Thursday, November 11, 2010

Foreigners means copycats

My boss was invited to write a section of a review article, and like most busy bosses, he passed on the job to me. I gladly took it up because I enjoy stuff like that. Now the main author of this review article is another PI (lets call him Dr. mainauthor) and his post-doc from another univ. Today I sent them an email asking about word limits etc. In the ensuing chain of emails, in which every contributing author is cc-ed (totally 4 or 5 people) I find Dr. mainauthor asking his post-doc for a link to a plagiarism checker with a note

"I'd like to fw it to Dr. tgfiboss. We have to be careful with outside authors".

Then in the next email, he has sent us all a link to with a note

"We use this regularly to check all our manuscripts, this is a good way to check cutting and pasting"

I got a bit irked by that but let it go. Then, he follows up this with another separate email to my boss alone in which he says

"Dear Dr. tgfisboss, Please dont take it personally, i admire your writing work, i just want to be careful and avoid problems as we have faced in the past. People from overseas have the habit of cutting and pasting"

What is worse is, this dude is a foreigner himself. All the authors on this review are, except tgfiboss.

What is even worse is, my boss replies to him with one line

"Do what you have to do"

- and cces it to me. Thats how I get to read this dude praising my boss and painting all foreigners with one wide brush. I am not even sure why my boss cc-ed me on it.

This whole thing pisses me off on various levels. The blatant stereotyping, the horrible attitude that it is only important to be respectful to the big guy, the small folks can be insulted/stereotyped all you want and finally, my boss being equally non-committal and dismissive of such attitudes instead of putting in some effort to stand up for the integrity of his lab members.

This is what i plan to write back to him and cc my boss on it (ETA: The text of this email is the result of my husband - B's editing, and hence a lot more professional and less frothing at the mouth :) )

"Dear Dr. Mainauthor

I understand your concerns. I am familiar with having used it as a TA when I taught undergrad classes, where violations were prevalent regardless of nationality or country of origin. Please feel free to check my work using your resources.



greensatya said...

I have to comment on this. I think your reply is perfect and go with it. I would not blame anyone as much as your 'Boss', and I believe he/she should have been standing up for the team. Those team leaders who don't stand for their team, will have the same treatment coming up for this. Cause for every boss there is a boss !

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

you know what Satya, I wish that were true, but it sadly isn't . The higher up you are, the more power you have and the more immunity you have.

arpz said...

U really must send that email out!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

I just did.

Doli said...

Great email. I feel encouraged reading that you sent it. And the tone of your email was respectful and correct :) I liked the way u handled the situation.

SF-1 said...

I wonder if Dr Mainauthor would be thinking (infact checking) whether you again did ctrl+c and ctrl+v in this e-mail too!!!

Did he reply yet?

nitish said...

He'll probably dustball your email out of sheer habit.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Yep, complete radio silence from his end. I am not expecting a response, anyway.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

OMG I just realised if he dustballed the email he'll find my blog!

la vida loca said...

well said. on all accounts.