How to push back against bullies in academia

I’m sure most of us know of at least one notorious workplace bully (or other type of shithead) in our field; the kind of professor about whom there’s an open secret of their bad behaviour, but given that universities don’t give a toss about this issue there is no chance of them being formally sanctioned.  An effective solution I’ve recently come across is the following: simply refuse to have anything to do with their work.  If you’re asked to review one of their papers, decline and let the journal know that you don’t feel you can ethically review their work.  If you’re asked to review on of their grant applications, do the same.  If you’re invited to speak in the same session as them at a conference, decline and let the organisers know your reasoning.

On this topic, one thing that amazes me is the fact that most universities don’t do exit interviews with departing staff members.  If you want to test a hypothesis (e.g. there is or isn’t a problem with workplace bullying in a given group or department) you need to gather data.  Simply relying on a passive monitoring system (i.e., self-reporting of incidents by victims) is nothing short of a deliberate strategy to avoid seeing the problem.

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