Sunday, September 24, 2017

How do you get people complete projects during the tenure push?

My last post about getting back to the bench and figuring out how much time a new investigator should take from teaching and admin work spurred a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of having the PI active in the lab. It made me think about motivating and inspiring people. I have been interested in motivation for a long time. When I was a PhD student a new PI came into our lab at 8:30pm and just point blank asked me and the postdoc laboring at our computers "Why are you still here? My people are all gone. How do I get them to stay?" We kind of looked at each other and shrugged "I don't know..." Our boss had been gone for hours to go home to her family, and whether she was there at all didn't make any difference on our hours. We just needed to get work done. That started me thinking about why people commit to a project. Mind, the point here is not the number of hours you spend on it which can vary depending on family and other obligations, but the desire to get results and complete your work. How do you get lab members that are engaged, detail oriented and passionate about their science? You hire this type of person, you'll say. Sure, but you also have to keep them motivated...

When I started the blog 5 years ago (😱) some of my very first posts were about motivation, and I still need to remind myself of that advice from time to time. In one of my first posts I posted about a great book, Drive, by Daniel Pink who discusses behavioral research suggesting that once certain basic salary requirements are met people are motivated by Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. They need to work independently and develop their own ideas. They need to feel that they have mastered complex theories and techniques. They need to have a good reason for why they are doing what they are doing.

This all sounds great! This is exactly what motivates me. But everyone moving at their own speed or following their own ideas could work for a large well-funded lab but may not be the best way to get a small research lab to finish the papers and projects we need to survive the tenure-track. I have already assigned lab peeps to specific priorities, but some of my mentors want me to pull people off their own projects to help on finishing other people's things. I'm debating whether that would help or hurt our progress. Will I be disrupting lab dynamics and upsetting egos? And what about their own projects? This doesn't really promote autonomy or mastery...

It makes me think of the people who run a "tight ship". One of my past mentors forbade students to leave before 6pm and did random checks on Saturday to make sure everyone was at work. A lot got done, but I hated working that way, and this attitude is so distant from my personality, I would feel horrible imposing similar rules. But what is right? As I drive myself insane about the tenure push, I am torn about protecting my lab at all costs from my internal emotional turmoil... and again I am debating whether this is the best strategy. Will a false sense of security prevent my lab peeps from understanding that it's make or break time? That doom could be impending that we are all in this rowboat together. Everyone was warned very clearly of what joining a new investigator's laboratory entailed, of my timeline, and the pros and cons of coming in as tenure approached. But I feel that they really have no idea...and how could they?

I think I need to better express my sense of urgency, keep stricter deadlines, and shift priorities if necessary...and of course get back in the lab! Maybe the camaraderie of working through this together is that is really needed. In the meantime, this handy productivity guide from the Harvard Business Review may also help!

Photo credit: By PeterJBellis from England (White Water Rafting (on The Nile) - Wikimedia Commons

33 comments:

  1. And what if you explain the situation to the people in your lab and give them a say in what project they work on? I would be very motivated by the thought of helping my PI get tenure (at least if that weren't entirely opposite of what would be beneficial for my project/career) and by the idea of being in the same boat together.

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    1. Thanks for this insight. This would be a good way of framing it. I had a conversation with them about this, but just asked different people if they could help with specific things. Making a list of data that we need and asking people to pitch in is a great idea!

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    2. Meh, I give them a lot of say, and I've noticed a frustrating pattern. A few months after starting, they begin thinking everyone else's project looks better than theirs. And so they start dragging their feet, and as a tenure-track prof, I have to do the dirty work for them while simultaneously de-prioritizing the work that actually needs to get done. I regret giving most of my trainees so much flexibility.

      They often have horrible taste in projects too, but it makes for lively discussions about whether hypothetical results would be derivative/incremental or not. Better to have them early than at review.

