You have more of a boss problem than a student problem. I would certainly go to the resources available for supervisors to get advice. You've got two people to try to manage here.
That is pretty true.
How long can she stay in the program if she produces nothing? Is there some procedure for her not being allowed to stay past a certain point if she has shown no evidence of work (such as a thesis outline, research outline, steps already carried out, participation in publications, etc.)?
Our students are on probation for the first year, and are only confirmed after reaching several milestones (submitting a plan, giving seminar to faculty). After that there is an annual report every year where her head supevisor has to state whether her performance is satisfactory. If he doesn't tick that box, she is immediately suspended. Boss is too much of a softie to do that though - he outright admitted he shouldn't have ticked satisfactory for her.
She gave her official seminar this week (nearly half a year late, and she shouldn't have come off probation without it). It was a total trainwreck
. It's supposed to be where she presents her research plan, but given she's so far in, she decided to present some initial data. The problem is that, with only one exception, none of the data was generated by her. She wasn't even involved, but she was passing it off as her own without any acknowledgements or citations. It wasn't until the Q&A after that she admitted that some work
was done by an interstate collaborator, but only
because she couldn't answer the broadest of questions about it.
She promoted hypotheses that have been conclusively disproven some years ago (so she's not familiar with the literature), showed she wasn't aware of current theories (again literature), and just generally waffled and BSd her way through the entire thing. She also agreed to peform some additional experimental work (very time consuming stuff) after a discussion with someone in the Q&A session because she couldn't defend her plan well enough. It's not work she needs to do, and all I could think was "and who do you plan to outsource that to?". If she had done some basic work I suggested weeks ago, she would have been able to explain why it wasn't necessary. The thing that made it even more excrutiating, is that her presentation was in the same session as another student from our lab, and they were flawless
I briefly discussed with boss the issue of her misrepresenting work as her own and he agreed it was not OK. I'm very much leaning towards giving her some feedback on the talk (with a followup email) because it's my job, but otherwise taking boss at his word about dealing with her.
I'm really unsure about whether boss will deal with her. Ordinarily I would say you had more chance being run down by a glacier, but the move to a new lab might force the issue. In the new lab there are two student areas - one that is very private and enclosed, and the second which is sandwiched between boss's office and the post-doc office, which are essentially two glass boxes. Despite being the second most junior student, my student has announced she will a) sit next to her best friend in the office and b) sit in the private area. I have told her that all seating arrangements are up to boss, and that she will sit where she is told. She has already tried to go to another post-doc and demand that she be guaranteed her place of choice, but was told no.
I've told boss that it's best she's firmly under our gaze, and that it's a good opportunity to show her she's not top dog. Boss actually agreed, but we'll see if he follows through. Student is determined to get her way, so she'll try and scoop the desk she wants regardless of what she's told.