I am a bit overcommited to my in-progress experiments right now and it is starting to affect the rest of my work. I had a feel-good article about my research due that didn't get the attention it needed (luckily the co-author is a GENIUS and it still turned out really, really well). I am worried that my conference presentation will suffer and am torn between running experiments or stopping and taking full days off of lab work to focus on my conference stuff.
It is hard to decide what to do because it would just be really, really, really great to finish my experiments during my time here this summer. I know I can come back next summer and work more but that shorter time frame introduces other variables and it just isn't ideal. I will happily come back to DO to do more experiments that are necessary to clarify the results I've already got but I don't want to continue the same experiments a year apart. Essentially, I am trying to do all the experiments (not including data collection and analysis) for my dissertation in 8 months (this is the length of time of my RA and time at DO).
I know, I know....
Have you stopped laughing yet?
It isn't THAT funny....
Ok, so when I told Advisor and V that I might not actually finish as planned because I added an extra treatment, they both laughed at me, having assumed I was never really serious about it in the first place. Of course, this makes me want to get it all done even more. Which might actually happen, with the help of some lab assistants. I am cashing in all my house/pet sitting favors and having people experiment-sit in return. Ha!
Anyways, it has got me thinking a lot about what types of expectations are placed upon us and by whom. Is it good or bad to have had these really high expectations of myself in the first place? My advisor isn't really clear on where he stands. He doesn't want me to be too hard on myself but also tells us all that to be competitive and get jobs, we should have 10 publications from our time in his lab. Sounds crazy, I know- but then 2 students actually got those 10 papers and Advisor had to adjust his ridiculous, unreachable goal to 10 pubs not including your dissertation research. Someone in the future will reach that one too I bet (not me though). I think he tries to use that as a tool so that we are always trying to achieve more in our research, get more out of our projects and stay focused on the endpoint of publications. But why is that tool useful for pubs but laughable when I use the same lofty, idealistic goal setting tool for my research? You just can't win. You need to motivate yourself to get your work done but not too much!
It always cracks me up to hear professors go on about their expectations for students. How their students should work 28 hour days because when THEY were a grad student, that is what THEY did. Unfortunately, these expectations are touted over beers at happy hour and never actually talked about, implemented or even made clear come Monday morning. I think as a professor I will have documents that clearly state my expectations of students including hours, research progress and timelines for graduating. With the nature of research you can't have hard and fast rules but some gentle guidelines for what I want out of my lab will be clearly put out there. My MS advisor did this and it was very informative. Especially in the early stages of figuring out what being a grad student is all about (free food and CuteOverload
In the meantime, I will keep plugging away at my experiments and pick a color scheme for the conference thing already. I'd love some feedback on this topic- who sets more ambitious goals for your work- you or your advisor/lab/program? When you set your own goals or deadlines, how reachable are they really?
Labels: research, work