Goals are dreams with deadlines.
– Diana Scharf Hunt
The last few days our research group has been literally perturbed by a deadline for abstract submission to a major scientific meeting. It happens a few times per year and almost every research group around the world live more or less the same level of excitement. Not only for the student trying to make sense of their data and get to present their work at key scientific meetings but also for the supervisor.
Human nature is such that these deadlines seems to bring a special purpose, an extra focus in putting together what seems to be a collection of, sometimes disjointed, results into a coherent story line.
It is a time of intense questioning: value of the data, missing data, needs for confirmation of data and the best way to present the data. Creating order of what seems like chaos. The discussion and questioning sometimes (often!) lead to new line of research (i.e. new research questions), designing extra simulation scenario or measurements (i.e. more work). It also act as a self re-centering moment of the student research and a clearer path forward toward graduation.
The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.
It is not that these actions are not taken during group meetings or one-on-one meeting with the students. But the magnitude of it seems increased by the deadlines. And abstract deadlines are not the only deadlines faced by students 😉