For current and prospective students.

Expectations are a two-way street.

This document summarises my expectations for current and prospective research students. Explicitly listing expectations means that prospective students know what kind of working environment they can expect, and current student know what's expected of them during their research project.

There is an overwhelming level of evidence indicating that explicitly listing expectations (from both parties) leads to higher research outputs, happier students and researchers, and a more effective and friendly working environment. For these reasons I strongly encourage all students to document their expectations of supervisors so that any mis-matches (e.g. in working style, demands, or expected outputs) are identified and worked through early on. There are many resources online that will help guide a student in making their implicit expectations explicit.




Research practices

If you disagree with any of these expectations you should tell me you do because this is a living document and feedback is how we all navigate this world.

How to impress academics

What follows below are not expectations per se but are good tips on how to impress academics. Many students find these kinds of tips useful to make sure time with their supervisor is effectively spent. You should know that you don't necessarily have to 'impress' anyone during your career. But most researchers with good jobs (in industry and academia) were undoubtedly helped by the positive impressions they made on well-known people throughout their career. In the future those people you impress could be your supervisors, mentors, letter-writers, or people who chair fellowship or tenure committees.This section includes points that I had thought about before, but were cogently distilled by Professor Lisa Kewley (ANU), Professor Darren Croton (Swinburne), and Professor Matthew Colless (ANU) at an Astro3D workshop in 2019, held at the Australian National University.

Research has feedback and momentum, and it's not for everyone

Academics can identify which students are really committed to their research project, and those that are not. The more you contribute to a project, the more of my time and resources you will get.

Lastly, you should recognise that most doctoral students do not continue in academia. Perhaps 1% of successful doctoral students will be offered a tenured position at a research institution. That means academia is the alternative career path! You should do whatever makes you happiest, but you should let your supervisors and mentors know what your 5 year and 10-year goals are. If you don't have career goals on 5- and 10-year timescales, you should start making some. Don't let your career happen by chance. Tell your supervisors and mentors what those goals are, and how you plan to achieve them. They will help guide and challenge you.


The section on "How to impress academics" were inspired by Professor Lisa Kewley (ANU), Professor Matthew Colless (ANU), and Professor Darren Croton (Swinburne) based on an Astro3D workshop in 2019, held at the Australian National University.