For My Current Graduate Students: Giving a Response to JJF and Getting a Response from JJF

It is very important to me to be available to my students. I'm really busy much of the time, however, so my availability is sometimes limited. This page is to share some tips with you about how to get the most out of me as your advisor. First though, a word about your duty to be responsive to me.

Being Responsible/Responsive: If I contact you with a question or a request it is your duty to respond to me as quickly as possible. Think of this as the RESPONSE in the word Responsibility. Your relationship with your advisor is arguably the most important relationship you have with anyone in academia during your grad school years. The advisor-advisee relationship requires initial and continuing mutual consent for that relationship. Although this is a professional/academic relationship and an asymmetric relationship due to our different roles, it is also a two-way relationship. At its best it grows into a close collegial relationship and friendship over the years and may continue to thrive for many years after your graduation. You must do your part for this growth to occur. Your advisor (that is me, JJF) is not here just to serve your needs, but expects you to be an active agent in a two-way relationship. A primary aspect of this relationship is to always prioritize requests from JJF. For instance, answer all emails from me requesting information promptly (within 24 hours unless it is a weekend or vacation period). If you don't have an answer or know an answer then say that -- don't leave the email unanswered. If you are going to be away from email, set up a vacation message with your return date so when I email you I'll get that information. At times I will appoint someone to operate on my behalf. If that occurs you are responsible for answering that person just as promptly. For instance, I may ask my RA or the RA coordinator to gather information from you. Those requests should be responded to just as promptly as emails from me.

Getting a response from JJF:

Email: If you have a question that I can potentially answer in email, that is often the best way to get feedback from me. I tend to answer emails pretty quickly. I try to answer important emails within 24 hours (although over weekends or breaks I might not be checking email so often so it might be longer). However if you want response to a document that is longer than about a page, I prefer a hardcopy version of the document in addition to electronic. (See more below on that).

Meeting in Person: I love to meet and talk. Depending on my load, I don't always have time to set up weekly meetings with each student, but sometimes I do meet with a student weekly for some period of time. More often I arrange every-other-week meetings. You are always welcome to visit me during my office hours each week. I particularly like to walk and talk, so if you are a walker let me know. If you want to meet with me in person, send me an email telling me so and times that might work for you and whether this needs to be a sitting-down meeting or could be a walking meeting.

Lab Meeting: I expect you to come to lab meetings (and to let me know if you will not be there). Right before or after lab meetings are sometimes a good time to sign forms or have quick conversations. We usually take turns making general announcements for the lab at the beginning of the group meeting. If you are scheduled to make a presentation at lab meeting it is important you consult with me prior to the presentation about the content. If you have a handout or plan a visual presentation I need to preview it in time for you to make changes. One thing that should always be on handouts or presentations is the name of all collaborators, acknowledgements to others who have helped, the date, and usually you should include a disclaimer indicating it is preliminary information and not for citation or distribution. One other tip: Almost all the empirical research in our lab is collaborative. When discussing collaborative research always use the plural rather than singular ("our study" versus "my study" and "Jones' & Smith's project" versus "Jones' project"). If in doubt, err in the direction of sharing credit.

SCHEDULING COMMITTEE MEETINGS: When you need to schedule an advising meeting do it with plenty of advance warning for your committee. Also, instead of writing to your whole committee and asking for everyone's schedule, a more efficient system (and respectful of your committee members' time) is the following:
1) write to JJF with your available times;
2) JJF writes back with times she has that overlap with your times;
3) THEN write to the rest of the committee with just those overlap times to see which might work for the other committee members. I highly recommend you consider using Doodle for Step 3.

Papers, Documents, Forms, and Other Written Things

1. GIVE ME HARDCOPY (rather than or in addition to electronic) whenever possible
2. ALLOW ME 2 WEEKS whenever possible.

More detail: Please always give me hardcopy rather than or in addition to electronic documents. And a general rule is Do NOT wait until the last minute! If you wait until the last minute I may not be able to sign your form, read your paper, write the letter of recommendation, etc. I recommend you consider TWO WEEKS to be the usual advance time I will need for things. This may seem like a long time, but I sometimes get 5 or 6 students at the same time asking for feedback, letters, etc, and so I need the time to do a thorough job. This is particularly true at crunch times like late fall term (when I am usually getting lots of requests for letters of recommendation).

I have many manuscripts arrive in my inbox or mail every day.  To help me know what I’m working on context information is extremely beneficial. When we are working on manuscripts together it helps me enormously to have these things:

  1. A cover page with authorship, date, title (or working title), word count, intended journal or book submission and any word limits
  2. Both hard and electronic copies
  3. An electronic file name that is likely to be clear to both of us (e.g.: your file “FYP” or “thesis” or “APA conference manuscript” is not helpful to me)
  4. An electronic file name that includes the date and initials of last person to edit it (so it keeps changing as we change it)
  5. Page numbers on each page and header with some identifying info
  6. Double spacing throughout
  7. Figures!  I am a visual thinker AND so are many other readers – whenever possible please include figures!


FEEDBACK ON PAPERS, EXAMS, ETC: I will do my very best to give you feedback within 2 weeks of your giving me written material for feedback or evaluation. (Note that doctoral dissertations need to be distributed 3 weeks ahead of the defense by grad school rules.)

SIGNATURE ON FORMS: If the form is a request for subject hours from the subject pool or something else fairly straightforward I may only need a day or two to sign it and get it back to you, but if the form involves material that I may need you to revise before I sign it, then I may need longer. For straight forward forms you also can bring them to me during office hours or lab meeting and sometimes I can sign them and return them to you immediately.

For letters of recommendation I need 2 weeks plus materials such as a copy of your application essay and supporting material. I have a particular protocol for applications to grad school and professional schools. Please read through my instructions for letters of recommendation, as parts of it likely apply to your own situations and you may want to let undergrads in the lab know about the expectations. If you are applying for internships or jobs - situations in which lots of letters are going out at the same time -- I will likely ask you to send the list of addresses to Lori Olsen so she can produce the hard copy letters (I will separately send her my letter of reference).

TIGHT TIME LINE: If you realize you are not going to get something to me 2 weeks in advance, then you should let me know as soon as you realize the situation. Do not assume I am tracking your deadlines even if they loom large for you (and therefore do not assume I will anticipate the tight timing without your explicitly telling me), as I have enough challenge tracking my own deadlines.

See Also: