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Dissertation Committee Chair Compensation

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by PsyD2015, 10.02.12.

  1. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    Greetings fellow students of psych!

    I am just getting started on my dissertation and have been contacting PhDs and PsyDs to recruit a reader for my committee. I attend Alliant Intl. California School of Forensic Studies. I have recently contacted a professor from another campus and in her reply she wanted to know if there was compensation for the position. I'm a little confused by this. I cannot find anything about this issue in my materials, and while I am awaiting a response from my campus I thought I'd pose the issue here for some additional guidance.

    I had thought that participating in someone's dissertation granted the committee members the credit in the dissertation itself. Has anyone else been through this before?
  2. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    I'd be curious what she's requesting/inquiring after re: "compensation." When I think of compensation, I immediately spring to a monetary mindset; if she's wondering if she'll be directly paid for her time, this would probably throw up a bit of a red flag in my head.

    If she's referring to academic compensation, then yes, I'd say that if she has substantive input into the project (which she should if she's the chair), then including her on any publications coming directly from it could be appropriate.

    Edit: However, as Pragma mentioned, if she attempts to make her participation contingent on receiving some type of authorship, again, red flag (at least in my head).

    In general (again as Pragma mentioned), serving on committees is generally just seen as good "citizenship" in the academic community. This type of participation is often required for things like tenure.
  3. Pragma

    Pragma

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    This seems very inappropriate. Some programs even have strict rules about anything that might influence the integrity of the academic process. For example, students in our program were not permitted to even have refreshments at the defense, because it could be viewed as bribing the committee (although really, I think the hope would be that they stuff their faces and ask fewer questions :D).

    Most academic institutions give people some form of credit for participating as a reader. They can list it as a mentoring activity on their CV. I recognize it is an outside person, but this is usually viewed as service to the profession. Some readers, if they are involved actively, might also be suitable co-authors. Paying someone to serve on your committee brings up questions of tampering, and is a huge red flag.
  4. docma

    docma

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    Historically, there was time when Psy.D. programs would compensate "outside readers" who were clinicians in practice that had an expertise to function as readers and were not in faculty positions. It was a professional stipend to compensate for time involved in meetings, readings, defense of proprosal and thesis for staff who did not have any other salary from the institution. It was not paid by the student and so was probably not vulnerable to ethical violation. Financial realities mean this is probably not happening much anymore but it is not an unrealistic thing for someone to ask if they are being invited onto a committee in a clinical expert role.
  5. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    Thank you for your answers. I was a little put off by the question myself. It didn't occur to me that (best case scenario) she may be referring to author/credit. That I am more than happy to give. But I had thought the same as both of you that it was a professional citizenship and not something that should be financially supported.

    The interesting thing is that this individual is an adjunct prof at our school, just at a different campus. I am surprised that she has not been someone's reader before unless she's new to the school. Her body of work is right in the wheelhouse of my dissertation, so I hope this all pans out.

    Again, thank you for the opinions and information. I appreciate it. :D :thumbup:
  6. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Well you could very well discuss the issue with your dissertation chair or DCT. I definitely would not agree to pay any money without covering all of your bases.

    I had never heard of this practice before this thread. It makes some sense, given that people are sacrificing some time (and if it is just a clinician). But it still sounds concerning (and possibly coercive) to me.
  7. Rivi

    Rivi

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    Yes, this sounds weird to me too. I definitely would NOT pay anyone money to do it.
  8. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Ed Psych PhD student Moderator Gold Donor

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    Yeah, if compensation means money this is definitely super sketch. If compensation means authorship on any publications that come out of the dissertation, that makes more sense, provided the chair contributed substantially. (I knew of one case where the one of the co-chairs--who was co-chairing for technical reasons--barely read the student's thesis and still expected authorship on any forthcoming publications. IMO, that's not justified, but I think that's an extremely rare situation)
  9. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    As docma mentioned, I would assume reference to financial compensation refers to whether the university offers any sort of stipend for outside readers to compensate for their time, meetings, etc. If this is an adjunct primarily in practice I could see that. I can't imagine any scenario in which the student would be expected to provide compensation.
  10. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    I thought it was basically required to have dissertation committee chairs be FT faculty at a program? If not, wouldn't that open up the program to all sorts of ethical dilemmas related to objectivity of the person/people selected if they were being paid purely for their participation on the committee?
  11. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Good point. Having attended a "traditional" PhD program myself, I wasn't sure if this was maybe something that differed or wasn't required in the Alliant system. One would think that while committee members could be adjuncts, unless the person was the individual's actual advisor (which happened with one or two people in my program as a prof was closing down their lab), they'd need to be full-time faculty.

