Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Non Stop?

If you are in a research group that has regular meetings, do you meet throughout the summer (or, at least, for most of it) or does your groups suspend regular meetings in the summer?

There are different kinds of group meetings, of course. Some meetings involve a lot of logistical discussions -- e.g., in a lab setting in which it is critical to coordinate activities using shared facilities. Others involve presentation of research results by group members, and some also involve discussion of a published article of interest. Giving practice talks for upcoming conferences is also a good use of group meeting time.

The logistics-focused meetings may need to continue year-round, but what about the discuss-a-paper or present-your-research types of group meetings? Do you meet all summer, or take a break from weekly (or whatever) meetings?






32 comments:

Alex said...

In a teaching-oriented place, summer is the only time it's actually feasible to gather the whole research group for journal club. In the school year, I just meet with my students when they either have results or have hit road-blocks.

Kea said...

In my experience, group meetings at northern hemisphere places usually cease for the (northern) summer, but then (at least in my field) that is the big conference/research season and people are busy/away. In the south, this does not happen so much.

Anonymous said...

Our research group, subgroup, collaborative group, division and department all have various regularly scheduled meetings, and everything is suspended for the summer period (~8 weeks). Any logistics regarding equipment must be sorted out beforehand. This comes from the university administration: no mandatory activities for employees can be scheduled during the vacation period. Of course smaller groups of researchers can have informal meetings, but this is often difficult with one or more group members away.

Anonymous said...

no summer meetings. and virtually impossible to find a meeting time that everyone can attend during the fall semester. sigh. but weekly individual meetings with everyone.

a physicist said...

We meet year-round for both the present-your-research meetings and the discuss-a-paper meetings. We take 2-3 week breaks at the start and end of summer break and winter break.

Some students are only around in the summer, and I think it's important that they participate in these activities. Year-round is the way to go for me.

Anonymous said...

well, here in Spain we typically stop the group meetings for the whole summer (july to mid-september). Basically the whole country shuts down in August too...

Prof-like Substance said...

We still meet all summer, but I don't have people present their data to everyone in a formal way, but rather we all have a conversation about where everyone is at with their project. The lab hasn't grown to where it is unmanageable to give everyone 10-15 minutes and have others weigh in. People bring lab books in case there are data questions, but it typically is just a discussion. Every other week we still meet one-on-one and I go into a bit more depth with people there.

I find summer can get away from you if there isn't still a give and take on the data front. Between travel and the more disjunct schedule, it is good to have a time to touch base with people. Since several of my students TA and have to take some classes, a wasted summer would really set them back.

Willy said...

I'm a postdoc in a physics dept, and we have group meeting once a week, year round. If our adviser is out of town we reschedule for his return, so that some weeks we may have two group meetings (i.e. one Monday morning, one Friday morning). We also have a weekly journal club on a separate day (also year round) as long as there is a quorum of 3 group members available -- we maintain these even if our adviser is unavailable.

studyzone said...

Our lab is on the small size (fewer than 10), and we have weekly lab meetings through most of the year. Exceptions are made when a critical mass of members are away for meetings or vacation. So, we typically do not meet the week of Thanksgiving, the last two weeks of December, or a couple of weeks in July and August.

Allison said...

We meet year-round, but we don't meet if the PI is out of town, so it's sometimes a bit spotty. I think it's nice for summer students (we usually have at least one) to get a taste of journal club and research update style discussions.

akajb said...

We meet every week all year long. Breaks happen around Christmas (since the University is closed and people go away), and whenever our supervisor is out of town.

Some meetings are long (well over 2 hours) and others very short as everyone just recaps what they've been working on over the past week.

biogirl said...

We do regular meeting. Every two weeks with all of the lab and weekly regarding my research. The only breaks come when a significant portion of the lab is not in town. It would be hard not to have meeting in the summer, as it is one of our most productive time!

Lauren said...

I'm a PhD student in a very large microbiology lab. We continue weekly meetings throughout the summer. There are 4 groups that rotate presentations, so even if someone is on vacation, there are always at least a few people there to present. At least sometimes in the summer the meetings are shorter!

Andrea said...

Once kids are out of school, (which is later than colleges) we stop. So we have a few weeks of summer meetings and then break for summer.

Pharm Sci Grad said...

We alternate "journal club" and research presentations weekly and meet year round (excluding holidays).

To Love What is Mortal said...