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    3. I also think a conversation is the right way to go on that specific question. It's extremely important that the "conversation" not be a directive from the boss. Only transfer people to the project if they are actually passionate about helping.

      I say this from experience. I switched labs 2.5 years into grad school. There were many issues, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the PI announcing that everyone was to work on his pet project until it got published. It had already been rejected 5 or 6 times and I didn't believe in the project. I announced that I was switching labs the next day. Had a great 3.5 final years in grad school, working on a project that I cared about. I got 4 first-author publications (2 data, 1 review, 1 protocol) plus a mid-author publication. People who stayed behind in my first lab lost motivation and either didn't publish their own work, or got a single paper out.

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  2. A few thoughts. Right now in my lab I have a number of DOD/industry grants (i.e., not cushy NSF ones), and there's always a report to write or program review to attend. For the industry work, we have quarterly updates, and time flies. So, these external deadlines help keep up the general sense of urgency for all involved. Are there external deadlines for any of your projects beyond a general need to get things out the door toward tenure? The students themselves play a big role. It may be stereotypical (however, it is fact in my group at this time), but the international students in my lab work much longer hours than the americans -- they just feel that intrinsic need to be productive. I think group culture helps (all in this together). I think I project this to some extent as a leader, but I admittedly am not working the hours that I could be. I do leave at 5:00 most days, and I do have hobbies & a family & generally try to not kill myself if I can avoid it. I don't feel that bad about having higher expectations of them (in terms of time at work) than I do of myself because (and I don't know if this is a terrible attitude) I DID put in my time during grad school and did work well into the night and through the weekends many, many times. Some people may think the culture of grad school is a bad one, but -- when I did my own PhD -- I actually found intrinsic motivation to work my butt off because I realized I simply *could not* get what I wanted out of the experience without going above and beyond. There simply is not enough time when working 40 h/week to do the lab work, do whatever else you need (classes, TA'ing, etc.), AND master the material/become a true expert in the field/write a 300 page dissertation. You need to pour yourself into it, and I think for a brief time in your life, that's okay. Some people sustain this attitude throughout their careers, and I chose not to. I still work hard and am serious about my work, but not to the point of sacrificing everything else. Anyway -- digression -- I think the last option would be to become better at project management (assuming you are not already running your group this way). Lay out out projects with schedules and timelines and goals and deliverables. Identify tasks and bottlenecks. Go through these regularly with students (ideally together) so that they feel more urgency to meet the goals that were lined out. In my experience, things always take longer/go wrong, but you can get a lot more productivity by doing this than by simply showing up at a group meeting and asking "show me your results from the week."

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    1. Good for you that you put in those hours as a grad student. So did I, and I still do. But please remember that was *YOUR CHOICE.* You have no right to expect it of your students now. Perhaps some do not have the flexibility in their schedules to pull this off? Whatever -- the reason is not important. Your students are entitled to have a life and work reasonable hours, just like you do. So sorry the Americans are not as amenable to being exploited as you'd like!

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    2. Anon2 - I don't expect it of my students. Or rather - I don't enforce it of my students. I mean, I encourage them to work hard and put in the time, and it's something I respect. However, I also completely encourage work-life balance. I have a range of students with a range of work habits, and as long as they are putting in a base expected effort (and not goofing off, are reliable, etc.), I am fine with that. So maybe when I say "expectations," it's the wrong word. It's something I want to see, and something I encourage (with some degree of balance, of course), but it's not something I insist on or enforce. I am a softie and (I think) my students love me. I think my point is more that I don't feel like it's entirely a double-standard if they are working longer hours than me because we are at different phases in life. Another big difference is family. If someone has a family, I totally get that they simply have to devote x amount of time to that part of their life. It's a lot easier to throw yourself into work/study when it's just you that you have to worry about. I have three kids. I have a husband who also works. I just don't have the mental fortitude or stamina at this age to kill myself working super long hours on top of being responsible for my family and everything that comes with that. I extend the same understanding to any students with families (not very many). And don't give me that B.S. about exploitation. A PhD is a degree. The highest degree you can attain. It is a test. It is one of the greatest challenges you will face in your life. It is about becoming the WORLD EXPERT on a subject. You cannot excel at (or potentially even complete) a PhD without--to some extent--throwing yourself into it. Some people, who are super organized, productive, and maybe to some extent lucky, can do fine and get a PhD with a quasi-normal schedule. But many cannot. It's not a job. You can't expect to come to work for 40 h/week and be granted a PhD. Do law students and med students work 40 h/week? No. Because to learn everything you need to learn in such a short period of time, you have to go above and beyond. That is just how it needs to be. Mastery takes time and devotion. It is not about exploitation. Can somebody get a degree in 40 h/week? Maybe. Will they have gotten out of it what they should have? Unlikely. As for the Americans - sure, they can do whatever the hell they want. I respect that choice. And they will get out of their degree what they put in. And some of my international students will have mastered their subject and have truly produced something that makes a different. Of course, I can't speak in terms of generalities here, because there's definitely a range of work ethics when it comes to "Americans," (ranging from very little to a lot) but certainly on average, international students work much harder. Maybe it's not about exploitation, maybe it's because they worked their ass off to get here, really CARE about what they are working on, and appreciate how fortunate they are to have this opportunity. Many of the Americans are here because they "don't know what else to do." Can you tell I don't appreciate your snarky comment?

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    3. I'm too busy to get into a pissing match with you, so I will limit my reply to 2 points:

      1) Many tenured profs worked crazy hours to get tenure. Should they look down your nose at you because you are no longer willing to "throw yourself into" your job? Maybe you don't "appreciate how fortunate [you] are to have this opportunity"?

      2) You seem to have quite a few double standards going in your lab. You want students to work longer hours than you during *your push for tenure.* You think it's OK if they don't if they have a family to look after. Do you also think that students with a family should get larger stipends so that they can better provide for their families? Let's not forget how many "reasonable" people thought that was a perfectly valid reason for paying women less.

      Perhaps you should take some time to reflect on how intolerant and judgmental you are of people that make different life choices from you, or whose priorities don't seem to align with yours. I sincerely doubt that your students are oblivious to all of this

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    4. Guys, guys, there is no reason to start throwing adjectives around at each other. I think we're hitting a very critical point. How do we walk the line of essentially running a small business in a bad economic climate? In an ideal world universities would pay our salaries, some staff salaries and basic supplies, but those days are over, so we are pushed to support ourselves, everyone in the lab and their work. This pushes us to make difficult decisions. I would love to pay all people working for me lots of money and have them work 40hrs/week...but guess what? I don't have a single friend in banking or consulting or law that does that! Academic science has flexible hours, but also is a high pressure job requiring continuous productivity. As a boss I want to be flexible, but when the deadlines come, they come...for me as much as for the people who work for me. Same in any other high pressure unstable work-place. If you work for a tenure-track PI, you are essentially working for a start-up...it could blow up or it could go belly up. I made it clear to everyone when they interviewed and I make it clear again and again. I discuss budgets and where everyone's salary is coming from. If they cannot produce the data to support their own projects, the funding may stop flowing...any hiccup could be fatal at this point...

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    5. Thank you for creating a forum for issues that we all deal with one way or another, reading the blog and all the discussion has been super helpful as a somewhat new PI quick question on this comment: ......"I discuss budgets and where everyone's salary is coming from. If they cannot produce the data to support their own projects, the funding may stop flowing...any hiccup could be fatal at this point..."........ I have been trying to figure out how to say this to my lab folks without freaking my people out lets say grant 1 is ending in 1 year do you give them quarterly reminders or how do you do it?

