General

A Spotlight on Prevention of Power Abuse – Second online seminar of the Leibniz PhD Network Online

We are all mostly aware of the inherent flaws of the academic system. Short-term contracts, unclear expectations and a real or at least perceived lack of support in situations of conflict are just some of the challenges in the journey of our PhDs. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hugely impacting our work schedules even more uncertainties around the progress of our research projects arose. It is no surprise that many of us have been feeling under more pressure than usual. Everyone in academia, from PhD candidates to academic leaders and administrative staff, have all been faced with an exceptional situation they may not have been prepared for. In response to these trying times we try to create a greater awareness of potential conflicts and the increased risk of power abuse in academia.

In order to raise awareness of the importance of preventing power abuse, to get a closer understanding of the implications of bad leadership and to come up with some practical advice, the Leibniz PhD Network hosted their second online seminar on 4th June. The topic of the online seminar was  “Prevention of Power Abuse – Leadership, Uncertainty of Working Contracts and Conflict Resolution” The online seminar was organised through a collaboration between the Prevention of Power Abuse and Mental Health Working Groups. If you missed it, you can watch it here:

In the online seminar, we were fortunate to have two exceptional guest speakers to share their perspectives:

Topic: Leadership in Academia

Topic: Leadership and workplace insecurities

The online seminar was moderated by Dr. Elliot Brown (Neuroscientist, Scientific Advisor and Mental Health Advocate at Charité Berlin)

This is a summary of the advice given by the speakers on how to deal with bad leadership and power abuse:

  1. Communication – is a two-way process, clarify expectations, ask for feedback, regard information as something that needs to be proactively spread, but also actively demanded, prepare for meetings beforehand and afterwards.
  2. Find out what ‘type’ your advisor is and interact accordingly (see Prof Peus’ talk)
  3. Find Allies – seek (and provide) social support among peers and join networks, like your local PhD network or others
  4. Mentors – reach out to mentors in your field and beyond
  5. Job crafting – Shape your job conditions proactively (link1, link2)
  6. Report power abuse – if lines are crossed, don’t be silent. 
  7. Leave for a better place – toxic relationships can be a severe burden, be proactive

If you are not sure, if the situation that you are facing is “really” a power abusive situation, we propose to check the definition of the UNESCO Ethics office. The Leibniz Guidelines and the DFG Codex are the guiding principles for every current or past employee in the association to act on. Furthermore we like the more progressive Dutch Code of Conduct on Research Integrity and hope to see more of it in action in Germany soon.  If the suspected case fits with the definitions, then talking to your institutes Ombudspersons, who offer both advice and mediation, can be a possible first step.

If you wonder who else to contact in various cases of conflict, we put together a guide for you that can be accessed here. 

From the Prevention of Power Abuse and Mental Health Working Groups of the Leibniz PhD Network: Anja Jahn, Katharina Willenbücher, Anne-Kathrin Stroppe, Nicole Zerrer, Irene Broer, Dolly Montaño, Stefanie Do and Elliot Brown.

Introducing the WELCOME PACKAGE: a template for a successful start into doctoral research

The working group Welcome Package of the Leibniz PhD Network is very pleased to present the Welcome Package to you!

Several years ago, during the General Assembly some doctoral researchers exchanged experiences on how hard it was for some of them to have a smooth start in their institutes without knowing whom to ask when they had questions and spending a lot of time looking for sources and opportunities in their institutes. Especially, German bureaucracy can be quite overwhelming for international students when first arriving.

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WG Diversity – BLACK LIVES MATTER

Dear Leibniz doctoral community,

If you are not too busy with your research or other errands, you are probably following the huge solidarity manifestation to the anti-racism cause in the past few days. Even though this movement has initially sparked in the United States, the same racism happens all over the world – yes, also in Germany.

The Leibniz PhD Network WG Diversity would like to bring something more to light rather than just reminding people that what differs us in our many skin shades is a mere pigment named melanin, and that this tiny difference has led to years of suffering and oppression that must be acknowledged.

Here you can find 12 suggestions of how to understand racism, especially towards black people all over the world, and hopefully acting against it. The following links were all elaborated by people who feel this matter in their skin every day. Let’s learn from them how to be better and how to help others.

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Invitation to our online seminar on Prevention of Power Abuse

In recent times, good scientific practice, good leadership, and the prevention of power abuse have become a controversial debated topic in academia. Inherent flaws in the academic system like short-term work contracts, unclear or unrealistic expectations, and communication conflicts with colleagues, supervisors, or project partners could lead to the abuse of power. 

We would like to come into conversation with you on that topic and therefore invite you to our second online seminar on the topic of “Prevention of Power Abuse – Aspects of Leadership, Uncertainty of Working Contracts and Conflict Resolution”. The online seminar will take place Thursday 4th June (this thursday!) at 10:00 am (CET) and has been organized by the working groups “Prevention of Power Abuse” and “Mental Health” of the Leibniz PhD Network. 

Please register through the following link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_iSf3w5iYRp6rQVeMzGemTA

If you are not able to attend, it is not a problem! We will upload the recorded online seminar so you can (re)watch it. 

Our invited online seminar speakers are:

Prof. Claudia Peus (Technical University Munich), Topic: Leadership in Academia

Claudia Peus has been Professor of Research and Science Management at Technische Universität München since May 2011, Senior Vice President Talent Management and Diversity since October 2017 and Vice Dean of Executive Education at the TUM School of Management since April 2014. In her research Prof. Peus focuses on effective leadership and leadership development, research and science management as well as (international) HR management.

Prof. Thomas Rigotti (Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research), Topic: Leadership and workplace insecurities

Prof. Dr. Thomas Rigotti is Professor for Organizational and Business Psychology Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz Professor of Industrial, Organizational and Economic Psychology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Research Group Leader at the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research. His research includes the effects of work flexibility, health-promoting leadership, stress and resilience in the work context, and multi-tasking.

To learn more on the Leibniz PhD Network’s position on this topic, check out the N2 position paper on Power Abuse and Conflict Resolution.

We hope to see you there!

Working Groups Prevention of Power Abuse and Mental Health of the Leibniz PhD Network

Different people, different ways of coping with isolation

We are living unexpected times, in which our state of mind depends directly on our mental skills and social settings. Have you given a thought of how your doctoral colleagues are feeling in this very moment? The following are examples of verisimilar situations:

Anne is pregnant. She is in the end of her program, there are only three more months to go. She was supposed to deliver – her baby, not the dissertation – in May. She calculated her pregnancy not to interfere with the defense. The delivery (this time of her dissertation) was in the end of February, and her defense was supposed to take place in the end of April.

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