"Time- and Project Management for new PhD students"

IMPRS NeuroCom

  • Start: Oct 28, 2019
  • End: Oct 29, 2019
  • Speaker: Dr Alexander Schiller
  • http://www.schillermertens.de/
  • Location: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  • Room: Charlotte Bühler Room (C402)
  • Host: IMPRS Coordination
  • Contact: imprs-neurocom@cbs.mpg.de
Course content:



Research, teaching, professional development, private arrangements and not least the thesis: Time pressure results in many things only being half done. In the end there is not enough time for the important tasks and you are left with the uncomfortable feeling of again not having managed everything. It is however not difficult to improve dealing with the personal time budget. Through the implementation of planning and time management methods, individual disturbances can be minimised, priorities can be set and planning horizons can be determined in order to make the own work more effective.


As Ph.D. student it is important to develop greater awareness of the role and needs of the PI and others in the group. An impressive activity outside puts participants into the situation of being blind and being led by whistling sounds from a “shepherd”. Thereby, the interaction of trust, leadership and control in the relationship of supervisor and Ph.D. student is simulated. Review sessions after this activity are going often very deeply into the understanding of role models in the actual research group.


Understanding group dynamics is essential for successful research in science. The Tuckman model (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) is used to describe typical group dynamics in (in)efficient teams. Several activities demonstrate this outside the comfort zone of the participants. Reflective sessions focus on group dynamics in new groups, loss and gain of team members and show problem solving approaches in the team (PISPAR model).


Giving and receiving correct feedback is one of the most efficient tools in leadership. As it needs quite a lot of experience to use feedback in an authentic manner Ph.D. students should learn everything about it. While their studies they can try it out and develop the technique on a professional level. We focus on the importance of feedback for personal development with several activities: “Pass the Message”, Johari Window and role plays. We produce interactively feedback guidelines for the givers and receivers.


Conflicts about authorship can be handled with the following quote: “In a scientific career everyone will have his own war stories”. Ph.D. students should understand how important it is not to make enemies in the small world of science because this can be decisive on their career path. We will focus on origin and resources of conflicts and offer several conflict handling styles. Collaborations have to be cleverly and strategically planned and nurtured to render scientific projects and relationships sustainable. At the end of the course, the participants will dispose of a personal toolbox that will allow them to plan their Ph.D. project, communicate efficiently with the supervisor, other members in the team and collaborators, a skill that is key to success!


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