Friday, June 18, 2010

Effective Ph.D supervision

I mentioned previously that my colleague Ben Powell went to a helpful workshop on supervising Ph.D students. Stimulated by this he sent an email to all his students and postdocs with the following requirements for future meetings.

1) At least 24 hours before the meeting you should send me an email.
It should contain:

- Your report on what you have done in since our last meeting
- An agenda for the meeting. This MUST include the following items
(but may include more)
- discussion of what you have done
- discussion of what you will do next
- one tangible observable that everyone at the meeting agrees you are going to do next
- Any upcoming deadlines (even if they are far away)
- Something you have (formally) written since the last meeting (perhaps a summary of a paper you read, a draft of a thesis chapter or paper, details of your latest calculations)

2) At the meeting we should take time for each of items on the agenda.

3) Within 6 hours of the end of the meeting you should send me another email. It should contain:

- A summary of the meeting
- What you tangible observable for the next week is
- A to do list (this should be copied, pasted and edited from your previous after-meeting report so that things don't get dropped off the list). At least near the top of the list, it should be in priority order.

Somewhat related issues concerning student-supervisor expectations are discussed in an old post I wrote.

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