Hi I am a first year student and creating the plan for my experiments, which keep being pushed further due to covid. I am creating a contingency plan as we do not really know when things will be 'normal'. Does any body have any tips, or examples of things they have considered. (My Phd focus is on Biomechanical models for which I will need public participation and access to Gait analysis Labs.)
I am now a 4th year experimental PhD student and I can tell you contingency planning is a guessing game. The only thing you can really do is plan for what you currently know, don't bother with what ifs. So if they say May, make a plan to start a key experiment or trial or whatever ASAP from when you start. With the current lockdown yoyo, I personally have moved down to working in bursts of a few weeks, were I plan to do a certain amount of work, work flat out to maximise lab time and worry about the analysis later, as I can do analysis/writing during lockdown. It might not be appropriate for you but I would consider ways to maximise your lab time when you do get it, such as; pre-made excel sheets, pre-made data filters (or at least attempts), detailed methodology (and asking where everything is) and expected results so you know if the data looks right at glance and can continue immediately instead of analysing everything.
Also, I would add that you shouldn't worry too much about a 3 year plan in your first year. No one ever sticks to their initial plan as things always change through your PhD. So it doesn't need to be perfect but just a guideline.
I agree with rewt. Try plan out your expeirments as much as possible-For each method what material do you need. For examples I am starting a new batch of trials in 3 weeks ( if i am allowed back in the lab) and I have pre-made data sheets for excell,made a list of material needs like shaken water baths etc and check with other lab mates there requirments, to make sure I have what I need and wont be set back due to equiment. Likewise for regents etc find out what you need what there and order stuff thtas missing. Try plan stuff for the gaps if you have long wait times.
Depending on you lab rota it might be worth teaming up with some people . For example there are a few of us running similar expeirments and will have access on different days- they will monitor my trials when im not there and vise versa. Equally for prep work were planning to make similar items in batches to share out. I also wouldnt plan long experiments if you can help it that way if you have to shut down you wont have lost months of data.
The work I am doing requires public input- at the moment I am arranging as many video calls as possible and sending the a list of question/things i want to dicuss pre-call, thatway they will equally be prepared they can equally be prepared.
In terms of stuff you could do outside the lab - review paper, moddeling, get you head around any equations that you might be needing.
Read as much as possible- get on top of references- attend online training events- talk wiht your boss and see if they have any old data that you could be working with.
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