The corresponding question for the science PIs: graduate student work hours.

From the last poll you probably guessed that this one was coming.

I'll be interested to see whether there's any correspondence between the hours demanded by PIs who read this blog and the hours demanded of graduate students who read this blog.

Once again, feel free to discuss the issue of appropriate student workload and/or humane management of graduate students in the comments.

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Interesting- I think my PI would say he doesn't require set hours. But when I asked him directly at the start of my first rotation, he said he likes his students to be in when most everyone else is, 9-5 M-F, and that he thinks it helps to work a half day on the weekend to catch up on things and get ready for the next week. So, no requirement, and the expectation is based on what it takes to be productive.

Most grad students only get paid a part time wage, therefore they should only work part time. Anything beyond this should be voluntary considering they are also taking classes.

I picked "No set amount of time...." However, I almost chose "Other," because Im unhappy with the "its not unreasonable" clause. Based on some of the comments on the previous related thread and above, I expect this is a moving target.

What I find odd is that lost in these ideas is the "education" component of graduate school. Getting a PhD is not the culmination of 10000 hours of work. There is significant training that occurs as well, simply practicing the art of science is training. In many fields graduate students pay for their degrees, they do not get paid with benefits. I wonder if this mentality is the fruition of our societal upbringing of this generation of students. I see it at the undergraduate level with students who expect a decent grade for simply showing up and because they paid there money.

Luckily my graduate students are/were outstanding individuals that are going to be strong research scientists. At least if they choose to stay in the field.

Two of my best grad students were 9-5ers. One had two kids at home and had no choice. The other had worked in industry before coming to grad school. The trick is that they were excellent at setting goals and organizing their time. (I wish I were as good).
What I would like to see more of is the passionate student, the one who will not leave until she/he gets the result. I think that increases in grad student salaries have led to students treating grad school more like a job. They are certainly worth the money and deserve it, but they are not as hungry, not as eager to get the data and the papers as when students were paid less.

I don't know what planet you are on Joe (#4), but I sure felt hungry for results and poor making $22K / year as a grad student in a pricey metropolitan area fairly recently. If I had been paid any less I would not have been able to pay my rent and eat.

The other extreme (#2) is equally misguided. Grad school is not a job. It's a time to become an expert in your field. You can't do that by erecting arbitrary barriers that rationalize you working "part-time" as a researcher.

I am a young PI, and I emphasize to my students that they work with me but for themselves. They have ambitious career goals and know what level of productivity those goals will require.

By Special Guest … (not verified) on 30 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jesse, do you mind if I ask if you are a graduate student or ever were one?
I regularly work 60 hours a week for my lab (cognitive neuroscience). When I have classes it might drop down to 40-50 plus a little less than 20 hours on courses.
My adviser never gave me a set hour expectation - but I am aware that I am here to become an expert in my field. I am competing with a lot of people doing the same thing as me. To be fair, I am unmarried and have no children. This is in part because my significant other and I decided we could live in different cities for as long as we need to.
This is exactly what I thought I was signing up for. Am I crazy? Am I the only grad student sitting at her computer programming on weekends?
(PS I would not have gone to grad school if I had children. For one, I make $15,000 in an expensive city.)