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Research ethics survey

Annette C. Hollmann ah690549 at bcm.tmc.edu
Fri Feb 28 08:41:16 EST 1997

In article <3315B100.7D77 at nospamsalk.edu> forsburg at nospamsalk.edu writes:
>Julia wrote...
>> In the survey thus far, grad student assumptions range all over the
>> place, from the feeling that PIs demand too much by expecting more than
>> a 40 hour week to the one who believes that its his responsibility to
>> make the PI famous. 
>Interesting....from my point of view as a one-time student and current
>PI, all I can do is my best to give a student  opportunity. I
>don't owe him/her success, I can't promise that!  but I can do
>my damnedest to create opportunity.  It's up to the student to 
>put in the work, the time, and the effort to seize it, while I
>try to show them how.  If we're lucky, we'll both be famous! ;-)
>Frankly, 40 hours a week usually isnt enough to do that. But I don't
>work a 40 hour week either.  
>-- susan

I think the main point here is that the PI should not put undue pressure
on the student to work beyond his or her physical capabilities. Some
people may only be able to handle 40 hours a week due to medical problems 
or family responsibilities - and they should tailor their career
expectations accordingly. Others may be able to handle 100 hours a week
without ill effects. I'm a middle of the road type, and can put in an
average of 60 to 70 hours a week (and another 14 hours get added on for
the commute) . If I consistently put in more than
that, I get shorth-term memory blackouts and hallucinations due to sleep
deprivation. I get very annoyed if someone tries to force me to put in 90 
hours, especially when that someone only puts in 45 hours, doesn't work
very hard when he does work, and isn't even the PI. What really got me was
that another student worked 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday to Friday (half of
what I do) and she didn't catch hell but I did.

I don't think a PI should have the power to force a student to work more
hours than required by law because that can have the potential for abuse,
and it won't do the student any good. A 40 hour week is mandated by
federal law, and the PI cannot forcibly obtain any more. While it may be
necessary to work more for success, determining how many "bonus hours" to
work should be left up to the student.The PI should appreciate these bonus
hours, instead of acting like a bottomless pit and constantly demanding
more and more and more. Positive reinforcement (of really cool data) and
acting as a backup (helping the student tackle tough problems) are much
more effective than being a very demanding slave driver.


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