mistake.

                                          This has escalated beyond belief as soon as I relayed this problem to an administrative person, to explain there was a mutual mistake and I needed more time to submit. I explained the situation briefly to the person responsible for these things, made it clear I held no animosity or any interest in dwelling on it, and just needed some recovery time to move forwards. This was made totally clear to him and he was fine to shift the submission date and funding termination back slightly and he had agreed with me that there should be no blame here.

                                          This has resulted in my advisor going on a furious rant at me in public, saying he refuses to work with me anymore. In private, the advisors have said that my ‘complaints’ have made the group look bad (no complaint was ever made, only a request for further time), and that they have now lodged some files or something on me with people at the university marking me as problematic. I have also been told that my complaints will make it difficult for me to get a job even after graduation, if I get to that point, because my advisor has no intention of giving me a reference, much less a positive one, and that they can make finding a job very difficult.

                                          What on earth can I do? It seems that my career is now in ruins before it even started.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted since it appears to have come almost out of nowhere, based on one conversation with an admin person. But I cannot work elsewhere if they follow through on their threats. How can I salvage my potential career?

                                          Edit: There are just too many details I left out to edit down to size, and I would like to simply close this question or delete it if possible, due to confusion. I would prefer this to editing a popular question with too many specifics.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          closed as unclear what you’re asking by Jon Custer, D.W., Ben, eykanal Feb 26 at 13:44

                                          Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it’s currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

                                          • 5

                                            (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                            – virmaior
                                            Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          • 6

                                            Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                            – Patricia Shanahan
                                            Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          • 6

                                            What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                            – Captain Emacs
                                            Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          • 6

                                            Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                            – penelope
                                            Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          • 5

                                            I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                            – Bakuriu
                                            Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          16

                                          To be brief, I am a PhD student in the UK, and I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our results. Frustrating and not good for me, but ok, fine. At the time, no harsh words were exchanged at all, and there was some degree of understanding, although I was not happy with the mistake.

                                          This has escalated beyond belief as soon as I relayed this problem to an administrative person, to explain there was a mutual mistake and I needed more time to submit. I explained the situation briefly to the person responsible for these things, made it clear I held no animosity or any interest in dwelling on it, and just needed some recovery time to move forwards. This was made totally clear to him and he was fine to shift the submission date and funding termination back slightly and he had agreed with me that there should be no blame here.

                                          This has resulted in my advisor going on a furious rant at me in public, saying he refuses to work with me anymore. In private, the advisors have said that my ‘complaints’ have made the group look bad (no complaint was ever made, only a request for further time), and that they have now lodged some files or something on me with people at the university marking me as problematic. I have also been told that my complaints will make it difficult for me to get a job even after graduation, if I get to that point, because my advisor has no intention of giving me a reference, much less a positive one, and that they can make finding a job very difficult.

                                          What on earth can I do? It seems that my career is now in ruins before it even started.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted since it appears to have come almost out of nowhere, based on one conversation with an admin person. But I cannot work elsewhere if they follow through on their threats. How can I salvage my potential career?

                                          Edit: There are just too many details I left out to edit down to size, and I would like to simply close this question or delete it if possible, due to confusion. I would prefer this to editing a popular question with too many specifics.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          closed as unclear what you’re asking by Jon Custer, D.W., Ben, eykanal Feb 26 at 13:44

                                          Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it’s currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

                                          • 5

                                            (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                            – virmaior
                                            Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          • 6

                                            Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                            – Patricia Shanahan
                                            Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          • 6

                                            What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                            – Captain Emacs
                                            Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          • 6

                                            Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                            – penelope
                                            Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          • 5

                                            I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                            – Bakuriu
                                            Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          16

                                          16

                                          16

                                          2

                                          To be brief, I am a PhD student in the UK, and I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our results. Frustrating and not good for me, but ok, fine. At the time, no harsh words were exchanged at all, and there was some degree of understanding, although I was not happy with the mistake.

                                          This has escalated beyond belief as soon as I relayed this problem to an administrative person, to explain there was a mutual mistake and I needed more time to submit. I explained the situation briefly to the person responsible for these things, made it clear I held no animosity or any interest in dwelling on it, and just needed some recovery time to move forwards. This was made totally clear to him and he was fine to shift the submission date and funding termination back slightly and he had agreed with me that there should be no blame here.

                                          This has resulted in my advisor going on a furious rant at me in public, saying he refuses to work with me anymore. In private, the advisors have said that my ‘complaints’ have made the group look bad (no complaint was ever made, only a request for further time), and that they have now lodged some files or something on me with people at the university marking me as problematic. I have also been told that my complaints will make it difficult for me to get a job even after graduation, if I get to that point, because my advisor has no intention of giving me a reference, much less a positive one, and that they can make finding a job very difficult.

                                          What on earth can I do? It seems that my career is now in ruins before it even started.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted since it appears to have come almost out of nowhere, based on one conversation with an admin person. But I cannot work elsewhere if they follow through on their threats. How can I salvage my potential career?

                                          Edit: There are just too many details I left out to edit down to size, and I would like to simply close this question or delete it if possible, due to confusion. I would prefer this to editing a popular question with too many specifics.

                                          share|improve this question

                                          To be brief, I am a PhD student in the UK, and I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our results. Frustrating and not good for me, but ok, fine. At the time, no harsh words were exchanged at all, and there was some degree of understanding, although I was not happy with the mistake.

                                          This has escalated beyond belief as soon as I relayed this problem to an administrative person, to explain there was a mutual mistake and I needed more time to submit. I explained the situation briefly to the person responsible for these things, made it clear I held no animosity or any interest in dwelling on it, and just needed some recovery time to move forwards. This was made totally clear to him and he was fine to shift the submission date and funding termination back slightly and he had agreed with me that there should be no blame here.

                                          This has resulted in my advisor going on a furious rant at me in public, saying he refuses to work with me anymore. In private, the advisors have said that my ‘complaints’ have made the group look bad (no complaint was ever made, only a request for further time), and that they have now lodged some files or something on me with people at the university marking me as problematic. I have also been told that my complaints will make it difficult for me to get a job even after graduation, if I get to that point, because my advisor has no intention of giving me a reference, much less a positive one, and that they can make finding a job very difficult.

                                          What on earth can I do? It seems that my career is now in ruins before it even started.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted since it appears to have come almost out of nowhere, based on one conversation with an admin person. But I cannot work elsewhere if they follow through on their threats. How can I salvage my potential career?

                                          Edit: There are just too many details I left out to edit down to size, and I would like to simply close this question or delete it if possible, due to confusion. I would prefer this to editing a popular question with too many specifics.

                                          phd ethics united-kingdom

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          share|improve this question

                                          edited Feb 25 at 16:45

                                          asked Feb 25 at 11:27

                                          user97048

                                          closed as unclear what you’re asking by Jon Custer, D.W., Ben, eykanal Feb 26 at 13:44

                                          Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it’s currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

                                          closed as unclear what you’re asking by Jon Custer, D.W., Ben, eykanal Feb 26 at 13:44

                                          Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it’s currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

                                          • 5

                                            (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                            – virmaior
                                            Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          • 6

                                            Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                            – Patricia Shanahan
                                            Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          • 6

                                            What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                            – Captain Emacs
                                            Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          • 6

                                            Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                            – penelope
                                            Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          • 5

                                            I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                            – Bakuriu
                                            Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          • 5

                                            (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                            – virmaior
                                            Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          • 6

                                            Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                            – Patricia Shanahan
                                            Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          • 6

                                            What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                            – Captain Emacs
                                            Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          • 6

                                            Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                            – penelope
                                            Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          • 5

                                            I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                            – Bakuriu
                                            Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          5

                                          5

                                          (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                          – virmaior
                                          Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          (1) please edit this down to the question you want us to ask. (2) Is this in the Anglosphere + Western Europe or somewhere else? That matters greatly as to how things work for this.

                                          – virmaior
                                          Feb 25 at 11:34

                                          6

                                          6

                                          Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                          – Patricia Shanahan
                                          Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          Did you consult with your advisor on whether to ask for extra time, and if so how it should be done?

                                          – Patricia Shanahan
                                          Feb 25 at 12:52

                                          6

                                          6

                                          What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                          – Captain Emacs
                                          Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          What was a fairly minor thing? What did the advisor say has upset him? Also, careful about talking about “shared blame” (see below comments). This is a codeword for “actually it’s you, but I want to be so generous to take part of it.”, similar to the infamous politician’s apology, “if I have offended somebody”, which is not really one. Maybe indeed it is your adviser, but for you to be helped, please let us understand the complete picture. BTW, once realising one’s mistake, heartfelt and unconditional apologies may work wonders, although it might be too late now in the present case.

                                          – Captain Emacs
                                          Feb 25 at 12:54

                                          6

                                          6

                                          Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                          – penelope
                                          Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          Sorry for being blunt, but I am currently in the UK system, and while I absolutely do not condone a furious rant in public, if I was supervising a student who acted like that, I would be very offended. And while I might be able to admit that part of it comes from mistakes in advising and leading the student (and that, as a consequence, I might need to work on those skills as an advisor), I would take such a behaviour of the student as a big breach of trust, possibly big enough that I could not work with, advise or lead such a student any more.

                                          – penelope
                                          Feb 25 at 14:06

                                          5

                                          5

                                          I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                          – Bakuriu
                                          Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          I have a friend who is a professor in a UK university and he always rants (privately to me) how sensitive the environment is about complaints of any kind. Next time think twice before bringing stuff up to anyone. If you want a friendly and quick resolution go the private route. The moment you bring anything to any kind of authority, apparently, it’s a huge issue in the UK independently of how small the initial fact is. And other answers below seem to corroborate all the examples I’ve heard from this friend of mine.

                                          – Bakuriu
                                          Feb 25 at 18:45

                                          3 Answers
                                          3

                                          active

                                          oldest

                                          votes

                                          17

                                          You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.

                                          Allow me to give an example from the other side in which this happened:

                                          While I was at another institute, I was asked to take over a lab for another person. The lab hosted a guest cohort from another country so the university needed someone with content knowledge and dual language fluency on short notice. So I was asked if I could take over the lab for a week.

                                          Suffice to say, I did not know that there were particular rules for this lab. Some were obvious (like not leaving equipment plugged in) but I was a little overwhelmed with taking over a course last minute. Further, my work is primarily computational rather than lab focused so the reflex nature of lab rules was not there for me.

                                          After a few nights, the lab manager came in and saw the lab after I had left it. Equipment was left out and plugged in. All a very big mistake on my part. The way she responded was where things got messy.

                                          In hindsight, a more measured response would have been talking to me or even the lab’s PI to find out what was going; even going to the department head. Instead she went to the Dean. She did not know the situation with the lab and the dean didnt, but as soon as it went to the dean, the situation became “administrative”. Funds were threatened and it ended with me having to write a formal apology to the department head and the lab manager with everyone CCed on the email. Everyone was aware the situation and most parties were mainly pleased that I was willing to write the apology so the “administrative” side of the situation could go away and we could fix things in house. (I ended up just getting an assistant who was a little more lab savvy). The department head came by and gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.

                                          Was I wrong, certainly. But it was likely an issue that could have been dealt with “in house”.

                                          So, what was the end result of going to the administration rather than keeping things in house? At one end, awkward elevator rides when the lab manager and I crossed paths. She found out the situation, and to find out, she didnt even know I was in the lab. I heard she thought it was an undergraduate group. On the other end, it did leave some lasting trust issues and undermined what had been before a very good working relationship between two labs. But I think that things have smoothed out since that happened.

                                          In other words, once you go to the administration, the situation becomes administrative.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                            – Reputable Misnomer
                                            Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          14

                                          You have not quite told us what happened with you, your advisor and your research group. But even your vague description betrays what I believe to be a lack of awareness to certain aspects of professional/interpersonal interaction which is now biting you in the ass.

                                          This was initially a fairly minor thing. I just needed to explain to others that there was some confusion which my advisor admitted to me privately

                                          This was not a minor, thing – it was a major thing. A huge thing probably. Why?

