tips

Tip #4 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Elation

There is nothing better than getting a punishingly difficult technique to work, or coming up with the next research question after interpreting a result.

An in-depth summer research experience will give you the luxury of time to think about strategies and perhaps the time to test several. It might be so exciting that you’ll have difficulty sleeping some nights even when you’re soooo tired from working all day.

Tip #3 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Frustration

Being in the lab five days a week for several hours each day will certainly help you meet your research objectives faster than during the semester. However, at some point your project will likely hit a wall. You might need solve a technical error, be stuck trying to optimize a fickle procedure, or need to dig deeper into the scientific literature and reconsider your strategy.

Tip #2 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Greater Rewards

Spending your summer doing research full-time? Expect to gain greater rewards than a regular semester experience.

More time in the lab means more opportunities to take a greater role in planning and conducting experiments, collecting data, and analyzing results.

You might have the option of working on an independent project as the “student PI” with all the responsibilities and rewards that accompany the title.

Additional hours in the lab will also lead to more opportunities to learn, contribute, and become an integral member of the research team.

Tip #1 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Fatigue

If you’ve decided to make the most of your summer by participating in a full-time research experience, you’re about to embark on a new, challenging adventure, and it won’t include much time for lounging.



During the summer, you might be in the lab more hours in a single day than you spent in the lab in an entire week during the semester. Standing, working, taking notes, and thinking about research for several hours (and days) in a row can be a difficult adjustment.

Stuff Happens So Back Up Your Stuff

Last semester, I spoke with a graduate student who was almost done writing his thesis and then--you guessed it--his computer crapped out on him! 

Unfortunately, he didn’t have a backup. His reasoning? "I’ve never backed up, not even as an undergrad and I never had a problem before.”

Above all, avoid the wishful thinking that because you’ve never had a virus, been a victim of ransomware attack, never driven your car over your computer, or had an untrained puppy pee on it that it could never happen to you.

Got Stocks? Remind Your Mentor

If you're taking a break from your research experience, or won't be returning when the next semester begins, there are some specific tasks you'll need to do before saying goodbye to your labmates.

One task that is easy to overlook, however, is reminding your mentor about any living stocks you worked with during the semester.

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