    Then again, maybe there's just a requirement that X number of folks be FT faculty? Or maybe there's no requirement at all.
  12. wigflip

    wigflip

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    I'd be nervous about having an adjunct on my committee. Adjuncts (often but not always) = poorly paid relative to FT faculty, poorly treated both in comparison to and by FT faculty, and potentially less institutional accountability (for advising, since it's not technically within the scope of their jobs). FT are "paid" for their committee work (it's an expected part of the job for which they are already paid), but adjuncts are paid teachers whose "salaries" may only encompass in-class time, with little regard for outside-of-class activities (email, prep, grading, meeting with students). Given these circumstances, asking for "compensation" may be a way of alerting OP to these realities, or simply a way to encourage OP to ask someone else who's FT.
  13. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    I think this could be one of those areas where clinical/counseling/school differs from other areas of academia. In my experiences with my own department (which may or may not generalize, of course), the adjuncts are clinicians/researchers who adjunct simply for the enjoyment of training students and teaching courses. None of the adjuncts that I know in our department do it primarily for the money, or because they're hoping to segway it into a FT professorship (many actually already hold tenured positions at academic med/research centers, or own successful private practices). At least a couple were actually FT faculty at one point and have moved on to other areas, but like to keep some contact with the students and other professors.

    Although as I mentioned, this obviously may have just been limited to my specific program.
  14. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I think it is probably a very individual thing. People adjunct for a lot of different reasons. I was adjuncting and only did it for the money/experience, and I would imagine that in most cases, adjuncts are in a similar boat. I could see an adjunct trying to get the inside track deciding to volunteer more of their time to mentor students (in order to make them more competitive for other jobs), but that seems like it would be the exception to me. But I haven't got data.
  15. wigflip

    wigflip

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    Of course AA is right--I forgot that the picture looks a little different. But I wonder to what degree what AA says applies to Alliant specifically. My hunch is that they're drawing more on the PP crowd than the AMC crowd to fill those spots. (No disrespect meant to PP.)

    Re: bold:
    The reasons I've observed across a variety of fields are:

    1. adjuncting while in grad school to boost teaching CV (not the same as #2-4)

    2. whoops! I was one of the 199-499 people who didn't get that post-doc/TT job, guess I have to eat anyway

    3. I hope to one day go TT at the institution for which I'm adjuncting (not impossible, but usually a fail)

    4. I need to maintain some kind of institutional affiliation for publication while continuing to duke it out on the job market (sometimes for the fourth year)

    my heart goes out to 'em. from my own limited experience, the adjuncts aren't less qualified than the TT job market winners, just less lucky. TT faculty who put them down (categorically) should be ashamed.
  16. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yes these are all reasons I have seen. But at least within clinical, I also know several people that do it on the side that have a different full time job. They might work in PP, a healthcare setting, or perhaps in some capacity at a nonprofit (I know some administrators at MH nonprofits that teach on the side). I also know some people that choose to adjunct because they want to be a parent and prefer the flexibility of choosing how many courses to teach. They generally have partners working full time.

    The benefits of adjuncting usually include a) bonus income, b) intellectual stimulation for those that are in the clinical trenches (or "rut" as my mentor referred to it as), c) academic perks like library privileges, and d) yes, networking and teaching experience if you are trying to get on the TT.

    In other fields, I'd imagine there are fewer outside employment options that there are for clinical folks. I do feel very sorry for folks forced to take substandard wages in this economy and terrible job climate for academic positions. I'd agree that folks who talk about adjuncts condescendingly from their TT posts probably could use a nice kick the the a$*.

    But conditions for adjuncts do vary a bit by institution. I felt like I got pretty good pay (around 4K per class). At my current institution where I am TT, the faculty are actually unionized and the interests of adjuncts and other non-TT jobs are formally represented. They are compensated pretty well. But yes, I am aware of the terrible compensation that happens at a lot of other places.
  17. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    The CC where I'm adjuncting actually pays pretty well.
  18. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    I've never heard of anyone in this field adjuncting as a primary source of employment. All of reasons 2-4 seem foolish to me for someone with a clinical degree, unless one is extremely limited location-wise and literally cannot find anything (at which point I would likely be seriously reconsidering if academia is a realistic path anyways given the current market). Why not stick around in post-doc? Typically ~40k (or more), benefits and other perks that usually don't go along with adjuncting, research is usually a focus rather than something you have to squeeze in on the side, its generally far easier to make the leap from post-doc > faculty then adjunct > FT faculty at the same institution, and you can still adjunct on the side if you like teaching or want to build up the teaching experience. I've seen some of #1 (may do this myself at some point depending on circumstances), am not sure I've ever seen 2-4, but most commonly see people doing it for fun/access to resources (e.g. library) or as a favor to a colleague.

