[Answer to this has been prepared based on Masters and Kreeger, 2017, Ten simple rules for developing a mentor-mentee expectations document, PloS Computational Biology,13(9): e1005709]
It varies from student to student, depending on their level of preparation, current position (intern vs PhD vs postdocs), funding, their long-term career plans, etc. Nevertheless, there are some common expectations for all students. You must discuss these or any other that you are not clear about:
Take ownership of your research project and research experience:
- Strive to become independent and productive academic/professional.
- Take initiatives to achieve the above goal. This requires that students are self-motivated and driven, with excitement and passion for conducting scientific research and to learn new science.
- Familiarise yourself with all formal requirements of your program/fellowship, etc.
- Read and keep up with scientific literature. Present papers in lab journal clubs.
- Develop all necessary soft-skills: scientific writing, how to read and critique papers, how to prepare good presentations, mentoring interns/ug students, etc.
- Do not expect that I will do your thesis work. My job is to mentor you. The amount of effort I put in on you/your work is directly proportional to how much effort you put in towards your own work as well as how much feedback you seek from me. So both the work you do and its regular communication to me is important.
- Scientific research involves very fascinating (& often challenging) curve of learning and research outcomes but remember that there are also many many many hours (and months) of boring tasks. Therefore, your initiative, perseverance and developing a perspective of what it is to do PhD are important.
Goals, meetings and punctuality:
- Set goals: short-term (1 day, 1 week), medium-term (1 – 3 months)and long-term goals (6 months – 1 year).
- Assess progress towards your goals. By yourself, by the adviser, by lab-members, thesis-committee members, etc.
- Present your progress in lab meetings at least twice a year, but preferably more.
- Seek regular meetings with me on progress towards each of these.
- Frequency of meetings varies a lot from student to student. Once a week is strongly recommended. Not every meeting need to be long; even 5-10 minute meetings are fine. If you haven’t met with goals, progress and plan for more than a month — do it now!
- Seek critical feedback on your progress from me – once in three months in the initial stages for a PhD student, later on, it can be more spread out. But do it at least once a year. You should also talk anyone else you deem fit — for example with your committee members. If you do not ask for critical feedback, no one will offer you.
- You are expected to attend all lab activities – most importantly weekly lab meetings. In addition, you are expected to attend department events like seminars, thesis presentations by other lab students, department symposium, etc.
- Respond to emails promptly, Many discussions of lab matters happen over email. So even when they are addressed to the entire lab,and not specifically to you, respond to emails promptly.
- Be prompt and punctual to meetings. Come prepared if you know what the meeting is going to be about.
- You are expected to participate in routine or non-research tasks as well. For example, these may range from taking turns to cleaning lab, organise seminars/symposium, volunteer in open day/outreach programs, doing lab presentations for visitors, formatting of lab documents, etc. Keep aside around 10-15% of your time for such service activities.
Enhance the workplace experience for yourself and others:
- You are an important member of the lab. Your academic performance and general behaviour have an impact not only on you but also on your peers and even your adviser. So try to make the best of your experience as well adding value to the lab by your presence.
- Treat all other lab members, junior or senior, with respect even when you disagree. Disagreements are common among lab members when discussions happen, but dissent, disagreements should not lead to personal conflicts and disrespecting other members.
- Be helpful and be kind to everyone around.
- Follow our lab/institutes policies on Academic integrity, IISc code of conduct, Sexual harassment, Workplace harassment, Field ethics, Field safety, etc. Be aware of various avenues for conflict resolution and complaints.
- Take note of leave policy and working hours. While it is flexible, in general, you are expected to be available during work-hours in the lab. Discuss if you prefer something else with me if they help your style and productivity.
- Take initiatives to make the lab fun and a better place for everyone.
- Take care of your health. Seek doctors/professionals’ help to improve your physical health and mental well-being. Talk to me if you need contacts.