Expectations for Students

First of all, understand that this is directed at security and privacy researchers, in particular for those in my group or interested in joining it. Therefore, while some of the statements may generalize, not all of them will. Therefore, it is important that you recognize that different areas have different types of work; which relates to whether they produce theorems/proofs, empirical (algorithmic) evaluation, or human empirical work. Further, different institutions and even different advisors within the same institution, may have very different expectations.

Most Graduate Students

Year One: Welcome!! It’s your first year of grad school! It can be all kind of things. Exciting! Stressful! The whole range. At the start, you will be working on your courses. At this stage, during the first two terms of this year, ANY research is awesome. But it is also okay if the only research you do is via your classes and participating in our research groups meetings. By the third term, your classes are done and we will be working on research. The following is a rough idea of a “good” norm. You might find you can do more (do what works for you). You might find it a bit of a struggle. The idea is, if you are doing these things, you are meeting expectations, you’re doing well, and don’t worry whether you “should” be doing more.

  • How many hours are you "working"?: It will take some trial and error. Generally, you should be fitting your work within 40 hours each week. Some of this time will be on your courses, some of it on reading papers, some on deciphering code, working through proofs, reading about methodological techniques...and not all of it will necessrily produce something concrete. You may think you're not productive if you, for instance, don't get some code running and get results or your pilot study goes terribly. This is absolutely productive!!! The nature of most of what you're doing, the nature of research, is that we are trying things to find something new! This means we don't know if things will work in advance or what changes we may have to make along the way.
  • Skills and Knowledge: Growth!
  • Meetings: We will meet once a week together for an hour. During this time we can talk about your research (maybe you read a cool paper), your courses, or even just a cool topic in the field you want to know more about. You will also participate in bi-weekly group meetings with the rest of the members of PUPS. At each of these meetings someone will speak on their research or a cool paper they read. Eventually, you will too!
  • Publishing: Probably not much
  • Funding: Apply for things
  • Teaching Assistanships:
  • Organization: notebook, calendar...
  • Research Community: attend talks...

Masters Specific

Your masters degree is roughly speaking between one and two years. I am specifically refering to the Canadian style of a thesis-based masters degree here. In this degree you will complete a set of courses (here at UofA, this is four) as well as complete a research thesis.

Year Two: At this point, you’ve learned a lot. Finished your courses and should have a plan for your thesis that you have started working through. The plan may change as you work through things, but you ahve the first version going.

  • Thesis:

PhD Specific

A PhD is a marathon…or a long stretch made of many different sprints. What this really means is it takes a long time, and often times the only check points you really have across those four to six years are the ones you (hopefully with your advisor) set.

Year One:

Year Two:

Year Three:

Year Four:

Year Five (+):