General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

When someone uses your idea.

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You made a choice not to continue with your own project; she didn't prevent you from completing it, so I don't think there's anything to be said. She did nothing wrong, and to my way of thinking, part of the reason to have small, in-depth seminars is so everyone can be exposed to others' ideas and thought processes.


--- Quote from: CaptainObvious on December 13, 2012, 03:57:48 PM ---I don't see the issue? Unless there was a rule that forbade 2 people from covering the same topic, why couldn't you both do it?

--- End quote ---

Part of the proposal is innovating an idea that hasn't yet been done the way you're proposing it (filling a gap in the existing literature) so it makes it a bit awkward if you're following a presentation proposing the same thing as you. I guess creativity is sort of implicit in the criteria for the project.

To clarify, this situation worked out fine as far as I'm concerned but my question is more in case I run into this problem again and I *do* want to politely lay claim to my project.

Why not just say, "Oh, that's the project I had planned on doing.  I've had some additional ideas about class." But if there's a sign up process to make sure no one is doing the same project, then I'm sure it'll be a first come, first served scenario, correct?  They're not going to assign a project and make it so that no one can do the same subject if the instructor doesn't have a way to police that, right?

Ohhh, that's frustrating -- yeah, in this sort of academic situation, originality is important.  It's happened to me before and I froze up and had no idea how to handle it, and wound up changing my topic, pretty much exactly like you did. 

In hindsight, I really like TurtleDove's advice and wish I'd done this:

--- Quote from: TurtleDove on December 13, 2012, 03:44:20 PM ---
--- Quote from: LadyL on December 13, 2012, 03:31:18 PM --- All of this made me wonder, at the point when she told me she was thinking about using that topic, what would have been a polite way to say "Oh, you mean like the idea I was talking about in class?" without it seeming like I was trying to lay claim in a "mine, not yours!" kind of way? And if I had actually been really invested in the topic, is there any way I could have told her that I was already thinking of using the idea without it being awkward? At the time I mostly couldn't come up with any sort of phrasing that didn't sound in my head like "You're coooppying meee!" (thanks social awkwardness).

--- End quote ---

I don't think you can point out it was your idea without it seeming like you are laying a claim to the idea.....and I don't think it's a bad thing to point out it was your idea.  I think the moment has passed for this particular situation, and it seems like it worked out well anyway.  Should something similar happen again, I would just be factual and non- accusatory and honest if you want to lay claim to what is your idea: "I am also doing my project on x and y aspects of A, B, C - don't you remember when I talked about that in class last Tuesday?"  And if it would make you feel less anxious, ask the professor how he would prefer you handle both of you doing the same project.

--- End quote ---

I would just blurt out, "that was my idea!" And I don't think that's rude.

Nor is, "Oh, that's the idea I mentioned earlier in class--I had planned to do it."

If you didn't have the reaction in the moment, I'd say you could get ahold of her later and say, "The other day you mentioned you were considering that topic. I wanted to remind you that I'd cleared it with the professor in class several months ago and I've already begun working on it. I hope that doesn't mess you up."

And maybe the BIGGEST lesson here, especially in such a situation, is to ask those sorts of questions later.  I'd find it hard to do, but I think it's one of the things I'd take away.


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