26 Jan 2022

Practical notes

Practical notes, tips, and information about how we operate in our group for a happy working relationship.

Taking ownership

My goal is to give you as much ownership as possible, whether that is for a collaborative research project we are working on together, or your PhD or postdoc research. This means that I do not want to give you a step-by-step list of tasks to follow, but help you develop or deepen your capabilities to be an independent and innovative researcher.

For tasks that are your responsibility, I expect that unless I hear otherwise from you, you are progressing on these tasks so that we are on track to meet any deadlines (see working policy on responsibilities).

When you need input from me or when you need me to do something to move a project forward, you need to be proactive and tell me - set up a meeting or raise it at our next scheduled meeting. I do not always have an overview of what is happening across different tasks in different projects.

Giving feedback

If I ask you to do help out with something on a project and you are unsure what I want, push me to clarify who is responsible for what. I want you to give feedback on things that go wrong with particular projects or with our working relationship in general. I will not hold critical feedback against you, I will not take it personally, and I will work with you to fix things.

Managing your workload

It can be difficult for me to judge whether you are overwhelmed with work or have so little to do that you are bored. In either of these cases, tell me as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to give critical feedback on anything I could be doing better to help you manage your workload. What counts is not time spent working, but the results (see working policy).

One-on-one meetings

We will usually have a fixed schedule for a regular one-on-one meeting. You are in control of the agenda for these meetings. If you are working on externally funded projects with hard deliverables and deadlines, this weekly meeting also lets me stay on top of progress on our team’s commitments to these projects. In addition, you can contact me any time if you want to discuss something and I will do my best to make time.

Bi-weekly group meetings

Working in academia can be more lonely than working in industry. In particular during a PhD you may be working on your own for long stretches of time. In interdisciplinary research, people in the group may not even be using the same methods and tools, and not everybody will be working on directly related problems. Despite this, whenever possible we want to work together, share efforts on common problems, and help each other learn and develop. For this, we have a bi-weekly group meeting.


You decide whether you want to work with Linux, macOS or Windows, so that you can use the software (and hardware) you are comfortable and productive with.

Even if you do not think you will be writing a lot of code, learn to use the Git version control system. This will come in very handy sooner or later. The Introduction to Git (by Microsoft) is a good place to start if this is new to you.

Further reading

Non-exhaustive list of things worth having a look at:


This document was inspired by: