Monday, June 26, 2006

field assistants - why am I still doing so much work?

I'd blissfully forgotten how much time it takes to manage a field assistant. Previous summers I've been in the field with an assistant, and I had found that if the asst was working 4 10s, I was working 4 12s plus a 6 hour day on Fridays and an hour or two on Sundays. There is always equipment to be loaded, cleaned, and stored, data to be downloaded, entered, and examined, administrivia, ...

This summer we've hired my faithful and capable undergrad as a half-time field technician. His mission is to revisit our field sites from the previous 3 years, download data, document their status, and help us decide which sites to maintain and abandon. So far he's had one field day and I've spent at least 2 days dealing with the planning and aftermath.

It's not that he is in any way incapable or incompetent; it's just that there is a lot of responsibility that he cannot take on because he does not have the same rights and responsbilities as a grad student or full-time, permanent technician.

So far today, I've downloaded data off the field computer, taken it to computing services to get checked out (funny things happened in the field), planned the field campaign for this week, made a backup of the field book, etc. It's now time for my lunch and I've made 0 progress on my diss. I've probably got an hour or two more of work to do before I can send him in the field again. Fortunately, when he is in the field, he is out of cell phone/internet contact and I may actually get some work done.


B said...

I emphasize! I know having people "help" you can really end, up eating your time. Maybe his actually going to the field will save you a little time?

envirogrl said...

This is sooo true. And I'm feeling you on the ZERO dissertation progress. With all the field sampling I've been managing, the time hasn't been there. I've got a month and a half to get mine in shape for my defense - and I'm still generating model results. Good luck making some progress on your stuff. Lack of cell phone contact is a sure sign of a bit of quiet time!