Requests by PhD assistant to Master's Student - Avoiding an unreasonable request

toyo10 07/12/2018. 1 answers, 85 views
phd thesis ethics research-assistantship programming

I am a master's degree student that is going to graduate in the next two weeks.

After having concluded a master's degree thesis with many econometric models in R I also decided to show the results in Latex. It is very good looking and easy to manage considering that was a 100+ pages work with many tables and plots. My thesis's professor was impressed and the dissertation looked very good at the very ending. All in all, it was an extremely hard work for me. Many analysis has been done (far more than requested), but I have learned so much during the journey that just because of this the investment paid back.

Now the problem. The PhD student who was in charge to "supervise me" wants to reproduce my work in "1 weekend". This is my one-year-long work and it is absolutely impossible to do it.

Moreover, since he is pretty statistical illiterate (he use statistical software as running black boxes), he is start asking improbable things, such as to export all input and output in .csv, or to merge data in .xlsx tables so that he can simply put them in Excel or Stata and "check" my work. And if it doesn't work to find a way to make it works.

Then he asked for all the codes, to "check" it. He want to press the button and replicate the analysis. But of course it doesn't work like that. Anyone who have ever used R, Python, etc. knows that is not that simple (just think how to solve directory repository problems...)

He also asked me to copy all the tables and put them in word format, in order to be "reproducible". To copy number by number if it is necessary because he need them.

I don't know the "bon-ton" in this situation. The professor was ok when I told him I was confident in R. This because he trusted me and my capabilities. But nobody told me that after my thesis was complete I would have needed to teach phd students R or how to replicate my analysis and solve their problems in doing it.

What should I do?

1 Answers


Buffy 07/12/2018.

There are three people involved at least, including the professor. I think the request is not reasonable for the reasons you state. Clearly the junior advisor has expectations, but they seem to be un-doable.

You have to judge personalities, but I'd suggest trying to see if you can have a meeting very soon with all three of you present. Try to come to an understanding about what can be reasonably done in the time remaining.

Try to find a backup plan if not all expectations can be met. Don't be shy about saying why such things are unreasonable and that melding your work to the advisors preferred work-flow at such a late date isn't feasible - or even desirable. Your use of R and LaTex seem to be good choices. I don't know why the PhD advisor wants to check your work independently of you and the professor. Maybe you can get an answer to that in a three person meeting.

My personal opinion is that you have been put in an untenable position. Unfortunately, I have no say or authority in the outcome.


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