Because we have a new cohort of undergrads joining the lab in the summer, we always have weekly lab meetings to read papers and discuss research to problem solve. The nice thing about summer lab meetings is that the treats are often better for some reason. (Whoever leads the discussion brings the treat...it's a good, clear system.)

dolce vita said...

In my group, we suspend meetings over the summer (thank goodness), but during the semester, meetings are Friday at 3 PM--obviously so everyone doesn't clear our early before the weekend. One person presents per week, either a paper or data. Undergrads are exempt from attending/presenting, which was a nice perk, until I switched over to being a masters student. Bit of a nasty shock to see my name on the presentation schedule-but everyone presents no more than 2x/semester.

Anonymous said...

I'm in ecology. Usually we suspend for the summer because a large proportion of participants are spending days out in the field collecting data. But this summer, almost everyone was around doing analyses, planning, etc., so we continued for the summer.

Anonymous said...

We meet all summer.

Anonymous said...

we continued to meet during the summer except last week of the summer and the first week of fall. It keeps some perspective and focus, although we kept schedule/presentation little easy.

GMP said...

This summer is different since I am on leave, but usually in my group summers are very active. The group is usually larger in the summer because of all the summer visitors and undergrad REU students and we have longer group meetings, with pizza and soda (on my personal nickel); food and science talk help new members feel like part of the group. Everyone presents their work as well as journal club articles, and we do dry runs for people presenting at conferences. We also have 1-on-1 meetings weekly as usual.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a grad student, and we take a break in the summer and go with a "more casual" group meeting - instead of an hour-long presentation by one person, it becomes either a journal club or <10 min presentations by multiple people on what's been done in the last 1-2 weeks (depending on how we feel that particular year). Since lots of the more senior people in the group travel a lot in the summer, it makes missing meetings less of a big deal. But, to be honest, I'm not sure why we don't just have the formal meetings in the summer - besides the occasional travel it's just like the rest of the year.

Anonymous said...

We typically break for most of the summer.

Anonymous said...

I usually have weekly meetings all summer, to reinforce that I expect everyone to keep working and accomplish a lot while not taking classes.

Anonymous said...

Our regular meetings continue through the summer, but with significantly more interruptions. Our lab is small, so if someone is gone, we'll usually cancel group meeting for that week.

Jonah said...

There are always new and interesting papers to read, older but important or useful things to learn, and always people in need of practicing to gain or maintain presentation skill. Besides, it's fun, especially when the group participates in trying to understand! Why stop?

Anonymous said...

I'm an associate prof. in a research-intensive university and not only I don't stop, but I have group meetings twice a week. One day we do the 'normal'-type meeting, and the other day we concentrate on learning deeply about a topic (usually a technique we use a lot, or something fundamental in our field that we don't have time to discuss in depth during the semester).
All my students are on RAs in the summer, so I expect them to do research full time.

Anonymous said...

Why do people in science use the term "journal club"? Why not some other term like "reading group"?

Anonymous said...

we have meetings year round, because we are always in need of more and more new results to sustain the grant cycle so never a moment to rest.

Anonymous said...

I've been at places that stop as well as continue meeting during the summer. I think it's great to have a July/August break where you finally have full days of research that are not interrupted by seminars and meetings (especially the latter easily take a 2-2.5 hr chunk of the day). I don't quite get how people think they need the meetings to emphasize/ensure that people 'keep doing research'. If that's not self-motivated then it's never going to work out for those people anyways. I guess if I ever were to have a lab full of summer students though, I might install a separate meeting to teach them the ins and outs of data presentation and discussion.

Anonymous said...

I am a graduate student, working in a lab, and the professor expects us to work harder over the summer because we don't have to take classes .

We do not suspend meetings, but we don't have them every week either.

The professor also likes to shedule meetings on Fridays, and they usually last from 3 or 4 pm till 6 (or later). That kind of sucks.

Also, since we don't have the meetings every week, we usually get an email late on Thursday or early on Friday that we have the meeting...

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Back when I had a bigger group, we continued having weekly meetings (a mix of research reports, practice talks for conferences, and journal club). For the last couple of years, we've discontinued summer meetings.

People call the meetings to present and discuss other people's works "journal clubs" because that has become the standard name for that style of meeting. A "reading group" sounds like something else entirely---in a "reading group" I would not expect anyone to be presenting the work, and I'd expect discussion to be more separated from the content (just analysis of the work, assuming that everyone was already familiar with it).