    As for the particulars of this situation - that just seems bizarre. I know some universities require you have a true "outsider" on the committee, but this is typically a FT faculty member at another university. My program (and most that I'm familiar with) simply require you have someone with no formal affiliation to the department (but can still be within the university).

    Certainly, if I was "chairing" someone's dissertation I would expect it to count for a lot as that requires a significant amount of time, potentially resources, etc. Then again, I suspect I'm thinking in terms of a substantially different type of dissertation than I'm guessing is the standard at Alliant.
  19. Pragma

    Pragma

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    My postdoc only paid about 30K, and it was hard to get. Just sayin' - postdocs aren't a given either.
  20. paramour

    paramour

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    Granted, not in psych (that I know of . . . ), there seem to be quite a few folks at the CC where I teach whose primary/only source of income is as an adjunct.
  21. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    Weren't you geographically restricted though? I get why that might make them more challenging to find. I suspect the market is tightening a bit with grant funding drying up, but honestly this board is the only place I ever hear about people having troubles finding post-doc or making less than the NIH payline. We pay 45k and routinely can't find qualified people and go unfilled, another place pays 50 and has flat out told my advisor he will take anyone from our group, sight unseen, if they are interested. From the number of repeat emails I get, I can think of at least 2-3 others offhand that clearly struggle to fill openings.

    Edit: Was yours a clinical post-doc (as in purely)? That might explain the difference in pay - I'd heard those pay less. For research post-docs, it seems like it would be pretty unusual for them to not at least be in the ballpark of the NIH payline.
  22. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah I was restricted and mostly clinical. I didn't foray into the broader research postdoc market. Pay can be decent (isn't NIH mid-40's?), but I'd imagine the opportunities are going to vary depending on where you are and what you want to do. Not everyone can get F grants either.

    It sounds like there are lots of openings there - perhaps I am a bit biased because I live in a major city and there is a lot of competition for jobs here. Faculty that I know at different universities here who hire research postdocs get tons of applications.

    That said - hopefully the postdoc salary is enough to cover your losses for the people who had to pay their dissertation readers :p
  23. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    I'd actually thought NIH was high-30's (based on what a few of the postdocs I looked at paid), so I must've been quite off. Then again, does NIH have different pay scales for clinical vs. research fellowships...? I didn't think that was the case, but I've obviously been wrong before.
  24. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    NIH payline is about 39k last I checked (starting - it goes up each year). To my knowledge NIH does not distinguish between research and clinical. To my knowledge they don't even fund "purely" clinical positions, but plenty of the research post-docs do have clinical components and/or opportunity to get hours for licensure.

    I'm sure it does vary by area. The places I'm thinking of aren't exactly NY/Chicago/LA but aren't necessarily the classic "undesirable" locations either. I'm in a large city in sunny FL, which isn't exactly where I'd like to be long-term but isn't "bad" either. I imagine the research post-doc is a bit of a niche market though. I've gotten the impression many applications have little to offer beyond "I have a doctorate, am vaguely familiar with most clinical psychology-ish things and will do what I'm told", which is not exactly a unique skill set. So when I say its not competitive, it doesn't mean there aren't applications, it just means many are likely not from serious candidates. I've never heard of anyone with a defined research program and some geographical flexibility truly struggle to find one, even those with a fairly modest pub record.
  25. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    I know people who adjunct for their primary source of income, but they usually do it at two different colleges.
  26. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    I should probably clarify our program requirements for committee since I saw a few posts that touched on this.

    -We only have a two person committee required. A third person can be added.
    -Our chair must be core faculty.
    -We may choose someone within the Alliant umbrella or someone outside provided a CV is submitted along with a form or two for approval by our program director.

    Additionally, we only have one professor in my program (at our campus) that is not working elsewhere. There doesn't seem to be a distinction between our core faculty and our adjuncts except that I notice an adjunct will only provide one particular course vs. the core faculty teach us every semester.

