gathering and the pursuit of the next paper. It was not sufficiently underpinned and driven by producing a creative problem-solving scientist. The technical demand was stressed rather than the intellectual.
Robert Bergman from the University of California, Berkeley, agreed that this is a critical point. Part of the problem is the pressure put not only on graduate students but on junior faculty to generate papers and earn tenure, as well as senior faculty to achieve other kinds of recognition.
Michael Rogers of NIGMS said that the institute is planning to strongly encourage, though not require, that graduate students and postdocs supported by NIGMS on either research grants or training grants have written individual development plans. He asked whether such encouragement or a requirement would be a good thing or would add too much to the workload of faculty members. Julie Aaron of DeSales University responded that the best approach would be for faculty members to sit with students informally and talk with them about where they want to go and how they plan to get there. “You don’t want it to be just more paperwork for everyone to do.”
She added that “in graduate school, we all had weeks where you got a lot accomplished and a week where you didn’t do a whole lot. It was easy to fly under the radar once in a while…. Students [need] to define their goals: ‘I want to present a paper or I want to go to a meeting this year so what do I need to get done by this date and how am I going to assess that.’ It is definitely good to encourage that without making it just more paperwork.”
Another prominent theme during the workshop was the need for students and their faculty advisors to have consistent expectations. For example, Peter Dorhout of Kansas State University said that differing expectations between students and faculty members were the single largest source of conflict at his institution. Communicating expectations from faculty to student and from student to faculty would go a long way toward improving the student and faculty experience in graduate education.
John Schwab, formerly from NIGMS, noted that most graduate trainees are supported through research dollars, which generally do not include expectations regarding the breadth and depth of the graduate experience.
One possibility discussed at the workshop is a manual for graduate students that would be available to all students and faculty members. Such a manual could outline how many hours of work are expected, when to come to advisors with a question, and how to report a mistake correctly.