Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Exclusive Focus"

The comic I meant to reference in response to my funding being shifted to a new project is apparently called "Bad News", which is why my archive searches for things like "funding" and the punchline were ineffective. Fortunately, journal articles are named in much more sensible ways. At least, I assume they are.

The day after my post about being given a new project for balance of funding purposes, PhD came out with a comic commentary on why thesis research never progresses as well as it seems it should. This seems to describe the current situation very well. I was going to spend the summer finishing a project, mentoring an undergrad, and writing my comps paper; now I've added a very long weekly meeting and an entire new set of background and design requirements. The old project and the undergrad have priority (i.e., I can't possibly pay any less attention than I already am), which means it is the comps writing that suffers. If it were really a matter of just reading the 119 papers (last count) and integrating them, it doesn't seem like it should take one month, let alone seven. But it's finding time to read those papers that's the hard part.

I'm on the verge of sectioning off days for each project. I've already added "read 2 journal articles for comps" to my daily checklist. It's juvenile, but it's the best way of motivating me to build my exercise habits and accomplish certain chores). Blocking off one or two afternoons to work on this new project (4 to 8 hours out of the 40 I'm being paid for...I'll just have to assume funding agencies know what they're getting when they agree to pay grad student salaries) may be the easiest way to make sure everything gets accomplished this summer than needs to be done before entering the (hopefully) next-to-last year.

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