                                          • You repeated something told to you in confidence, to outsiders, and made it (somewhat) generally known.
                                          • You assigned blame to your advisor while (seemingly) hinting he was incapable/unwilling to take on the blame, thus slighting his character as a person and as a manager.

                                          … and this was even before any official complaints were lodged about anything and anyone.

                                          Now, maybe that’s not the only way to look at what happened, but it could very well be the way that your advisor and many others – in and out of your research group – see things. It’s possible that, on the merit of the original matter, what you said was true – but that doesn’t help with how you conducted yourself.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted.

                                          You must realize that the feeling may be mutual. Try to look at things from the other person’s perspective – what do they expect and believe – and be aware that they will judge you from that perspective, not on the basis of the facts, or what you consider to be the facts and circumstances.

                                          What on earth can I do?

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research – swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          Does this mean that he’s not really to blame for anything? Not really. Maybe most of the blame is with him. But – that doesn’t really matter. You have to be generous with taking blame and cutting people slack (whether they deserve it in your opinion or not), as long as others/society/science don’t suffer as a consequence. That’s an important salve to apply to situations of people being offended.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 3

                                            Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                            – user97048
                                            Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          • 6

                                            @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                            – einpoklum
                                            Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          • 3

                                            @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          • 2

                                            It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          • 3

                                            You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                            – Dawn
                                            Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          0

                                          The damage has been made. The question is not who to blame, but how to reduce the damage.

                                          Your best option is to do what @einpoklum suggested:

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research –
                                          swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to
                                          your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          I would also suggest to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
                                          by Dale Carnegie. In summary, you need to ask yourself

                                          • What do you want the other person to do?
                                          • How can you influence them to do what you want?

                                          Looking back:

                                          I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled
                                          our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor
                                          thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense
                                          that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but
                                          unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever
                                          reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our
                                          results.

                                          • You want your advisor to work with you to correct the results.
                                          • What you did: you ignored him when he disagreed.

                                          Does this action likely lead to the desired result? Is it a surprise that your advisor appeared not to have time to work with you?

                                          Regardless of who to blame, whether you did was right or wrong, your action did cause trouble to your advisor, and you turned him into an enemy.

                                          Having an enemy is never a good thing, in particular if you want to work in academia and they work in the same field.

                                          • What you want your advisor to do: help with your research, or at least provide a strong reference for you to find another lab.
                                          • How can you achieve this?

                                          Hint: you can’t force anybody to help you, they only do it when they really want.

                                          Note: it is your advisor’s best interest to have successful students. Failing a student affects his performance and reputation too.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                            – Spectrosaurus
                                            Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          3 Answers
                                          3

                                          active

                                          oldest

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                                          3 Answers
                                          3

                                          active

                                          oldest

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                                          active

                                          oldest

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                                          active

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                                          17

                                          You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.

                                          Allow me to give an example from the other side in which this happened:

                                          While I was at another institute, I was asked to take over a lab for another person. The lab hosted a guest cohort from another country so the university needed someone with content knowledge and dual language fluency on short notice. So I was asked if I could take over the lab for a week.

                                          Suffice to say, I did not know that there were particular rules for this lab. Some were obvious (like not leaving equipment plugged in) but I was a little overwhelmed with taking over a course last minute. Further, my work is primarily computational rather than lab focused so the reflex nature of lab rules was not there for me.

                                          After a few nights, the lab manager came in and saw the lab after I had left it. Equipment was left out and plugged in. All a very big mistake on my part. The way she responded was where things got messy.

                                          In hindsight, a more measured response would have been talking to me or even the lab’s PI to find out what was going; even going to the department head. Instead she went to the Dean. She did not know the situation with the lab and the dean didnt, but as soon as it went to the dean, the situation became “administrative”. Funds were threatened and it ended with me having to write a formal apology to the department head and the lab manager with everyone CCed on the email. Everyone was aware the situation and most parties were mainly pleased that I was willing to write the apology so the “administrative” side of the situation could go away and we could fix things in house. (I ended up just getting an assistant who was a little more lab savvy). The department head came by and gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.

                                          Was I wrong, certainly. But it was likely an issue that could have been dealt with “in house”.

                                          So, what was the end result of going to the administration rather than keeping things in house? At one end, awkward elevator rides when the lab manager and I crossed paths. She found out the situation, and to find out, she didnt even know I was in the lab. I heard she thought it was an undergraduate group. On the other end, it did leave some lasting trust issues and undermined what had been before a very good working relationship between two labs. But I think that things have smoothed out since that happened.

                                          In other words, once you go to the administration, the situation becomes administrative.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                            – Reputable Misnomer
                                            Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          17

                                          You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.

                                          Allow me to give an example from the other side in which this happened:

                                          While I was at another institute, I was asked to take over a lab for another person. The lab hosted a guest cohort from another country so the university needed someone with content knowledge and dual language fluency on short notice. So I was asked if I could take over the lab for a week.

                                          Suffice to say, I did not know that there were particular rules for this lab. Some were obvious (like not leaving equipment plugged in) but I was a little overwhelmed with taking over a course last minute. Further, my work is primarily computational rather than lab focused so the reflex nature of lab rules was not there for me.

                                          After a few nights, the lab manager came in and saw the lab after I had left it. Equipment was left out and plugged in. All a very big mistake on my part. The way she responded was where things got messy.

                                          In hindsight, a more measured response would have been talking to me or even the lab’s PI to find out what was going; even going to the department head. Instead she went to the Dean. She did not know the situation with the lab and the dean didnt, but as soon as it went to the dean, the situation became “administrative”. Funds were threatened and it ended with me having to write a formal apology to the department head and the lab manager with everyone CCed on the email. Everyone was aware the situation and most parties were mainly pleased that I was willing to write the apology so the “administrative” side of the situation could go away and we could fix things in house. (I ended up just getting an assistant who was a little more lab savvy). The department head came by and gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.

                                          Was I wrong, certainly. But it was likely an issue that could have been dealt with “in house”.

                                          So, what was the end result of going to the administration rather than keeping things in house? At one end, awkward elevator rides when the lab manager and I crossed paths. She found out the situation, and to find out, she didnt even know I was in the lab. I heard she thought it was an undergraduate group. On the other end, it did leave some lasting trust issues and undermined what had been before a very good working relationship between two labs. But I think that things have smoothed out since that happened.

