how to schedule a lab meeting - talk with me first about general availability (ie, any out of town trips, regular days/times I am not available, etc) - you might want to also do this with a few committee members if you can do it in a casual non-obstrusive way (eg, a conversation in the hallway) - based on the information above create a doodle poll or alternative scheduler with a relatively small number of options. Polls with more than about 10-15 options are very onerous to fill out and it will likely take your committee members much longer to complete these
How much time should you spend in the lab? I expect you to treat graduate school as a full time job. If you spend 20 hours a week on your TA responsibilities, you should also spend at least 20 hours a week on your research. If you are not TAing, you should be spending at least 40 hours a week on research. That time does not all need to spent in the lab. However, I generally like to see students coming into the lab on a regular basis for the first year or two, until they are settled into a research project and moving forward well on their own. After that, students can work at home most days as long as they are making good progress. Here is what I mean by good progress: (1) have a research project in progress by year 2, (2) passed prelims by beginning of year 3, and (3) after prelims, submitting at least one chapter per year for review in a scientific journal. Simply collecting data is not sufficient to qualify as 'good progress'. Data should be analysed, written up, and submitted as your progress through your dissertation. Waiting until the last 6 months of your degree to start writing your chapters is a recipe for disaster on several different levels.
I don't worry too much about students taking vacation, unless the student is not making good progress.
If I am paying you as an RA, I will have more oversight over a student's schedule.
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