How do you deal with not getting proper credit?

  • #1
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So, I wanna start off by saying that whatever I am observing comes only from me and all of this may just be my perception and me going insane, but one of the things I've learned is a good rule of thumb is, "if something feels wrong, it's probably because it is."

I work in a lab with multiple people, but this one person, in particular, and we usually make our PowerPoint presentations together for our group meetings since we work on the same experiments. Now, it's a common thing that whenever there's a bug in the experiment, either he or I figure out what's wrong with it, but whenever we're doing the presentations, he usually walks through the slides, which is perfectly fine, right? But then, he takes credit and talks about things he figured out and how he debugged it and mentions the things that I messed up (he messes up too, but never mentions those instances). There have been other instances where he said somethings to me which weren't the nicest in the world, but when I called him out on it, he said that a third person might have done it. Now, I'm not sure how to deal with this situation. Typically, I would just communicate it to the person directly, but in this instance, anecdotal evidence tells me that he's just gonna deny it (although I could be wrong since I haven't addressed this particular issue with him). That's #1.

#2 I think my professor doesn't think so highly of me. Of course whenever I ask him about it, he says how I'm doing fine and that there's no construtive criticism that he feels like he should give me, but then I hear snide comments directed from him at me which tell me otherwise, like I'm not doing good enough and I don't see the same being directed at other people.

Have any of y'all ever been in this situation before? How did you deal with it? Or do I need therapy?
 
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  • #2
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P.S. I would talk to my professor about it and be like," hey! How do I improve?" But I feel like I've done it enough times now and he's told me the same thing that it would be considered harrasment at this point. Another reason why I think I'm not doing as good is because over the summer, he paid the other guy for about as many hours a week as he wanted to work for and me for only 20 hours. I still worked more than 45 hours every week (although that was my choice and he didn't ask that of me).
 
  • #3
.Scott
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The situation may be more evident to the managers than you think.
Bad-mouthing your peers is not a sign of good teamwork.
I would talk to whomever manages the teams and ask to be reassigned to a different team the next time such a reassignment was opportune.
 
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  • #4
DennisN
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But then, he takes credit and talks about things he figured out and how he debugged it and mentions the things that I messed up (he messes up too, but never mentions those instances).
That sounds like the behavior of a person with low internal self esteem, who possibly elevates himself at the expense of others.
There have been other instances where he said somethings to me which weren't the nicest in the world, but when I called him out on it, he said that a third person might have done it.
That sounds like the behavior of an immature/irresponsible person.
Have any of y'all ever been in this situation before?
Yes.
How did you deal with it?
I avoid such persons as much as I can. And I certainly don't want such persons as friends.
 
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  • #5
verty
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Can you do your own experiments and write-ups? Then if the results differ, each of you should look at the other's experiment. And share the presenting as well. "Here are the results of our experiments." If everyone knows you are working separately, he can't claim it. Well that's my idea.
 
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  • #6
symbolipoint
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Phys12

People like that sometimes reach management positions. You could bet that they will not adapt to becoming more favorable to you. Could you get into a different and better group next term or next year, and by that, increase your chances of people giving your your earned credit or at least not stealing it from you?
 
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  • #7
Wrichik Basu
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This certainly looks like a frustrating situation.

First, you have to say a bit more about the work you're doing. Are you in some research? Or are you doing some project work often done in colleges and universities?

There are two ways to deal with this problem, depending on the answer to the above question:
  1. If you're not in research, you have to do your own work yourself. This is the one I prefer. If it is possible to work individually, do that. It's better not to have partners in work rather than have ones who are enemies in disguise. Nowadays, you have the Internet, and people are ready to help you for free (like here in PF). Take such help and work all by yourself. Also, don't forget to let others know (especially your professor) that you are working alone. And as suggested by others, try to change your partner and/or professor next time you get an opportunity.
  2. If you're in research and you have to collaborate, you have to develop an assertive personality (this will apply even if you're not in research). This necessarily does not mean that you have to shout and quarrel. Your personality, way of speaking and your behaviour should be such that people can trust you. This is the one I have taken resort to. In my institution, there are a lot of teachers who teach wrong things, take up unfair means to earn money, and what not. Now, when I had to complain to the authorities, they realised by my personality that I was speaking the truth. It is not that I get good marks (in fact, there have been cases where I have just passed), but my disposition towards others and attitude have always helped me win in such cases. Attitude is very important. You have to show that you understand what you are doing, and prove that you're not weak.

In any case, I believe that #2 will be important for you. Not only for you, a strong attitude is necessary in today's world to save oneself from being affected by corruption. You have to speak to your partner and make it clear that you will not tolerate such nuisance. Moreover, talk to your professor separately and tell him what is happening. It might happen that he won't believe you, but do not leave your ground. If you stick to what is right, at one point of time, others will bend low before you. I am speaking this from experience. Try it.
 
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  • #8
robphy
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  • #9
QuantumQuest
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So, I wanna start off by saying that whatever I am observing comes only from me and all of this may just be my perception and me going insane, but one of the things I've learned is a good rule of thumb is, "if something feels wrong, it's probably because it is."

I work in a lab with multiple people, but this one person, in particular, and we usually make our PowerPoint presentations together for our group meetings since we work on the same experiments. Now, it's a common thing that whenever there's a bug in the experiment, either he or I figure out what's wrong with it, but whenever we're doing the presentations, he usually walks through the slides, which is perfectly fine, right? But then, he takes credit and talks about things he figured out and how he debugged it and mentions the things that I messed up (he messes up too, but never mentions those instances). There have been other instances where he said somethings to me which weren't the nicest in the world, but when I called him out on it, he said that a third person might have done it. Now, I'm not sure how to deal with this situation. Typically, I would just communicate it to the person directly, but in this instance, anecdotal evidence tells me that he's just gonna deny it (although I could be wrong since I haven't addressed this particular issue with him). That's #1.