                                          In other words, once you go to the administration, the situation becomes administrative.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                            – Reputable Misnomer
                                            Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          17

                                          17

                                          17

                                          You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.

                                          Allow me to give an example from the other side in which this happened:

                                          While I was at another institute, I was asked to take over a lab for another person. The lab hosted a guest cohort from another country so the university needed someone with content knowledge and dual language fluency on short notice. So I was asked if I could take over the lab for a week.

                                          Suffice to say, I did not know that there were particular rules for this lab. Some were obvious (like not leaving equipment plugged in) but I was a little overwhelmed with taking over a course last minute. Further, my work is primarily computational rather than lab focused so the reflex nature of lab rules was not there for me.

                                          After a few nights, the lab manager came in and saw the lab after I had left it. Equipment was left out and plugged in. All a very big mistake on my part. The way she responded was where things got messy.

                                          In hindsight, a more measured response would have been talking to me or even the lab’s PI to find out what was going; even going to the department head. Instead she went to the Dean. She did not know the situation with the lab and the dean didnt, but as soon as it went to the dean, the situation became “administrative”. Funds were threatened and it ended with me having to write a formal apology to the department head and the lab manager with everyone CCed on the email. Everyone was aware the situation and most parties were mainly pleased that I was willing to write the apology so the “administrative” side of the situation could go away and we could fix things in house. (I ended up just getting an assistant who was a little more lab savvy). The department head came by and gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.

                                          Was I wrong, certainly. But it was likely an issue that could have been dealt with “in house”.

                                          So, what was the end result of going to the administration rather than keeping things in house? At one end, awkward elevator rides when the lab manager and I crossed paths. She found out the situation, and to find out, she didnt even know I was in the lab. I heard she thought it was an undergraduate group. On the other end, it did leave some lasting trust issues and undermined what had been before a very good working relationship between two labs. But I think that things have smoothed out since that happened.

                                          In other words, once you go to the administration, the situation becomes administrative.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.

                                          Allow me to give an example from the other side in which this happened:

                                          While I was at another institute, I was asked to take over a lab for another person. The lab hosted a guest cohort from another country so the university needed someone with content knowledge and dual language fluency on short notice. So I was asked if I could take over the lab for a week.

                                          Suffice to say, I did not know that there were particular rules for this lab. Some were obvious (like not leaving equipment plugged in) but I was a little overwhelmed with taking over a course last minute. Further, my work is primarily computational rather than lab focused so the reflex nature of lab rules was not there for me.

                                          After a few nights, the lab manager came in and saw the lab after I had left it. Equipment was left out and plugged in. All a very big mistake on my part. The way she responded was where things got messy.

                                          In hindsight, a more measured response would have been talking to me or even the lab’s PI to find out what was going; even going to the department head. Instead she went to the Dean. She did not know the situation with the lab and the dean didnt, but as soon as it went to the dean, the situation became “administrative”. Funds were threatened and it ended with me having to write a formal apology to the department head and the lab manager with everyone CCed on the email. Everyone was aware the situation and most parties were mainly pleased that I was willing to write the apology so the “administrative” side of the situation could go away and we could fix things in house. (I ended up just getting an assistant who was a little more lab savvy). The department head came by and gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.

                                          Was I wrong, certainly. But it was likely an issue that could have been dealt with “in house”.

                                          So, what was the end result of going to the administration rather than keeping things in house? At one end, awkward elevator rides when the lab manager and I crossed paths. She found out the situation, and to find out, she didnt even know I was in the lab. I heard she thought it was an undergraduate group. On the other end, it did leave some lasting trust issues and undermined what had been before a very good working relationship between two labs. But I think that things have smoothed out since that happened.

                                          In other words, once you go to the administration, the situation becomes administrative.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          answered Feb 25 at 14:55

                                          JWH2006JWH2006

                                          3,0382618

                                          3,0382618

                                          • Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                            – Reputable Misnomer
                                            Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          • Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                            – Reputable Misnomer
                                            Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                          – Reputable Misnomer
                                          Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          Would you mind expanding on ‘You went to the administrative person. That was your error and the core issue.’? I am not asking in a confrontational way – just genuinely a bit lost. I also cannot figure out the ‘scale’ of OP’s situation, but let’s assume that the situation was as OP describes it (‘a fairly minor thing’) and simply needed more time. If the administrator approves, OP did nothing wrong by being granted more time from higher authorities? Would love for some others to chime in!

                                          – Reputable Misnomer
                                          Feb 26 at 15:33

                                          14

                                          You have not quite told us what happened with you, your advisor and your research group. But even your vague description betrays what I believe to be a lack of awareness to certain aspects of professional/interpersonal interaction which is now biting you in the ass.

                                          This was initially a fairly minor thing. I just needed to explain to others that there was some confusion which my advisor admitted to me privately

                                          This was not a minor, thing – it was a major thing. A huge thing probably. Why?

                                          • You repeated something told to you in confidence, to outsiders, and made it (somewhat) generally known.
                                          • You assigned blame to your advisor while (seemingly) hinting he was incapable/unwilling to take on the blame, thus slighting his character as a person and as a manager.

                                          … and this was even before any official complaints were lodged about anything and anyone.

                                          Now, maybe that’s not the only way to look at what happened, but it could very well be the way that your advisor and many others – in and out of your research group – see things. It’s possible that, on the merit of the original matter, what you said was true – but that doesn’t help with how you conducted yourself.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted.

                                          You must realize that the feeling may be mutual. Try to look at things from the other person’s perspective – what do they expect and believe – and be aware that they will judge you from that perspective, not on the basis of the facts, or what you consider to be the facts and circumstances.

                                          What on earth can I do?

