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博导的责任 The Care of Your Graduate Students

已有 4694 次阅读 2011-2-1 00:34 |系统分类:科研笔记| graduate, career

中国的研究生的生涯里似乎缺少了一件重要东西:论文委员会。在美国的很多学校里,每个PhD学生在博士资格考试时设立一个考试委员会,如果资格考通过,这个委员会就变成该生的论文委员会,大约每半年跟学生开一次会,直到答辩。论文委员会就像一只忧心忡忡的老母鸡,不让昏头昏脑的小鸡跑得太出界。

论文委员会在中国研究生生活里的缺失在我看来是件很糟糕的事,希望校长们和教授委员会们将之提上议事日程。没有论文委员会对学生的长期定时看护,导师对学生的责任显然就更重大了。我认为博导的责任大致在三方面:

1,至少每半年跟每个学生会面一次,专门讨论该生的学业进展。在总结学生半年来的研究成果时,明确地、毫不含糊地指出好的、不好的、差劲的表现。跟学生一起制定一个双方都能接受的下一个半年的目标。会议要有书面记录。

2,参加每周的实验室例会。每周常规的实验室例会至关重要。要求学生在会前做好家庭作业,会上简明扼要地讲解自己的实验目的、结果、对结果的解释。要求学生不光对自己的项目,也要对实验室其他成员的项目给予充分的关怀,积极参与讨论。

3,慷慨地奖励学生。学生的智力贡献要通过科研论文作者排名或专利申请人排名得到恰当的肯定。要让学生亲自到国内国际学术会议去报告他们自己的科研发现。在学生迈入事业的下一个位置时尽力帮助,至少要写一封合情合理的推荐信。


A recent commentary in Nature prompted me to write a small piece in my blog on The ScienceNet.cn to reflect on my thoughts on the responsibility of a graduate student in ensuring timely advances of his or her career.

 

In that piece I asked the students to 1) proactively arrange meetings with the boss; 2) write good quality reports with a note attached in the front to remind the boss the key issues in the report, and 3) raise questions but at the same time come up with solutions from the student’s perspective.

 

Someone then says: Hey, what about the responsibilities of the advisers? Now the following are what I had the good fortune to observe when I was a student myself:

 

1) Be a responsible adviser

 

Dedicate one meeting with each of the students at least once every six months. Give assessment on the student’s accomplishment thus far. Point out in unambiguous terms the good, the not so good, and the bad. Clearly outline the goals for the next six months.  Make sure someone is taking notes during the meeting.

 

2) Make every effort to attend the weekly lab meetings

 

The importance of a regular weekly lab meeting cannot be over-emphasized. Make sure that the students did their homework before coming to the meeting. Notebooks must be handy. Ask the students to speak succinctly on their own project, stating the purpose of the experiments, the findings, and the interpretations. Ask them to pay attention not only to their own projects but of the others, and actively take part in the discussion.

 

3)  Reward the students for their hard work

 

Reward the students generously.  Make sure their intellectual contributions are recognized by proper authorship in scholarly publications as well as in patent applications. Have them personally present their discoveries at national and international conferences. Help the students as they advance to the next stop in their career. Write a candid recommendation letter when asked.

 

Come to think about it, there is something missing in the Chinese systems of graduate studies. Every PhD student in the United States has a “Dissertation Committee” from the very beginning that meets with him or her every six months or so until dissertation defense. The committee behaves like a good old hen to make sure the often confused youngster not to go astray. 


The absence of a dissertation committee in the life of a Chinese graduate student is quite unfortunate in my opinion. The role of an adviser becomes all the more important under these circumstances.



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