Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mixed meeting

Today I had a brief meeting with Herb in which we talked about two very important things: Sam's role in my dissertation, and my chapters. The first one went great, the second one? Not what I was hoping for.

For nearly two years, Sam and I have acknowledged among us that he is the one actually advising me. He's at a different institution, so he can't be my committee chair. He said he felt like he should officially be listed as a co-adviser, which prompted this post. At that time, he thought he should be the one to bring it up with Herb. Later, he said why don't I bring it up with Herb, and I said I thought you thought you should do it. Then for several months now, whenever he's seen Herb, he's said he didn't want to bring it up because Herb had so much else going on. So the conversation didn't happen.

Last week I asked Sam about it, because this should be resolved well before my defense. This time Sam was of the opinion again that I should be the one to ask Herb about Sam being listed a co-advisor. Cool. I could have done this ages ago.

With the go-ahead from Sam, today I finally brought it up with Herb. As I suspected, he doesn't care at all. He's not sure there's an official mechanism for co-advising, but he's fine to have Sam listed as co-advisor. Great! Resolved. Sam is my co-advisor.

The next important issue is about my dissertation chapters. You see, I have too many projects. Six. I have six dissertationable projects. Some people in my department have four chapters. Most have five. I proposed to Herb that my five chapters should be my five best projects and I save the other one for a rainy day. The problem is that Herb is of the opinion (which is well-supported by evidence from his students) that what isn't submitted or nearly ready to submit when you leave UBC will probably never see the light of day again. Therefore, he suggested that the 6th project be included as an appendix with the data and analysis of the data. Argh. That's basically going to amount to a crude 6th chapter. I didn't know how to argue otherwise.

I suppose we'll see what the rest of my committee thinks, but it sounds like I should dust off that 6th project and at least think about it before I get my committee together (I hope it's easier than last time).

Monday, October 22, 2012

So. many. projects.

After the frustration with the student I wasn't doing a very good job of supervising, Jon asked if I have a list of all of the projects I'm involved in. He suggested that I list everything and regularly review the status of each project. I thought about doing something more complicated than that at the beginning of the summer using some kind of goal tracking software, but I never found the right thing for me. So, now I've got an uncomplicated list of all of my projects and major sub-projects in Google Docs. This includes some outreach and side-projects (things that aren't part of my dissertation). Each week (or so), I look at each project and record the status (e.g. waiting for someone else, what I have to do, etc) and then I color code it based on whether or not it is something I need to be working on this week.

If you include job hunting as a project, I have 13 projects. Thirteen! Thankfully, two of them just finished since I first made the list. That brings it down to 11. Five more are waiting for other things to happen or are otherwise on the back burner. That means there's 6 projects that I need to do at least something for this week, even if it just means emailing someone else to ask what's up on their end.

Three of those 6 projects are dissertation chapters. I have to finish my dissertation.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Student help or DIY?

I'm in the awkward situation this fall of long-distance supervising/mentoring a student who is doing some work for me. I haven't met her in person, only via Skype. Sam connected us and is technically (but only technically) in charge, as he's the one giving the grade. Now she's emailing him because she's concerned about being able to finish everything this term, he doesn't really know what's going on (though he and I talked about it 2 weeks ago), and I am trying to figure out how to get the best outcome for her and for me.

I admit kind of messed up, because I wasn't checking her work as closely and as critically as I should have at the beginning (even after blogging about checking other students' work...ugh). This was exacerbated since I never see her in person. Basically she took a bunch of photos that are worthless, and they are going to have to be re-done (but probably not by her). On the one hand, I should have looked more closely, but on the other hand, she should be able to assess the quality of a photo, too. It turns out that her setup (which I of course have not seen in person) is less than adequate, so now things have been hung up while she waits for better equipment that I am having shipped to her. And now I might be sending her to buy more stuff at Target just so she can keep working since the other crap hasn't arrived from China.

Part of me feels like I should have never outsourced this project and just done it myself. On the other hand, it's relatively low priority and relatively low stakes, so I suppose it's better I re-learn this lesson now than later. I think this is the last time I'll try to long-distance supervise a project like this. I also need to make a mental note that I need to spend A. LOT. of my time (like, maybe all of it) closely training and supervising students at the beginning of a project.

(This reminds me that Psychgirl wrote a post about how she feels like it would be easier to do research herself because students take forever to pay off.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In press, almost accepted, and flat out rejected

I've got three manuscripts in various stages of publication right now. One is in press for real this time (I've seen the proofs and found a zillion little typos- very annoying). One is nearly accepted. Sam and I are working on the last revisions, after which it should be accepted. The other one... oh my.

The third one was first rejected without review in the spring, then we revised, aimed high, and resubmitted. We got the reviews back a few weeks ago and they were pretty dismal. They didn't even really give us much that we could improve. My sense is that it's now or never for this particular piece, and I'm not sure exactly where it belongs. My amazing coauthor, in a fit of impending maternity leave madness, turned it around in an afternoon and resubmitted to a different, somewhat obscure journal. So that's back in review. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In search of an old post

I have a vague recollection of reading a post a while back (2 years ago? 3 years?) about women in science putting the brakes on their careers for impending motherhood years in advance. I recall the advice being something like, "Go do your awesome science all-out, don't put the brakes on before you've even started, and it won't matter when you take maternity leave because your science will be so badass that they won't doubt your ability to keep it up." Obviously I'm paraphrasing here and I might have gotten part of the message wrong, but is this ringing a bell for anyone else? Was it a post by Isis? I've been searching her blog but I can't find what I'm looking for. Where did I read this???