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research – swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          Does this mean that he’s not really to blame for anything? Not really. Maybe most of the blame is with him. But – that doesn’t really matter. You have to be generous with taking blame and cutting people slack (whether they deserve it in your opinion or not), as long as others/society/science don’t suffer as a consequence. That’s an important salve to apply to situations of people being offended.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 3

                                            Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                            – user97048
                                            Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          • 6

                                            @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                            – einpoklum
                                            Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          • 3

                                            @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          • 2

                                            It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          • 3

                                            You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                            – Dawn
                                            Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          14

                                          You have not quite told us what happened with you, your advisor and your research group. But even your vague description betrays what I believe to be a lack of awareness to certain aspects of professional/interpersonal interaction which is now biting you in the ass.

                                          This was initially a fairly minor thing. I just needed to explain to others that there was some confusion which my advisor admitted to me privately

                                          This was not a minor, thing – it was a major thing. A huge thing probably. Why?

                                          • You repeated something told to you in confidence, to outsiders, and made it (somewhat) generally known.
                                          • You assigned blame to your advisor while (seemingly) hinting he was incapable/unwilling to take on the blame, thus slighting his character as a person and as a manager.

                                          … and this was even before any official complaints were lodged about anything and anyone.

                                          Now, maybe that’s not the only way to look at what happened, but it could very well be the way that your advisor and many others – in and out of your research group – see things. It’s possible that, on the merit of the original matter, what you said was true – but that doesn’t help with how you conducted yourself.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted.

                                          You must realize that the feeling may be mutual. Try to look at things from the other person’s perspective – what do they expect and believe – and be aware that they will judge you from that perspective, not on the basis of the facts, or what you consider to be the facts and circumstances.

                                          What on earth can I do?

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research – swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          Does this mean that he’s not really to blame for anything? Not really. Maybe most of the blame is with him. But – that doesn’t really matter. You have to be generous with taking blame and cutting people slack (whether they deserve it in your opinion or not), as long as others/society/science don’t suffer as a consequence. That’s an important salve to apply to situations of people being offended.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • 3

                                            Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                            – user97048
                                            Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          • 6

                                            @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                            – einpoklum
                                            Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          • 3

                                            @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          • 2

                                            It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          • 3

                                            You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                            – Dawn
                                            Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          14

                                          14

                                          14

                                          You have not quite told us what happened with you, your advisor and your research group. But even your vague description betrays what I believe to be a lack of awareness to certain aspects of professional/interpersonal interaction which is now biting you in the ass.

                                          This was initially a fairly minor thing. I just needed to explain to others that there was some confusion which my advisor admitted to me privately

                                          This was not a minor, thing – it was a major thing. A huge thing probably. Why?

                                          • You repeated something told to you in confidence, to outsiders, and made it (somewhat) generally known.
                                          • You assigned blame to your advisor while (seemingly) hinting he was incapable/unwilling to take on the blame, thus slighting his character as a person and as a manager.

                                          … and this was even before any official complaints were lodged about anything and anyone.

                                          Now, maybe that’s not the only way to look at what happened, but it could very well be the way that your advisor and many others – in and out of your research group – see things. It’s possible that, on the merit of the original matter, what you said was true – but that doesn’t help with how you conducted yourself.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted.

                                          You must realize that the feeling may be mutual. Try to look at things from the other person’s perspective – what do they expect and believe – and be aware that they will judge you from that perspective, not on the basis of the facts, or what you consider to be the facts and circumstances.

                                          What on earth can I do?

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research – swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          Does this mean that he’s not really to blame for anything? Not really. Maybe most of the blame is with him. But – that doesn’t really matter. You have to be generous with taking blame and cutting people slack (whether they deserve it in your opinion or not), as long as others/society/science don’t suffer as a consequence. That’s an important salve to apply to situations of people being offended.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          You have not quite told us what happened with you, your advisor and your research group. But even your vague description betrays what I believe to be a lack of awareness to certain aspects of professional/interpersonal interaction which is now biting you in the ass.

                                          This was initially a fairly minor thing. I just needed to explain to others that there was some confusion which my advisor admitted to me privately

                                          This was not a minor, thing – it was a major thing. A huge thing probably. Why?

                                          • You repeated something told to you in confidence, to outsiders, and made it (somewhat) generally known.
                                          • You assigned blame to your advisor while (seemingly) hinting he was incapable/unwilling to take on the blame, thus slighting his character as a person and as a manager.

                                          … and this was even before any official complaints were lodged about anything and anyone.

                                          Now, maybe that’s not the only way to look at what happened, but it could very well be the way that your advisor and many others – in and out of your research group – see things. It’s possible that, on the merit of the original matter, what you said was true – but that doesn’t help with how you conducted yourself.

                                          This whole situation has made me disgusted.

                                          You must realize that the feeling may be mutual. Try to look at things from the other person’s perspective – what do they expect and believe – and be aware that they will judge you from that perspective, not on the basis of the facts, or what you consider to be the facts and circumstances.

                                          What on earth can I do?

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research – swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          Does this mean that he’s not really to blame for anything? Not really. Maybe most of the blame is with him. But – that doesn’t really matter. You have to be generous with taking blame and cutting people slack (whether they deserve it in your opinion or not), as long as others/society/science don’t suffer as a consequence. That’s an important salve to apply to situations of people being offended.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          edited Feb 25 at 16:27

                                          answered Feb 25 at 11:53

                                          einpoklumeinpoklum

                                          24.7k139142

                                          24.7k139142

                                          • 3

                                            Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                            – user97048
                                            Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          • 6

                                            @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                            – einpoklum
                                            Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          • 3

                                            @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          • 2

                                            It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          • 3

                                            You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                            – Dawn
                                            Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          • 3

                                            Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                            – user97048
                                            Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          • 6

                                            @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                            – einpoklum
                                            Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          • 3

                                            @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          • 2

                                            It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                            – Monkia
                                            Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          • 3

                                            You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                            – Dawn
                                            Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          3

                                          3

                                          Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                          – user97048
                                          Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          Thank you for your advice, but I should make it clear I did not blame him, in fact I made it very clear I was not complaining about anything, only requesting more time due to a shared mistake. I took every step to say that the relationship was good. There was in fact no complaint lodged by me at all. I was requested to edit things down so I removed some clarifying information, perhaps. But there was no complaint ever lodged, informally or formally.

