“Growing Up to Be a Scientist” was almost an ideal answer during Marin’s childhood. He did indeed pursue that path, and to this day, the lecturer in his thirties vaguely remembers the aspirations of his youth: “The life of the scientific community should be like a pastoral poem, with knowledgeable people coming together to pursue knowledge and truth. For the sake of a common goal, the scientific community should unwaveringly support each other.”
However, unfortunately, when he immersed himself in it, the scientific community did not meet his expectations. Instead, what unfolded before him was a different picture under the power hierarchy in academia. “During my studies, in the lab with over 30 people, there were several small groups competing for resources. Senior students would casually delegate unwanted tasks to junior students,” advised by friendly seniors, “Be cautious and don’t casually discuss feasible ideas with others.” Marin had a paper published in a core journal, where the supervisor made almost no contribution but still claimed first authorship.
After starting his job, things didn’t get any better. His own research time was constantly encroached upon, as the “seniors” delegated trivial matters to him, and he could hardly refuse because “these people could be among the evaluators for future assessments.” After joining the team of institute leaders, he spent at least a year helping them with their papers and writing their own notebooks, with zero personal achievements.
Marin found it difficult to describe this ecosystem in words, as if it were a toxic air. In order to survive, he could only immerse himself in it, but he and his peers clearly felt uncomfortable.
Similar problems plague the academic community abroad, and researchers in these environments have found a more precise term to describe it: “Academic bullying.”
Virginia Tech University provides a clear definition:
Academic bullying is a sustained and progressive aggressive behavior targeted at others, mainly occurring among researchers in higher education institutions and research organizations. Perpetrators of academic bullying can be administrative leaders, authoritative scholars, professors within the university, as well as colleagues or classmates working in the same research field.
Academic bullying includes common forms of campus bullying such as verbal abuse, public humiliation, cyber defamation, and social isolation. It also encompasses specific phenomena within the academic domain, such as compelling subordinates or students to undertake unnecessary research tasks, appropriating or depriving others of academic achievements