a journal of a researcher

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My student teaches me

I’ve heard many times from professors to thank their students in various occasions. Many consider their work can’t be done without students. When I was a student, I thought the professors are just too humble. Well, my students teach me now. Here is what I received about my role in supervising students:

“it is not your job to be the babysitter of immature students. Especially master students should know what they want and pursue their goal without you telling them or asking them. If someone wants to be a researcher, he will develop own ideas for research and do the research. If someone wants to go into industry, he will develop ideas for real-life projects and tackle them in your research group. Both will ask for guidance every once in a while.

But in essence, they will have to work independently and pursue their goals without a babysitter. If a student can't do that, may be he is not fit enough to be part of your (or any other) research team.

I think, there are pretty much two things you can do for your students,
1. Provide a challenging work environment (office space, computer, library access and may be funding)
2. Ask them every once in a while to tell you what they have done. (That helps a student to realize what he really did. And it helps to be clear about progress. Which means that a student stays focused and on track.)”

Good points here. I hope I can provide what my students ask me about the working environment. As a young scientist, I am still not powerful enough to get what my students ask for. Funding is connected to my publications, proposal writing and networking. It is not easier than running a company and making profit. Some researchers are like entrepreneur that they organize people on projects that they receive funding, then more research results attract further investment. Then they run it even bigger.


  • I did both my M.Sc. and Ph.D. without any funding from my supervisors. Students can find scholarship or get a job. So money is not the most important thing.

    However, as for the rest, I have to disagree. The scenario you describe makes all supervisors equal. Yet, in practice, the students from some professors do much better than the students from other professors. What give?

    You will be, eventually, evaluated for how well your students have done. This is what NSERC does. It is not true that if you are simply passive, your students will do well.

    By Blogger Daniel Lemire, at 6:13 AM  

  • You are definitely right. Students from some professors are doing better than the others. I do not know how it can happen. Maybe the right guidence on a certain topic. I am still learning what are the right topics my students can do. My poor students...

    By Blogger flydragon, at 11:47 AM  

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