                                          – user97048
                                          Feb 25 at 12:02

                                          6

                                          6

                                          @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                          – einpoklum
                                          Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          @user41208: This may be clear to you, but reading your question – the opposite was clear to me. I mean, you don’t have to say “I’m blaming him” for another party to construe what you’ve said as an assignment of blaim to him.

                                          – einpoklum
                                          Feb 25 at 12:03

                                          3

                                          3

                                          @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                          – Monkia
                                          Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          @user41208, there is something missing in your story, if I understood, you only asked for extra time due to a shared mistake, I would like to know how you delivered this request to make this situation escalated to that point. The best thing you can do is to go and speak with a good professor who can smoothen the waters with your supervisor, maybe there is misunderstanding or gossiping.

                                          – Monkia
                                          Feb 25 at 13:34

                                          2

                                          2

                                          It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                          – Monkia
                                          Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          It seems from your story, that your relationship with your supervisor was good, but I do think he got offended that you mentioned ” you request further time for this mistake” which is obvious what made him furious, if I were in your shoes, you have to apologize.

                                          – Monkia
                                          Feb 25 at 13:37

                                          3

                                          3

                                          You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                          – Dawn
                                          Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          You were new, you did not realize the trouble you would be causing your P.I. Now you need to profusely apologize and eat crow. This is unfortunate because in some sense you were not made aware of the “way these things work.” In the end, that does not save you from having to give a humble and sincere apology.

                                          – Dawn
                                          Feb 25 at 15:43

                                          0

                                          The damage has been made. The question is not who to blame, but how to reduce the damage.

                                          Your best option is to do what @einpoklum suggested:

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research –
                                          swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to
                                          your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          I would also suggest to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
                                          by Dale Carnegie. In summary, you need to ask yourself

                                          • What do you want the other person to do?
                                          • How can you influence them to do what you want?

                                          Looking back:

                                          I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled
                                          our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor
                                          thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense
                                          that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but
                                          unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever
                                          reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our
                                          results.

                                          • You want your advisor to work with you to correct the results.
                                          • What you did: you ignored him when he disagreed.

                                          Does this action likely lead to the desired result? Is it a surprise that your advisor appeared not to have time to work with you?

                                          Regardless of who to blame, whether you did was right or wrong, your action did cause trouble to your advisor, and you turned him into an enemy.

                                          Having an enemy is never a good thing, in particular if you want to work in academia and they work in the same field.

                                          • What you want your advisor to do: help with your research, or at least provide a strong reference for you to find another lab.
                                          • How can you achieve this?

                                          Hint: you can’t force anybody to help you, they only do it when they really want.

                                          Note: it is your advisor’s best interest to have successful students. Failing a student affects his performance and reputation too.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                            – Spectrosaurus
                                            Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          0

                                          The damage has been made. The question is not who to blame, but how to reduce the damage.

                                          Your best option is to do what @einpoklum suggested:

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research –
                                          swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to
                                          your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          I would also suggest to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
                                          by Dale Carnegie. In summary, you need to ask yourself

                                          • What do you want the other person to do?
                                          • How can you influence them to do what you want?

                                          Looking back:

                                          I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled
                                          our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor
                                          thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense
                                          that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but
                                          unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever
                                          reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our
                                          results.

                                          • You want your advisor to work with you to correct the results.
                                          • What you did: you ignored him when he disagreed.

                                          Does this action likely lead to the desired result? Is it a surprise that your advisor appeared not to have time to work with you?

                                          Regardless of who to blame, whether you did was right or wrong, your action did cause trouble to your advisor, and you turned him into an enemy.

                                          Having an enemy is never a good thing, in particular if you want to work in academia and they work in the same field.

                                          • What you want your advisor to do: help with your research, or at least provide a strong reference for you to find another lab.
                                          • How can you achieve this?

                                          Hint: you can’t force anybody to help you, they only do it when they really want.

                                          Note: it is your advisor’s best interest to have successful students. Failing a student affects his performance and reputation too.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          • This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                            – Spectrosaurus
                                            Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          0

                                          0

                                          0

                                          The damage has been made. The question is not who to blame, but how to reduce the damage.

                                          Your best option is to do what @einpoklum suggested:

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research –
                                          swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to
                                          your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          I would also suggest to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
                                          by Dale Carnegie. In summary, you need to ask yourself

                                          • What do you want the other person to do?
                                          • How can you influence them to do what you want?

                                          Looking back:

                                          I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled
                                          our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor
                                          thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense
                                          that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but
                                          unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever
                                          reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our
                                          results.

                                          • You want your advisor to work with you to correct the results.
                                          • What you did: you ignored him when he disagreed.

                                          Does this action likely lead to the desired result? Is it a surprise that your advisor appeared not to have time to work with you?

                                          Regardless of who to blame, whether you did was right or wrong, your action did cause trouble to your advisor, and you turned him into an enemy.

                                          Having an enemy is never a good thing, in particular if you want to work in academia and they work in the same field.

                                          • What you want your advisor to do: help with your research, or at least provide a strong reference for you to find another lab.
                                          • How can you achieve this?

                                          Hint: you can’t force anybody to help you, they only do it when they really want.

                                          Note: it is your advisor’s best interest to have successful students. Failing a student affects his performance and reputation too.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          The damage has been made. The question is not who to blame, but how to reduce the damage.

                                          Your best option is to do what @einpoklum suggested:

                                          Unless it jeopardizes the integrity of yours and others research –
                                          swallow your pride/disgust, stash your ego somewhat, and apologize to
                                          your advisor for your conduct. Be, or pretend to be, penitent.

                                          I would also suggest to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
                                          by Dale Carnegie. In summary, you need to ask yourself

                                          • What do you want the other person to do?
                                          • How can you influence them to do what you want?

                                          Looking back:

                                          I have recently had some disagreement with the way my advisor handled
                                          our collaboration on research. This was initially a fairly minor
                                          thing. Not in the sense of what has happened, but minor in the sense
                                          that I only wanted to move past it, and to continue productively, but
                                          unfortunately he appeared to be too preoccupied, or for whatever
                                          reason, unable or unwilling to work together on correcting our
                                          results.

                                          • You want your advisor to work with you to correct the results.
                                          • What you did: you ignored him when he disagreed.

