One of the things that is deemed characteristicÂ for our group by ourÂ professor is the system of ‘half year reports’. These reportsÂ are written by PhD students and are a description of what has been done so far and what is planned for the months to come. After being sent around to the group on Thursday, the report is presented and discussed during the regular Monday morning meeting.
Last week it was my turn. I presented my second half year report, describing the work I have done the past 1,5 years. Like last time, starting to write the report was hard. At first it seemed like I hadÂ not achieved anythingÂ in the past couple of months and whatever I had done, was hard to connect and write up in one ‘flowing’ text.
Writing the report forced me to think about the bigger picture of my work. It forced me to get an overview of the work I have done so far and the work that I want to do in the future. Once I had finished the report, I felt better about all of this already. Simply taking the time to think helped in itself. With the usual naggingÂ fear of sending around something containingÂ mistakes I then sent it off to the rest of the group.
The following Monday I presented my work. Like always, I liked presenting my research and enjoyed answering the questions. Afterwards, it was time to discuss my report with the staff members. During this discussion the focus is mostly on the lesser parts of the research. This makes sense, because that is where I can improve, but it also resulted in a not all too satisfied feeling afterwards.
Good thing that I had a meeting with my two supervisors the followingÂ Friday. It had been a while since we had been together, becauseÂ theÂ professor had been on sabbatical for 4 months. After more than 1.5 hours of meeting time, I left my professor’s office feeling much better. I wasÂ back on track. We had decided on what was important and what was not and thought of some new experiments in the meanwhile.
It still feels like I have not made enough headway,Â but I guess I will just have to believe the response everyone always gives me when I tell them that: the first year is forÂ learning how to do research on your own, the second to get that research going, the third to get your results and the fourth to write it up. With that scheme in mind, I am still on track and ready to get those results sometime soon.