Monday, May 28, 2007

Committees, Joy Of

After the feedback-meeting fiasco, our program director engaged in a flurry of documentation and clarification. We have received three lengthy and detailed messages from her on What We Must Do. The second one lays out useful feedback! From committees! Things we want to know! That they never tell us! Fascinating things like:
  • When will I graduate?
  • Do I have a publishable story?
  • Should I switch projects?
  • What do I have to do before next year to remain in good standing?
  • Do you agree with my thesis outline? If not, why?
Then it delves into just-hit-me territory and tells them to rate us on:
  • Knowledge of the literature
  • Critical thinking
  • Demonstrating initiative
  • Motivation and work ethic
  • Technical competence
Great! And we're supposed to... what? Order a new work ethic from BioRad? Do a Western for them in the conference room? Go read their favorite paper from 1972, which has since been discredited, because we must Keep Up Standards? (By the way, the next time I hear someone say that here, I may be inspired to violence.)

I am a fifth-year. My committee is no longer responsible for my reading habits. And if I lack technical competence at this point... it's beyond help. Or at least: beyond their help. But more importantly, they do not see any of these things happening (with the possible exception of critical thinking). I am in a lab 300 days a year, and they see me one day a year.

I predict this will inspire post-meeting rage, despair, and reading of job ads.

I wrote this before my last committee meeting. Behold! I have oracular skills. It happened just as I predicted.

Why are all our committees run by monkeys?