                                          Does this action likely lead to the desired result? Is it a surprise that your advisor appeared not to have time to work with you?

                                          Regardless of who to blame, whether you did was right or wrong, your action did cause trouble to your advisor, and you turned him into an enemy.

                                          Having an enemy is never a good thing, in particular if you want to work in academia and they work in the same field.

                                          • What you want your advisor to do: help with your research, or at least provide a strong reference for you to find another lab.
                                          • How can you achieve this?

                                          Hint: you can’t force anybody to help you, they only do it when they really want.

                                          Note: it is your advisor’s best interest to have successful students. Failing a student affects his performance and reputation too.

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          share|improve this answer

                                          answered Feb 26 at 9:28

                                          qspqsp

                                          12.2k83270

                                          12.2k83270

                                          • This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                            – Spectrosaurus
                                            Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          • This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                            – Spectrosaurus
                                            Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                          – Spectrosaurus
                                          Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          This is the best answer because it is the only one that addresses the question – which was not “what went wrong”, but “what can I do going forward?”. Don’t understand why this was downvoted.

                                          – Spectrosaurus
                                          Feb 26 at 10:18

                                          What if you do not believe in the project benefits?

                                          The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

                                          13

                                          I’ve recently been assigned to a project as the PM and I’m fairly sure that a senior executive in the company has heard some fancy marketing spill at a conference and now wants this product at the company.

                                          As far as I can see, it is an expensive and specialised application to coordinate much more complicated infrastructure than what we have and there is no use case for this product at this company.

                                          I’ve tried explaining this but there is a lack of technical knowledge and the managers have expectations of all these proposed benefits, all of which are hypothetical and frankly unrealistic.

                                          What is my responsibility here? Do I just accept that even through I disagree with the project benefits, I’ve been given this task to purchase and integrate this application so that should be my goal?

                                          How do I protect myself when the application inevitably does not do everything that management expect it to do? Morally, should I step down as the PM for this project?

                                          share|improve this question

                                            13

                                            I’ve recently been assigned to a project as the PM and I’m fairly sure that a senior executive in the company has heard some fancy marketing spill at a conference and now wants this product at the company.

                                            As far as I can see, it is an expensive and specialised application to coordinate much more complicated infrastructure than what we have and there is no use case for this product at this company.

                                            I’ve tried explaining this but there is a lack of technical knowledge and the managers have expectations of all these proposed benefits, all of which are hypothetical and frankly unrealistic.

                                            What is my responsibility here? Do I just accept that even through I disagree with the project benefits, I’ve been given this task to purchase and integrate this application so that should be my goal?

                                            How do I protect myself when the application inevitably does not do everything that management expect it to do? Morally, should I step down as the PM for this project?

                                            share|improve this question

                                              13

                                              13

                                              13

                                              1

                                              I’ve recently been assigned to a project as the PM and I’m fairly sure that a senior executive in the company has heard some fancy marketing spill at a conference and now wants this product at the company.

                                              As far as I can see, it is an expensive and specialised application to coordinate much more complicated infrastructure than what we have and there is no use case for this product at this company.

                                              I’ve tried explaining this but there is a lack of technical knowledge and the managers have expectations of all these proposed benefits, all of which are hypothetical and frankly unrealistic.

                                              What is my responsibility here? Do I just accept that even through I disagree with the project benefits, I’ve been given this task to purchase and integrate this application so that should be my goal?

                                              How do I protect myself when the application inevitably does not do everything that management expect it to do? Morally, should I step down as the PM for this project?

                                              share|improve this question

                                              I’ve recently been assigned to a project as the PM and I’m fairly sure that a senior executive in the company has heard some fancy marketing spill at a conference and now wants this product at the company.

                                              As far as I can see, it is an expensive and specialised application to coordinate much more complicated infrastructure than what we have and there is no use case for this product at this company.

                                              I’ve tried explaining this but there is a lack of technical knowledge and the managers have expectations of all these proposed benefits, all of which are hypothetical and frankly unrealistic.

                                              What is my responsibility here? Do I just accept that even through I disagree with the project benefits, I’ve been given this task to purchase and integrate this application so that should be my goal?

                                              How do I protect myself when the application inevitably does not do everything that management expect it to do? Morally, should I step down as the PM for this project?

                                              ethics

                                              share|improve this question

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                                              asked Feb 21 at 11:05

                                              ShoesShoes

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                                                  There’s a conflict between the Product management and the Project management role.

                                                  As Product Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the product is viable and will have acceptance within users.

                                                  As Project Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the project objectives are achieved.

                                                  Based on the context, it seems you have a considerable amount of knowledge on the product. As a professional (role-agnostic) you should ensure the proper people (senior management, probably?) is aware of your perspective. Assume you do not have the whole information. Maybe the project becomes reasonable if some other sound changes are applied.

                                                  By raising this concern, try to obtain as much information as possible. It’s very important for project successful to understand the whole product picture.

                                                  If after raising the concern the information or context provided is not enough to make you believe on it, it’ll be much harder to manage… get ready. This should also be raised as a project risk. If this is also absorbed by the team, it’ll be even harder.

                                                  Once your concerns are clear*, you should go ahead with the project as project manager, focused on the project objectives. Ensure project successful criteria are very clear from the offset. And focus on them.


                                                  * IMMV. The “clear” will depend on your company. It may be a chat. It may be a mail. A formal risk entry on CMMI.

                                                  share|improve this answer

                                                    10

                                                    Agree with @Tiago Cardoso, but I’ll provide a different analytical framework.

                                                    The PM is responsible to the stakeholders for closing the project.

                                                    If the project is authorized based on flawed assumptions (or on assumptions which the PM believes to be flawed), then there is a risk to project success. (I don’t remember the statistics, but from memory, flawed assumptions about benefits/flawed stakeholder expectations is one of the major reasons for project failure).

                                                    If you have reason to doubt that the project can succeed, then I think your obligation is to voice that doubt early, track it as a risk, and create the kind of information that will allow the project to be closed early when it demonstrates that it cannot meet the expectations.