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    6. I think you just treat them like stakeholders in the whole operation (which they are). I am in the lab meeting rotation and periodically I just do a "State of the lab" meeting where I go through all that information. The trick is to not sound frazzled, but basically outline plans very reasonably and clearly...thought I don't know now whether that gives them a fake sense of security, while I'm freaking out internally ;)

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    7. thank you for your reply :) I guess that is the problem the internally freaking out and trying to protect them from it! the life of the PI

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  3. Another thing - and this might depends on the nature of your group - but we do a lot of collaborative work (within the group) - and because we don't have lab technicians, the students are responsible for a lot of things. They are always fixing equipment, and working together to problem solve one thing or another. One thing we started using was "Asana". This was actually recommended by my techie student. It's basically a task list (or at least, this is how we use it), but I've found that having this task list online that I can access, and all of the students can access, has helped students tremendously in staying on task and feeling more ownership over the tasks that they had planned to do. In the past, I usually tried to make my own lists of what needed to be done, and expected that the students did the same, but it was not the same. This way we can input all the tasks whenever we meet (run experiment A, purchase materials for experiment B, troubleshoot equipment C, get in touch with collaborator D, etc.) and the students will refer back to it throughout the week and realize "hey, I really need to figure out how to get all of this done". Honestly, I'm surprised at how much of a difference it made because it's really just an electronic version of what people *should* be doing already. But it's public and it's real and I guess it really does help accountability. And -- if you have a lot of shared tasks -- it helps a lot with this as well since you can assign multiple students to the same task and they can see how things are interrelated, etc.

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    1. Hey there, thank you for your comments. I actually went through the certification manual for project management to do exactly what you say ;) I yet have to master it, but maybe I should write a post on it. I had a post on Asana a while ago. I really like it, but my lab has resisted it, as they have resisted Slack. I just end up doing good old fashioned meetings with followup emails with experiments and deadlines, and that's okay, but it would be better to have a stronger connection. The one thing they don't do is fix stuff, and I may have to get them involved in that because every time something breaks I'm the one who has to figure out how to fix it! :)

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    2. Haha, the funny thing is that *I* was the one that resisted Slack. I joked about it too - that I was that old, crotchety professor who still uses my flip phone (I'm not old, and I don't have a flip phone). I just didn't *get* it. Why would I use Slack when I could just e-mail? I didn't want to have pieces of information lost in some messaging system? You can have informal conversations over e-mail too - why not? I don't want to be "IM'd" on my phone through this OTHER app. But then I finally used it (after the students started using it on their own) and now I kinda get it and everyone uses it a bunch. Even if I would be perfectly okay using e-mail, the students are definitely way more interactive on slack. Nobody would ever say "hey, I can't find the wrench" in an e-mail to everyone, but they will post it on Slack. And I can be a little more informal as well :).

      At the end of the day though, my philosophy is all about "buy in." I don't enforce any "systems" on my students (well, mostly I don't) unless they see the value in them and agree to them. So it's always a "I have this idea, what do you think?" or "I really think we need to do this for this reason? If you disagree, why?" So, if the students don't buy it, then you definitely shouldn't force it. But maybe at a later time with a different group, it'll catch on.

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    3. Also, I have far from mastered project management (or being a leader). It's not even the concept or the implementation - often, it's literally making the time to do it and keep on top of it. But at the end of the day I keep reminding myself that something is better than nothing, and even if we've fallen off the deep end, we can get back on. And it does help, even if I'd like to do much better.

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  4. This is timely. I am around the same stage as you and really dejected about running a lab--I overestimated my trainees' capabilities and my own capacity to mentor them, and I feel pulled so thin. I am worried I don't have the capacity to be my own best postdoc while I try to keep others' projects moving. Plus, as an introvert, I find it draining to meet with people so often while managing just the right tone with everyone... "radical candor" + encouragement. I am not feeling encouraged most days.

