Holy crap, batman, academic bullies are just flying out of the woodwork. Makes me wonder if I've been mistakenly putting on my academic bully attractant instead of my deodorant in the mornings! First there was the student trying to bully me into scheduling his comps for a time I repeatedly told him I couldn't do. Now, this morning I awoke to a series of emails that made me both laugh and cry at the same time.
The story goes as follows: A certain individual, let's call him Dr. Crapweasel, has been trying for over a year to insert himself into a collaboration that I am a leader on. He has emailed several times asking to be involved and - since he doesn't have any expertise or skills we require for this project - he is told no everytime. I seriously don't understand what is going on with this guy. It's like someone threatened to shoot him in the head if he didn't get on the project. (I did actually wonder at one point if we had some weird state secret in our research that another government would desperately want and therefore threatened to kill this guy's wife and children if he didn't infiltrate our group and obtain said secret....but this is generally unlikely in ecology and particularly so for any research I am involved in!)
Well, Dr. Crapweasel upped the ante today in a classic academic bully kind of way. He finally decided if he didn't like the answer he was getting, he would go over my head and find someone who would. This is, of course, is interesting since there is no one over my head! So, what did Dr. Crapweasel do? He found the most senior male on the project (who is incidentally not a leader of this project) and asked him if it was okay if he participated. So I get an email from Dr. GrandPuumba saying he thinks having Dr. Crapweasel join the project is a great idea. Somehow the justification is based on a project Dr. Crapweasel has started working on with Dr. GrandPuumba that has nothing to do with the project I am a leader on, but I'll let that slide for the moment.
You are now understanding the crying part of the morning. I am just so frustrated by people who think they can make me do what they want by getting a more senior male to back them up. I cannot tell you the number of times I have had this happen. It's like it's printed in some playbook for Academic Bullies - want to be a co-author on a project you've done nothing for and have nothing to contribute? Lead author on the project telling you to take a hike? No problem! Here's a fail proof method for you! Head directly to the most senior and powerful person on the author line that you can find - get the powerful person with no authority to tell the more junior person who actually is in charge that they want you to be a co-author and viola, you're a co-author with very little work! Just like magic! In my situation, Dr. GrandPuumba is a very major and enormous deal in my field, so it is a very good gamble on Dr. Crapweasel's part that I might feel it behooved my career to do whatever Dr. GrandPuumba wanted. I'm sure he's sitting there smugly thinking he check-mated me.
I hate this shit and I think it's really starting to mess with my mental well-being.
Since it appears that our heroine is stuck between acquiescing to an Academic Bully and pissing off a GrandPuumba by overruling him, you may be wondering right about now where the laughing part comes in? Well, here it is: Dr. Crapweasel misjudged two critically important thing. First, while I am still having problems with students who are academic bullies, I am well versed in how to handle peers who are academic bullies. Second, while Dr. GrandPuumba is Dr. GrandPuumba to Dr. Crapweasel, Dr. GrandPuumba is just Fred to me. Not only are Fred GrandPuumba and I really tight, we've actually dealt with this exact situation before on another project. As long as I explain the situation to Fred, Fred will back me up. Furthermore, Fred will be very unhappy that Dr. Crapweasel was using him. I'm practically giddy with anticipation for the letter I'm going to write....
Dear Dr. Crapweasel:
It is my pleasure to inform you that you fucked with the wrong person.