reaction!, and managerial style

Bart Janssen bjanssen at bio.tamu.edu
Wed Jan 24 10:53:54 EST 1996


In article <lab_sakano-2301961318340001 at lsa6mac33.berkeley.edu>,
lab_sakano at maillink.berkeley.edu (Linda Kingsbury) wrote:
 
> Another comment on the "how much discussion?" question.  It depends not
> only on the student's personality, but also on the point of time within
> the project, and the student's own strengths/weaknesses/interests.  For
> example, as a grad student I find discussion to be most helpful when
> beginning/planning a project:  which experiments have priority, what are
> the best controls, will we get a clear answer to the question, is this
> worth doing anyway, etc.  Of course, I can figure a lot of this out for
> myself, but some informal discussion helps get the juices flowing, so to
> speak.  On the other hand, halfway through a project, the only input a
> boss can give is, "Do you have the result yet?!" which is not at all
> helpful.  Although, I suppose if the boss is a good experimental
> troubleshooter willing to take a lot of time with the notebook, some
> contribution could be made.  Also, if the data are difficult to interpret,
> then some discussion could be helpful.  I guess what I'm saying is that
> discussion is helpful to me only when complex decisions have to be made,
> and not uniformly throughout the project.

In general I'd agree with the above BUT there is one tiny trap here and
that is sometimes the student doesn't realise there is a problem.  Simply
put there have been times where I haven't had the experience necessary to
realise that I was doing something wrong.  It's at those times that having
an attentive supervisor who really is aware of what you are doing "on the
bench" really pays off.  I was lucky in that my supervisor really was
aware of just what was going on at the bench and had a really good grasp
of the nuts and bolts of the experiments but I've seen situations where
the supervisor makes the general plans but doesn't have the input in the
details leaving an inexperienced student to flounder.  This latter
situation is IMO unecessary and wrong.

I guess the point is I'd much rather be little harrassed by the boss and
have a boss who was really in touch with the work.

cheers
Bart



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