    We've been using Asana for several years. It's a wonderful project management system if you actually use it. Getting my trainees to use it reliably has been a giant pain in the butt. Heck, getting them to stop leaving dirty dishes in the sink has been a pain in the butt. I'm at a top program but worry there's still some culture of underperformance in grad school (or my lab?) that makes trainees think that following protocols is optional.

    I hope I will snap out of this after another good night of sleep.

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    1. Hey Swiss Chard, I hear you! One thing I'm still struggling with is just being the boss and pushing people to get things done no matter what. I try to set very clear expectations (when possible in writing) and right now run a tight ship. As far as the tone, I was reading this article this morning which may be helpful. https://hbr.org/2017/07/how-to-become-a-more-well-rounded-leader

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    2. Intriguing article. I am unsure where I am on the spectra of most of those traits!

      It's funny how unclear "clear expectations" seem to be! I'm starting to insist people update Asana projects during our weekly meetings, instead of forgetting to later and asking me to repeat myself. It is so weird to me that all these wannabe-PIs don't see the importance of clear goals and follow-through. I should probably expose them to more of the regular progress reports I have to write--although reminding one of my trainees of such reports (which I had to write very frequently for one high-maintenance grant) caused him nearly to implode from stress. I let him switch to a project that has no pressure from outside the lab, but his productivity is not improved.

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  5. This may sound vain, but I think to some extent we got to where we are because we had a higher intrinsic motivation than others (of course, there are a looooot of other factors to consider, but still, motivation is important). And my feeling is that we just cannot expect that from everyone. Many people may simply not be as motivated (for a multitude of reasons). And if this intrinsic drive is not there it is difficult to instill...

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  6. A lot of interesting discussion here on a range of topics.
    One of the distinctions of academic lab work is that its results-oriented versus vs time-oriented. Of course you need to put the time in to get the results, but there usually (depends on lab) aren't set 9-5 working hours. But I've noticed that while we tell ourselves that one of the perks of academia is flexible hours and 'only caring about the results', that's not actually true. People look at results AND hours. Someone who is highly efficient and brings the defined results working say till 2 PM and then going home will still be appraised as 'not a hard worker'. The optics of it still matters. Same thing at the PI level. It's a badge of honor to be busy, to have your office light on late into the night, to be there on the weekend. Now of course, the reality is that the actual work really requires that level of input at times, but a large part of it is also perception.

    So, back to how to work with your personnel. I think the idea of a truly results-oriented management strategy could be optimal for academic science.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/11/this-is-what-real-work-flexibility-looks-like/425823/

    Every week, define with your personnel exactly what work needs to get done. If that's experiment A, B and C, negotiate that and define the outcomes. Because it's science, I wouldn't define the outcome as a particular result (e.g. only a positive result that supports your story) but as a valid attempt on a particular question. This way, it's crystal clear to everyone what needs to happen.

    If your student decides she wants to grind out A, B and C in 3 days (say, working 14 hours a day), and then take off 4 days, that's great. Alternatively, someone else else might want to spread it out over 6 days, working 7 hours a day. In the end, the work is well defined, and people have that clarifying purpose. Without well-defined actions, there is this need to just be present in the lab to show face.
    But with a ROWE, there is no judgment, no need to force people to be in the lab at certain times. It's about the outcomes.

    Just a thought. it wont' work for all situations, but I think it would help diverse personnel do quality work and also enjoy their lives. It'd get rid of so much of the passive aggressive interactions and misaligned expectations that does so much damage to mentor-trainee relationships.

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    1. And I forgot to mention the payoff. Your people will be much happier I think. That's a huge benefit and distinction to organize their work in that way. Because they have the autonomy, they will be more intrinsically motivated. Because you negotiate the work and discuss the results in advance, there is purpose. Also, as a PI, it gives you objective metrics to use to assess your trainees, rather than nebulous moving goal posts. It can also help you plan at the work that needs to get done.