#2 I think my professor doesn't think so highly of me. Of course whenever I ask him about it, he says how I'm doing fine and that there's no construtive criticism that he feels like he should give me, but then I hear snide comments directed from him at me which tell me otherwise, like I'm not doing good enough and I don't see the same being directed at other people.

Have any of y'all ever been in this situation before? How did you deal with it? Or do I need therapy?
P.S. I would talk to my professor about it and be like," hey! How do I improve?" But I feel like I've done it enough times now and he's told me the same thing that it would be considered harrasment at this point. Another reason why I think I'm not doing as good is because over the summer, he paid the other guy for about as many hours a week as he wanted to work for and me for only 20 hours. I still worked more than 45 hours every week (although that was my choice and he didn't ask that of me).
Unfortunately, things often go as in the situation you describe. If you really do your best then what is important is that you have to do something about it - you owe it to yourself, at least. I' ll definitely agree to what @DennisN said above. In order to deal with the situation efficiently, the first thing I would suggest is to talk to your colleague and show that you won't tolerate such a behavior any more, in a polite manner and if there is no real progress then talk to your professor. There is also the alternate way of asking to participate in another team, as already suggested by @.Scott and @symbolipoint, that could be preferable, depending on how you want to deal with it.

In a somewhat similar case regarding unfair behavior, more than a decade ago, I and my colleague had to make a whole website as part of a certification we were pursuing and there were three-persons teams except for my team that had just two - that was just the result of the fact that the number of people was not evenly divided by persons per team (3) but we accepted it as we both had already very good scores. My colleague was a database professional. I offered to do all the client side work (xhtml, css, flash, javascript) that was a lot of work in and of itself, as I had to do all the scaffolding, graphics (static and animated) from scratch and all client side programming behavior, in about a half-semester period. So, what I naturally asked my colleague was to create the database from scratch including triggers and procedures, as a way to reduce PHP scripting - which he should also do at least in half, in order to show a well designed and more secure work. I also offered to write the documentation. This cost me a lot of hours of extensive work as, beyond working on the pc we were setting up the site during lab hours, I worked at home after work and I was not a professional web designer - I just liked to try to go beyond the requirements of the certification regarding web design. Thing is that in the middle of the process my colleague claimed that he had very little spare time to create some advanced constructs for the database and in order to meet the deadline, I was finally forced to do the most part of PHP scripting and testing. I told him that this was not fair but he asked to take half credit as well, as he just had no time to do more - did I have really?. I had no other way but talk to the professor and finally the work was finished, it was uploaded to the institution server and I got almost the whole credit.

My point is that you have to assert your right to a fair collaboration and credit, in the way you judge it right.
 
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  • #10
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Thank you so much to everyone who replied. It extremely helped to know that I am not alone in this and it has happened before. I first went to talk to my professor with a very calm and composed state of mind, which was contrary to a few hours before (he has always seemed very understanding and mature and that I can talk to him about anything). I started off by asking him if he has been in a situation where he thought he wasn't getting the credit that was due for the work he put, if he had problems asserting himself (he said yes to both) and how he dealt with it. He then asked me to have a seat and then I walked him through what I had been thinking, I also mentioned how this wasn't just one instance, but a pattern of behavior that I saw from my colleague. After listening to what I had to say, he was glad that I brought it to him and that I should go and talk to me partner and see if that changes anything, if not, maybe all 3 of us need to have a conversation about what the problem was and see if it can be improved on. In addition, he reassured me saying that I was doing very well, etc. and lots of things wouldn't be possible had I not worked on them and he knows that the work couldn't be done if there weren't multiple people putting in the efforts. I also asked regarding the money thing over the summer (emphasizing to the best of my abilities that I did not care for the money, but my performance and how well I was). He said that it was because he thought that my partner had recently graduated and had a financial need, not because it was a reflection of our performance. In the end I asked if there was any constructive criticism and he just said this was not towards me, but other people (I strongly believe it was towards me, else why would he say it? LOL) and one of the ways I could do better would be to *just do the thing.* Instead of thinking of an idea and asking someone if that works and whether to proceed, etc. I should just go ahead and try it out myself and that's how I would transition from being an undergraduate to a graduate student and being more independent. Which I think is completely fair, that's exactly what I had been trying to improve myself.

I then went to talk to my colleague and while he was completely calm, what he said just seemed to bug me. He said, "I'm sorry if you took it that way, I don't think anybody else in the room thought like that," which just transfers the blame towards me. He did say, however, that he mentioned "we" for most of the presentation. Maybe I just need to wait and see if things change and also try and change my thought patterns and maybe not take everything upon myself. Also doing things by myself and building confidence, I've been doing that and gotten better over the past few months, but I just felt like my professor was not noticing the work I was doing.
 
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  • #11
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Also just to clarify, this is a research project, not for a class or credit. I do have the option of entirely stopping and working on a separate project, but I wanna try and also be capable of dealing with situations like this because things will not always be super smooth and easy in life, right?
 
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  • #12
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P.S. when I brought up the summer payment thing, my professor did mention how it would've infuriated some of the other professors even though he's cool with it, so he just wanted to let that be known for the future
 
  • #13
CWatters
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Next time you find a problem with the experiment don't tell the other guy. Let him carry on wasting his time. After he's done his presentation point out the error which you "only discovered last night" and hand over a revised report.
 
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