Reaction to Bias

Description of the Problem

The graduate students, post-docs, and professor in your research group have spent the past week brainstorming ideas for a major new proposal to submit to the National Science Foundation. After much discussion, the professor selects Sally's idea to be the core of the proposal, and invites John to be Co-PI with him, and to take the lead in coordinating preparation of the proposal.  Both Sally and John are senior post-docs in the lab.

It is a real honor and a career advantage to be a PI early in one's career.  By offering one of his post-docs the opportunity to be Co-PI and work with him on preparing the grant, the professor is helping launch the post-doc's career. The issue is, why didn't the professor offer this opportunity to Sally, since the core idea in the proposal was hers?


  • In considering this scenario, how should the different students and postdocs respond to this decision by the professor?
  • What should Sally do?
  • What are John’s responsibilities?
  • Is it unrealistic to suggest to John that he express his concern to the professor?
Gray arrow Reaction to Bias Discussion