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    2. Yes! I completely agree. I've been writing about ROWEs for a long time and that's how I set up my lab.

      https://thenewpi.blogspot.com/2012/12/new-years-resolutions-develop-autonomy.html

      The problem is that it doesn't work for everyone, because if people are not internally motivated to accomplish things or encounter an experimental hurdle deadlines come and go. I think approaches have to be tailored to different people to make sure work gets done.

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    3. Cool! I'd love to hear a follow up about the specific challenges you encountered with ROWE. And also, did your people take advantage of the benefits of ROWE. For example, if their work was completed early, did they then just fill that free time with more work, or did they take it for themselves? Were they measurably more satisfied? Did they take more control of the work?

      I understand that the best laid plans quickly fall apart once the actual work happens. SO there needs to be room for adjustment. As long as you're all communicating about it...

      Re: motivation

      You could use extrinsic motivators. I know that is suboptimal, but if you need things at specific times, maybe you could use some kind of carrot? A day off? There probably isn't much you can offer that they would want besides time or money.

      Do your people come up with their own ideas for projects or do you assign things? Ownership of one's work is a big factor in motivation I think.

      Truth is, the biggest factor in having motivated people is selection of the people on the front end. It's just difficult to predict, and also people change over time.

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    4. I think ROWE (papers, grants) is obvious to most in academia. In my experience, grad students are the only ones who think working hard per se matters. Paradoxically, it often does for them initially because the quality of their output can be poor. I can reassure myself (for a while) that at least they're trying and learning if I know they're at least working hard. That's relevant for a few months. They can sometimes be slow to grasp that at the end of the day, funders and readers don't give a crap about passion or effort, and they can be shocked to see me fire/fail to renew contracts for good-natured and charismatic colleagues who fail to produce good work in a timely way. I do wish it were easier to fire grad students (ideally, a PhD would be an incidental award for ambitious, independent, and creative research assistants) and that they always had "real" work experience before starting.

      The idea that faculty are pressured to appear always busy doesn't match my experience. The "real" superstars are, of course, the ones who make it look easy. On the tenure track, however, it often pays to look like you're working hard as a sign of humility--though I'd say most of us are working our butts off because we truly don't know if we'll make it. But the gloves are off pretty early in academia, especially with increasing reliance on algorithms to determine professional standing.

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  7. I think you are right in that the question of how to make that final push pre-tenure is related to how much you can work at the bench yourself. I gave my trainees a lot of flexibility and protected their ability to work on their own projects but I also ended up doing some of the critical experiments myself so that I could get the grants and pubs I needed. Fortunately, at the time I also had two technicians who were instrumental in doing much of the preparatory work for the critical projects.

    Now that I am post-tenure, I am quite happy that I can give my students a bit more freedom to explore. I do, however, use grant progress report deadlines as an external check on what needs to be accomplished, as was suggested by one of the posters above.

    Aside from that, I like the approach that one of my mentors had, which was pairing up two trainees to work on two projects. Each of them served as the lead on one of the projects. This way the were bouncing ideas off of each other and also could count on having at least a second-author paper from the secondary project if their main project was not going well.

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  8. @The new PI: “I think we're hitting a very critical point. How do we walk the line of essentially running a small business in a bad economic climate?”

    You are *not* running a small business and your students are *not* employees. Your students make nowhere near what your friends in banking, law, or consulting make – do you think they work those hours out of the goodness of their hearts? And unlike people who work for a start-up, your students will not reap any benefits when you get tenure. Will you pay them more, will their standing in the field rise? No, it will be seen as your achievement, period.

    I hear TT profs all the time excusing conduct they shouldn’t with their students (e.g., writing their papers for them) by saying, “well, if I don’t get tenure, that’s bad for everyone.” The truth is that it’s bad for YOU. Your students will, in all likelihood, survive you not getting tenure. (Students survive much worse all the time.) So you are not all in the same boat, and maybe there are students who’ve taken off the rose-colored glasses and who see that.