    Hope this clarifies. I'm going to discuss with my chair tonight and provide feedback.
  27. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA

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    If you look at the information available online regarding Alliant CSFS, it appears that there are less than 30 faculty total at the Fresno campus. If match statistics are any metric, there would appear to be at least 20-40 students per class year. With other departments to draw committee members from, that would make it tough for everyone doing a diss to find faculty with the time to be on another committee. Like many others here, we had some pretty specific minimum committee make-up guidelines (e.g. Chair= advisor, certain number clinical faculty, certain number pych dept. non-clin faculty, one faculty outside psych dept.). Direct compensation from the student was never discussed at any level. However, there was a lot of implicit quid pro quo amongst committee members along the lines of "I'll be on your students committee if you'll be on my students sometime." I don't know that deals were explicitly struck or anything unethical went on, but when putting together your committee it was not uncommon for advisors to imply that certain faculty "owed them one."

    As for adjuncting, my primary benefits seem to be: a) networking with other professionals; b) networking with/ meeting students; c) forced keeping up with the literature and other new developments in the field; d) online access to psycinfo and journals; e)paycheck. That said, take away any of a-c, and i'd still do it. Take away "c", I'd be unlikely to continue after the current semester. Take away "e", and I'd quit today. (for you behavior analysts playing along at home- that's the difference between preferences and reinforcers)
  28. Pragma

    Pragma

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    :laugh:
  29. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    I spoke to my chair and there is no compensation provided by the school and it would be unethical (as we all know) for a student to pay someone to sit on their committee. I did inquire if it was okay to reimburse for travel expenses for the individual to fly down to participate in the defense, etc. and am waiting for a response on that.
  30. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Maybe they could just conference in? I have heard of that being done, but usually in the context of a larger committee. We had 5 on our committees, so one person conferencing in wasn't a huge deal if it had to be that way.
  31. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    We had the ability to use our university's video teleconferencing rooms for meetings, assuming the person was faculty at our institution. We also had/have 5 on our committees, though, so one person video chatting in wasn't a huge proportion.

    If the individual wasn't faculty (e.g., if they'd been a prof at the time of the proposal, but had left for another position by the time the defense rolled around), you had to obtain permission directly from the graduate school dean. It doesn't sound like that'd be an issue with the OP, though, as the individual in question is faculty at another campus in the system.

    Edit: Although I'd caution against this if the person really is going to be your chair. It can be hard enough to pin committee members down to meet regarding revisions, ideas, etc., when they're at your campus; having to do this with someone in another city (especially when faculty can be notoriously bad about responding to emails) could be asking for trouble.
  32. Pragma

    Pragma

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    It sounds funny, but I really believe that getting 5 faculty members together for your proposal defense and final defense is at least as challenging as completing the dissertation itself :oops:
  33. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Haha not funny at all. For many people (myself included), other than writing the actual document, that was the most difficult part of the defense. Next in line would be reformatting everything to meet the grad school's unique publication reqs.
  34. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    For me, that was the worst part of the whole thing. I still have nightmares about that. Especially since our progam secretary that speaks to the Dean's office about such formatting (clinical students had slightly different requirements than other PhD programs) and guides us through the process was on medical leave while I was prepping my diss. I never appreciated her more than when she was gone for this process.

    Given everything else I have heard about the OP's dissertation process, I am thinking this person does not want to read and is not interested in doing anything outside the parameters of teaching adjuncting (or simply cannot afford to, us early career people are not exactly rolling in it).
  35. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    I got the answer to this one last night. It is ok for the committee member to phone in. We do also have a video conferencing room and I'm sure we could also make that work.

    I now have a secondary question. The person I asked to be on my committee has asked me for an outline of my topic. I am reluctant to provide it because I know that it's hard to protect intellectual property and I feel like the topic itself is pretty self explanatory. Would you give the outline or politely decline to provide it without commitment?
  36. psycscientist

    psycscientist

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    I wouldn't agree to be on a random person's committee without at least an abstract of the proposed idea. From their perspective, you're asking them to basically donate their time to you (without having an obligation to you as a faculty member in your program). So, if it sounds like your project is a train-wreck or will involve lots of involvement from them to help you (not saying that's the case with you), then they'll want to know that up front before committing to do it.
  37. Pragma

    Pragma

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    If they are on your committee, why would there be any problem with this?
  38. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    Um, just put yourself in their shoes if you were asked to be on a committee. 1.) you wanna know what you're in for and how (and if) you can even meaningfully contribute to it. 2). Its your JOB to know the topic so you can appropriately supervise it and make suggestions.

