Earlier this semester, a few senior graduate students started to organize a research working group in order to provide a space to informally discuss research progress, get experience talking to people not directly in their research areas about their work, troubleshoot programming issues, and support one another to make weekly progress. As the semester developed, the focus of the group tended towards research accountability. Group members recorded long term goals related to professional milestones; for many members this was related to dates by which they would like to pass candidacy, defend their dissertation, finish projects or have work submitted to a journal. Members also chose a process-oriented method to track their weekly progress not tied to their goals like the amount of time spent working on research, the number of intervals of a specific time worked, etc. The choice to track progress by focusing on the process of getting work done is based on the principle that it leads to an easier way to measure success and get self-motivated rather than focusing on long-term goals which can lead to procrastination or feeling overwhelmed. Week to week, the students in the working group discuss how successful their previous week was, discuss any particularly good or bad things that happened throughout the week, and reflect on their progress towards their goal.
As the semester comes to an end, the final meeting of the year will be held on December 5th from 11 am – 12 pm in 212 Cockins Hall. We would like to invite anyone interested in participating in the group to join us for the meeting and enjoy some donuts from Buckeye Donuts. While the group originated to talk about research, the success framework followed by the group is flexible and could be applied to any goal. All students in the department are encouraged to come and participate.
Please see below for thoughts about the group from some of the members.
Vincent Geels (4th year PhD Statistics):
Having this regular meeting has been a great way to see how others manage their time and workload from week to week. I’ve been able to take away valuable ideas after each meeting that have helped me improve my productivity and strike a better balance between work and life. Finally, the social component of these meetings has been a welcome bonus as I transition out of coursework with fellow students to the research-focused phase of my PhD trajectory.
Akira Horiguchi (5th year PhD Statistics):
Once you stop taking classes and start your research full-time, it’s easy to silo yourself and get stuck in the same productivity loop. These meetings help me figure out concrete steps toward becoming a more productive researcher, which I can take with me once I’m out of graduate school and am truly on my own.
Nate Onnen (5th year PhD Statistics):
One of the best things about the working group for me was realizing that I was not alone. A lot of the time when you get into your personal research, it is so easy to think that you are the only person struggling. By hearing others talk about their research, you learn that it is just a messy process in general, and that we’re all going through the same stuff.