    That said, here are some attitudes to avoid if you want to maintain any sense of team spirit in your group:

    - If you leave every day at 5, don’t expect those that work for you to stay late.

    - Don’t judge people’s reasons for not staying late; e.g., leaving to pick up your kid is OK; leaving for a basketball game is frivolous and wrong.

    - Don’t profess to be all about ROWE and then secretly judge people by how many hours they put in. You know what’s worse than a boss who tells you that they expect you to be in the lab XX hrs/week (where XX>40)? One that says that they don’t care about hours but who really does.

    If you want to motivate people to work harder, perhaps you should start by admitting to them that they are working harder to help YOU achieve YOUR goal of getting tenure. Then try offering them something that will really matter to THEM. Maybe for some that’s more time off, perhaps for others it’s going to an extra conference or two. Maybe you can nominate some for awards. In short, try being very honest with them about the situation – who knows, perhaps this level of honesty from a prof alone will motivate them to help you.

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    1. Hi Anon2, there is no reason to judge and give commandments when you don't know what the situation is really like. None of the things you seem to be accusing me about are happening in my lab. I'm not even going to argue on what I'm offering them (a job, training and support to move to the next stage of their career).
      On the other hand, my students are employees because my school has no position designed for students, they are given benefits like everyone else, and they have to undergo an annual performance review mandated by HR according to a set of criteria like everyone else in my group. Am I happy with this? No, I think it's insane...but this again brings us to the issue of the corporatization of academia and medical schools, in particular. I had to attend seminars and trainings on how to run the lab according to good business practices and we are all requested to align ourselves to the strategic vision. In some places, your indirect costs dictate how much square footage you are allotted for the lab...this would be an interesting next post.

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    2. "You are *not* running a small business and your students are *not* employees."

      That is basically how it works, actually, except the students have way more protections than traditional employees. In theory, the students can waste taxpayer money through poor performance over several years and leave me (as PI) to suffer the professional and legal consequences. In other businesses, they would be fired.

      "And unlike people who work for a start-up, your students will not reap any benefits when you get tenure."

      I'm at a top R1 and all of my students tell me up and down they want to be PIs someday. My getting tenure is extremely important for their success.

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    3. I finished grad school ten years ago and am still asking my mentor for letters of recommendation on a regulary basis. His position as tenured full professor carries more weight for academic grants/awards than if he were now a science writer or in an industry lab. Academics are constantly judged on their training pedigrees, whether that's the way it should be or not. So helping to make your PI successful/famous certainly DOES have its advantages. The other thing to remember is that the student's research progress/publications/fellowships benefit her just as much, if not more so, than the PI.

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  9. @Anon2, I think students will suffer if their PI did not get tenure: they will face additional uncertainty on the path that already has a lot of unknowns to begin with. And they will benefit if their work were instrumental in getting thesis advisor tenure and recognition in field: they will feel a sense of accomplishment and get a strong letter of recommendation.

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  10. I have a lab document delineating expectations, but I didn't write it until after a decade into being a PI. Basically, the PI needs to make peace with what is adequate productivity as well as times put it. Through the document I say "Grad school is compatible with personal life, but you have to be efficient at work." I don't require more than 40 hrs/wk from students, but the good ones put more in. I have a number of required papers for graduation; when they hit that number, they are free to leave, although they often have more as a result of intragroup collaborations.

    IME, most students are happy to help during crunch-time with whatever needs doing. Not all, mind you, but most are. So I say I need this, it would be great if you helped, and many will. Those who won't I don't bother, but the truth is that someone who is selfish with their time at the time of need is also not the best intragroup collaborator in general, so this is not without long-term consequences.

    I imagine most of your folks will offer to help if you tell them what you need, why, for how long, and that you will appreciate it. Good luck!

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  11. I am certain there are many ways to do so, but having the right erp software sure does help. But which one to choose? I went for microsoft dynamics ax and I believe it was the best choice I could make for my company. Really!

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