    I am unclear why you would have an issue with this. Seems pretty basic to me.
  39. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    My main issue is that I have contacted this person to inquire as to whether they will be on my committee. The design of the study etc. are my intellectual property and because that is challenging to protect without going through much legality, I do not want to disclose the whole study without a commitment. I have provided the title of my study, and the basics of what I am attempting to find out through my research. I'll reiterate that this person will be serving as a reader, and will not be responsible for the set up of my study since that is handled by my chair and research faculty, therefore, they would be committing to reading my work, providing opinion on the work and then appearing via phone for my defense and proposal. I have no qualms about sharing with my committee but only after I have received a commitment.
  40. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    Good luck getting committee members then. There's no way I'd agree to have anything to do with a project (reader or otherwise) without knowing what it is. If the project is terrible I wouldn't want to be associated with it - even as a reader. If someone was willing to come on board with a project, sight unseen, I'd actually take it as a bad sign that they don't have anything better to do and apparently don't value their time. If I was a faculty member and it was a student I knew was good and had a good reputation I might be somewhat flexible, but unless I'm mistaken this was someone you had no prior contact with whatsoever. You are essentially asking them to do you a favor, but are unwilling to share with them how "big" a favor you are expecting until they agree to it.

    If you have this little trust for the person - why are you asking them to serve on the committee? I wouldn't ask someone to be on it if I was worried they were going to scoop me on the publication (which I assume is the concern here?). I think its totally reasonable for them to know what they are getting involved in before agreeing to serve - remember that you are approaching them, they aren't coming to you. If you can't trust them, that's probably a sign that you should be asking someone else.

    I was applying for grants - a much higher stakes game than the typical dissertation - and sent out my specific aims to several people around the country I'd never met before to see if they would be willing to serve as consultants. Its a risk you have to take if you want to get others involved - particularly if you are early in your career.
    Last edited: 10.18.12
  41. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    Who chooses a dissertation committee member who they thinks their are unethical enough to steal their "intellectual property." Seriously...

    Personally, I would say "settle down there youngin." Your intellectual property isn't "property" till someone helps you develop it. And, yes, all committee members have a some amount of say in the process. If this was your attitude towards me, I would not agree to be on your committee.

    I hope you never plan to try to apply for grants with an attitude like that....
    Last edited: 10.19.12
  42. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah you seem way too paranoid....no offense intended. If you don't trust your committee member then they shouldn't be one.

    Given the fact it is a dissertation....you really should settle down, IMO. I share ideas all of the time...if you aren't willing to collaborate, you aren't getting anywhere. I would never serve on a committee without knowing what the project is...you need that info to evaluate whether it is even appropriate for you to be a committee member. I recall sitting down with all 5 members individually to go over my dissertation project before they decided.

    Plus, you have some protection here as it is your project.
  43. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA

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    Seriously- doesn't your institution have policies governing dissertation committees? Don't you have an advisor/mentor to run this stuff by? I'd be wary of committee members who didn't want details about what the the project was all about- it's their responsibility to evaluate the quality of your work, and they shouldn't take on that role if it's beyond their abilities or too far outside their areas of expertise. My prospective dissertation committee members requested meetings with me to review the project before they agreed to be on the committee. Give her/him what she asked for.

    As far as stealing your intellectual property, are you concerned that this person might conduct the study before you do? If so, don't have them on your committee. If your worried that they will do it afterwards, you should be somewhat protected in that, if you are at an accredited institution with standard dissertation policies, your final product will likely be copyrighted, publication in Dissertation Abstracts International. Seriously, though, it's unlikely that your intellectual property will be: a) stolen; b) unique enough to need protection from stealing; or c) of sufficient value that there will be actual damages to you if it is stolen.
  44. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky

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    This is EXACTLY it. Well said. :D

    Collaboration in academia is important. For the most part, people can be trusted.
  45. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    for less formal meetings to discuss revisions, etc, if they and you have google accounts you can also google+ it--you can do skyle-like videoconferencing, but also screensharing, so you and watch edits live while you talk.
  46. PsyD2015

    PsyD2015 Probie

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    Thank you for your post. I know it appears paranoid, but when you know someone that has had their work "stolen" it makes you more cautious than the average person. I have already gone through everything with my chair and because he's someone I have worked with for almost two years, I have complete trust in him. We are encouraged to get committee members that have specialization in our topic areas. Unfortunately, this has sent me looking for someone off campus. I am more wary of someone I don't know. I ended up emailing the person back with some info and she's going to contact my chair.

    As for policies on dissertation standards, they are vague and ambiguous when it comes to committees. Basically they require that the person submit a CV and then the program director decides if they make the cut. Other than that, there's nothing in there about the things you mentioned which is concerning.

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