research course mechanics

Research Course Mechanics

Throughout your time in the lab you will be expected to progress in both your personal career goals and in forwarding the goals of the lab. To make sure these mutual goals are being met in a timely way, we can employ a number of strategies including working hours, status reports, internal blog posts, advisor meetings, and lab meetings. Of course, this additional oversight is more explicit early on, and lessens as your experience, commitment, and independence are demonstrated.


Below is a list of expectations for members of the lab. Admittedly these expectations are overhead for more established researchers, but they are necessary until you’ve demonstrated enough experience, commitment, and independence. This is primarily based on establishing a record of accomplishment and trust. The numbers below reflect the proficiency level where this is required – see research proficiency levels below.

  • Weekly lab meeting time
    • Come to the set course time if you are taking independent study credit
    • We will also establish “research office hours” when everyone is available, and attendance is optional but encouraged.
  • Working hours (expect ~10 hrs/week on average)
    • fixed/required – only if there is a problem
    • expected – this can be helpful, and may be requested early on
    • flexible – the usual case if all is going well
  • Advisor meetings / status reports
    • meet/discuss multiple times per week – only at exciting or critical times
    • regular, weekly meetings – the usual case, at least initially
    • irregular meetings – over some time, this becomes the regular situation
    • only at the student’s request – when you’re a pro
  • Readings for discussion:
    • 3/week – during initial literature searches, often 1-2 are reviews and pick the most relevant original research article. May do this before a final publication push.
    • 1/week – may be the case to get a feel for the literature
  • Internal lab blog/status posts:
    • at least weekly – generally this should be easy. Can simply be “Working on X and Y this week”, but important to be specific to that week’s accomplishments.
    • monthly – if you’ve established yourself
  • Presentation: what are we aiming for?
    • Types: journal paper > conference talk > poster > in-lab/department presentation, generally
    • Keep in mind you may need significant follow-up effort to contribute outside of Loyola. Paper generally require a year-long commitment to follow up. Conferences aren’t for many months after submissions, etc
  • Evaluation:
    • For independent study students, you will get a grade every month of your course time as an explicit indicator of progress. Your final grade will be based on these accumulated grades.
    • For others: generally the above expectations will change depending on your progress, accomplishments, and independence, so your expected effort will also be clear.