                                                    Were I in your shoes I would:

                                                    1. Make sure the assumptions are explicit. Make sure that stakeholder assumptions, expectations etc. are explicitly recorded in project documentation.

                                                    2. Work with the project sponsor to craft performance indicators that measure the project’s ability to deliver the anticipated results.

                                                    3. Make sure that the communications plan includes a section where the stakeholders express the information they want on the project, and that that section includes the metric identified above.

                                                    4. Every assumption is a risk – make sure your risk register tracks risks associated with the assumption. Do your best to include risk triggers that will escalate the risk to stakeholder attention when the risk trigger indicates that the project is unlikely to deliver expectations.

                                                    5. Work with the other stakeholders to build a coalition to manage expectations for the project ( nemawashi with a grateful tip of the hat to @kubanczyk)

                                                    And lastly, and most importantly, I would prepare to be wrong. I have to admit that the manager may be right, and this might be the right approach. I have to give the best counsel I can collect, but prepare to be joyfully wrong.

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                                                      3

                                                      As others have pointed out, understanding who is responsible for what is helpful and avoids a lot of chaos.

                                                      However, the Golden Rule trumps organizational “walls”. If your conscience forbids you to be quiet while your teammate, regardless of position (including the boss) is attempting to cross Niagara Falls in a barrel then obey your conscience, even if just to say “I want it noted that it is my professional judgment that this project needs to be redesigned before it will have a reasonable expectation of success because…”.

                                                      Depending on what is at stake and the clarity of the flaw in the planning, lying down in front of the barrel may be in order. But if the ship will not sink if the project proceeds and fails or if you aren’t certain that it will then make your concerns known, defer to the leadership and expect your “minority report” to eventually be vindicated.

                                                      Not too long ago I was charged with developing some ETL in SSIS. The specs called for grouping at one level while I was very sure that it should have been grouped at another level. The manager told me that we were committed to this spec and just to do it per spec. Also I told him that the spec said to get the data from one source but I pointed out that it would be incomplete if we didn’t get the data from a different system altogether. Again, we were committed to the spec. Since I struck out with convincing my manager (who, don’t get me wrong, was very smart, diligent… he just didn’t see this particular spec the way I did, as that was my area of expertise).

                                                      To make a long story longer, the program “worked” but gave the wrong results, as predicted. The manager burst into my “office” (a temp situation with a whole bunch of other consultants) and publicly chewed me out (I could tell he was just grouchy because of things bigger than I), asked me if I knew how to program, yada yada… Fortunately I had the example he had given me and my output matched that. He conceded he was wrong and I was able to fix both contested issues fairly easily.

                                                      What I’m driving at is that:

                                                      • I stood up for my concerns
                                                      • I let him have the final decision
                                                      • When he was chewing me out for failure I had “peace like a river” because I knew I had given him all the information he needed to change his course
                                                      • He changed course and all was well

                                                      Had it been a bigger issue I might have gone over his head but in my judgment it was not necessary and instead the whole thing worked out to be a “team building” experience.

                                                      What you DON’T want to do is:

                                                      • not say anything out of timidity
                                                      • overstate your concerns
                                                      • create a self-fulfilling prophecy (by causing the failure)
                                                      • make it personal

                                                      All team members (except you and I, of course) make mistakes and it is everyone’s responsibility to communicate.

                                                      I’m thinking of the USA auto industry that was producing a large percentage of defective cars. The Japanese were not. We learned from them the value of anyone on the line having the power to suspend production immediately if the line was in danger of letting a defect slip through.

                                                      Fortunately, many companies today “get” that assuring their teams that everyone has the right – and responsibility – to report threats to quality product delivery, etc.

                                                      The best case scenario is that you report it and trouble is averted. But the second best is if you report it, they ignore it and they realize that they should have listened to you. The worst case if you don’t report it and disaster ensues.

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                                                        2

                                                        For the past several years, I have read what seems to be a push to extend the PM’s accountability not only with the success of project delivery but also product success and organization success. This comes across to me as more of way to expand the scope of a project manager versus something that makes sense.

                                                        I 100% agree with Tiago and Mark. The PM’s scope of accountability is the delivery of the project objectives. So if you’re the PM, and you have no other role in that company, as the PM, your scope is the delivery of the objectives and that’s it. If the company is choosing to do something silly, or their business case for their project is heavily flawed, as the PM, that’s none of your business or concern. You shouldn’t even opine on it because that exposes you spent cycles analyzing it, and that is not in your scope.

                                                        If you wear another hat in your organization, then perhaps then in those other roles you would have standing to discuss the business case. Have at it, if that’s the case, but do so not as a PM.

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                                                          There’s a conflict between the Product management and the Project management role.

                                                          As Product Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the product is viable and will have acceptance within users.

                                                          As Project Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the project objectives are achieved.

                                                          Based on the context, it seems you have a considerable amount of knowledge on the product. As a professional (role-agnostic) you should ensure the proper people (senior management, probably?) is aware of your perspective. Assume you do not have the whole information. Maybe the project becomes reasonable if some other sound changes are applied.

                                                          By raising this concern, try to obtain as much information as possible. It’s very important for project successful to understand the whole product picture.

                                                          If after raising the concern the information or context provided is not enough to make you believe on it, it’ll be much harder to manage… get ready. This should also be raised as a project risk. If this is also absorbed by the team, it’ll be even harder.

                                                          Once your concerns are clear*, you should go ahead with the project as project manager, focused on the project objectives. Ensure project successful criteria are very clear from the offset. And focus on them.


                                                          * IMMV. The “clear” will depend on your company. It may be a chat. It may be a mail. A formal risk entry on CMMI.

                                                          share|improve this answer

                                                            10

                                                            There’s a conflict between the Product management and the Project management role.

                                                            As Product Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the product is viable and will have acceptance within users.

                                                            As Project Manager, you’re responsible to ensure the project objectives are achieved.

                                                            Based on the context, it seems you have a considerable amount of knowledge on the product. As a professional (role-agnostic) you should ensure the proper people (senior management, probably?) is aware of your perspective. Assume you do not have the whole information. Maybe the project becomes reasonable if some other sound changes are applied.

                                                            By raising this concern, try to obtain as much information