The question Allegations and Discriminations agains a PhD student just came in and is currently on hold. The OP says the question was asked at both Academia and Law and was recommended to ask over here.

What should be done with this question?

I think as originally posted it was far too long and difficult to understand, so understandable it would have been closed on the other sites. The revised summary is much better, but I think the best version is somewhere between the two. Right now it's off-topic for any site, but I think there's a good question in there somewhere.

The main question is, where does it belong? I think the short version of the question is clearly Academia and not Workplace - it's about a PhD student and harassment from their adviser, including issues regarding grading and other university departments. A lot of the aspects here involve some serious legal matters, and while legal questions are not on-topic on either site, I think Academia would be able to offer better recommendations for student legal resources.

The options as I see them are:

  • Leave question closed
  • Edit to bring on topic and keep at The Workplace
  • Edit to bring on topic and migrate to Academia
  • Migrate to Academia and let them bring it on-topic

#3 makes the most sense to me, though it's also the most work for the least benefit to The Workplace. Thoughts?


4 Answers 4


Let's see: advisers, formal complaints, university investigations, and wondering what anti-discrmination laws apply to a PhD student? That's all well and truly in the realm of academia. None of that is suitable for the Workplace. This is one of those scenarios where the Academic world plays by its own rules. I haven't the faintest which employment laws apply to PhD or graduate students, if any. And if they do they might not apply fully or there could be exceptions and special rules. Harassment scenarios are already a giant minefield to cover when you're talking about a regular workplace, let alone something as stereotypically dysfunctional as a university campus. A regular HR specialist wouldn't be able to answer this without considerable knowledge of and experience with the academic world.

The short question is very clearly within the real of the Academic world. Whether it's also in-scope on [academia.se] is something the people there have to answer. My guess is that it's too badly formed or too complex which is why the pushed the OP to another site. Regardless, it's certainly out of our scope.

I've only scanned the long version and the presence of that wall of text alone is sufficient reason to close it as unclear before we even consider whether there's an answerable question there.

And of course the Golden Rule of Migration applies in full here.


As I posted on on the question:

I don't know what your question here is. It seems like you are effectively asking for legal advice? But it's not really clear to me?

I'm not sure what they are asking, short of legal counsel. It almost reads like a request for affirmation/support, but like I said, I'm not really sure.


You are right, the long version had no place anywhere.

Before we migrate this, I think we need to find out what type of answer they are looking for.

If the question is regarding navigating new advisors, and how to do that properly, I think this is a prime candidate for Academia. If they are looking for legal counsel, then it should be edited and sent over to Law SE. If none of those are true, I think it may need to be closed unless they can ask it in such a way to be on topic for us.


I think this question is more generally applicable than it's given credit for.

Does there exist already a parallel question about "My supervisor is trying to set me up for firing/ruin my career by giving me bad reviews which are objectively incorrect?" If so, then this question can be closed as a duplicate. If not, then this question, appropriately phrased!, could be of huge help to someone outside the academic workplace.

There is also a useful question in "A former supervisor is attempting to make trouble with my new department by bringing baseless accusations to my new supervisor, what should I do to protect myself"? I'm not sure if there's a good answer to this, but the kind of sabotaging behavior described here is in no way limited to the academic workplace environment (even if it is shaded a little by the nature of academic power relations).

Maybe the OP of this question can't be persuaded to rewrite this as one of those two questions, but I think those are really important questions to have answered here, and this is a pretty good opportunity to do so.

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