Dr. Abhishek Dutta

PhD Research Activity Level

PhD Year 1 Activity (Last Updated: 29 Jul 2011)

Caution: This plot is just for fun and should not be taken seriously. I did it when I got bored with my research one weekend :D

I have meeting with my supervisors after every two weeks (bi-monthly meetings). I email the meeting agenda to my supervisors before every meeting. After finishing the meeting, I again email the meeting minutes (summary of important discussions during the meeting) to my supervisors. I have done this for last 6 months and I suddenly realised that I can use this data to assess the research activity level during my PhD.

The agenda and minute of each meeting has a set of bullet points. The number of bullet points corresponding to agenda and minute of each meeting represents the level of my research activity in the past two weeks before that meeting date. If I am very active and working hard on some research topic, the next meeting is bound to have a lot of bullet points corresponding to related discussion during the meeting. I use this count of meeting activity as a way to estimate my research activity. It is interesting to see that these plots somehow succeeded to depict the amount of work that I have been doing during my PhD research.

This way of measuring research activity has some serious limitations:

  • Not all bullet points in agenda and minute have same weight. Some points in agenda can take about one hour to discuss while others can be resolved in just few minutes. Therefore, it is not fair to attribute equal contribution of each bullet point towards overall research activity level.
  • Serious discussion on a topic during meetings requires very good understanding of different aspects of that research topic. Developing such a level of understanding can take several weeks. Therefore, the underlying assumption that activity during a meeting is a result of work done in the past two weeks is not always true.

In spite of these limitations, I decided to create this plot because it gives a good (although not very accurate) overview of my PhD research activity. I am waiting for the last meeting at the end of my PhD and wondering how such a plot for 4 years would look like.


Written by abhishekdutta

July 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm