This summer I have four (!) students doing a project with me as well as my PhD student starting on his project. I am very happy students already want to do projects with me. At UCT and Leiden, I gained some experience with student (summer) projects at various levels. Together with Matt Kenworthy, I started to formulate The Plan[tm] for a student project. These are the tricks and tips I have so far:
1. set up the data/papers/code/etc in a dropbox with the student's name.
2. set up an overleaf document wth all the writing and references on the project for the student to turn int a report. I use the MNRAS template for ease of use.
3. Set up a first meeting, draw the drop-dead date on the white board and work backwards from that. Have everyone say when they have a Thing.
4. Set up a regular (weekly) meeting at a set time. I take notes during these and I plan to put those into Evernote from now on to make them searcheable.
5. Make a separate email tab under the general student folder. Move all correspondence there.
This has many advantages. For starters, all the data/code will be in a central spot, backed up automatically. Secondly, I can check the last time the student has worked on his/her report/thesis. It allows me to rapidly convert the report into a paper manuscript without issue. There is built-in version control. All these things make supervision much easier.
The regular meeting can be big time/brain bandwidth commitment but I rather have that than that the student is stuck for longer than a few days.
I need to do this because as opposed to most professors (I'm a professor wheee!) I don't have a single topic with lots of little offshoots from the main research topic, I have lots of small projects and interests. Two students this summer will be working on overlapping galaxy pairs, one on the Milky Way from Brown Dwarf counts found in BoRG, one will be working on galaxy morphology, and one will be working on the "sustainable observatory' (power use for different observatories, when do alternative energy sources make sense?).
So lots of different stuff to keep tabs on. Hence the organization. It saves the student time and effort and gets them off to a flying start...hopefully.
Suggestions on student supervision, helping with projects, is all helpful. Please let me know!!
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