Friday, August 20, 2010

Atypical day in the life...

Despite this blog being called ‘a day in the life of a psychologist', and Will pretending that he spends his days driving around Brisbane and on skiing holidays, there hasn’t been a description of what us PhD students do all day. This is not only because there are so many wildly different areas of research, but also because our work and personal lives vary so much.

For example:

People have many different jobs. These may include (on top of being a PhD student):
Tutoring, research assistant work, programming, part time checkout chick, research guinea pig, babysitting, bee keeping (you never know...)

Our work can also vary greatly depending of the stage of the experiment or study.
We could be frantically researching to ensure our brilliant idea hasn't been done yet, or stuck in the lab trying to figure out where our programming went wrong. We could be wading through data and statistics, or writing an article that is going to make us famous.

Schedules vary depending on the size of your social circle!
There are the coffees and lunches, and then the journal clubs, meetings, presentations and seminars. If you're really nice, or just can't think of an appropriate excuse in time, half of your life is spent doing friend's experiments for them!

I would like to share one such day. This was my Thursday:

Arriving at uni at 8:30 (damn car parks filling up so quickly), the first half hour was spent catching up on emails and facebook (this is the last I mention this, although you can be sure it occurs regularly throughout the day of a student).
9-10am: Analysing data and doing statistics for my first completed experiment (yay!)
10-11am: Writing an outline for presenting these results to my supervisors.
11-2pm: Testing participants. As this primarily consists of watching first year psychology students press buttons, this also allowed me time to practice a speech, grab lunch, and start programming a new experiment.
2-3pm: Finished programming the experiment, and then decided it was terrible.
3-5pm: Analysing the latest experiment (those were the last participants needed!), and adding these results to my presentation outline.

At 5pm was the three-minute thesis competition. I do not like public speaking, however being a researcher requires presenting your research, so I entered this to get feedback for future reference. I will leave the details of this competition to Will Harrison, and offer my congratulations for his winning it! For those interested, the SBS finals for this take place on the 1st Sept, come along and support psychology!

Keep in mind that my day is in no way indicative of how others spend their time. For example, while I tend to stick to the hours of 8:30 to 5, many of my colleagues stay after hours and weekends. I prefer to keep my weekends free for things like drinking, sleep, trips to Melbourne, and bacon.


Are you studying Psychology@UQ and want to contribute to theuqpsycblog?? Send Will an email to find out how:


  1. I'd just like to make a comment regarding Nonie's opening sentence, "Despite this blog being called ‘a day in the life of a psychologist' [...] there hasn’t been a description of what us PhD students do all day."

    We actually have had about 46 posts this year alone, all of which had the aim to give an insight into what PhD students do all day :)

  2. I do apologise. I was referring to mundane day-to-day activities, rather than the exciting events and things we get to do.

    In fact, those 46 posts help to emphasise the insane variety of things that do make up our everyday lives as researchers!

  3. Congrats on participating in the 3MT! I really enjoyed learning about the types of problems that you and some of your colleagues are researching.

  4. just wanted to add that in addition to the delightful Mr Will Harrison, there was also another 3MT winner - the equally delightful Miss Stacey Parker :)

  5. Bacon!

    That is all I wanted to say =)