I often end up frustrated over the pace of my work, or rather the lack of "worthy" results. During my feedback talks with my colleagues and superiors I usually get good feedback but I find it distressing that most of it is qualitative arguments.
I sometimes feel like I have not progressed as much as I would have liked to, but not sure how to assess whether or not I have developed "enough" over time. Which led me to wonder if it is possible at all to measure how well a PhD student is progressing.
The usual measures in the community appears to be:
- number of publications
- which journals the publications appeared in (or rather the impact factor)
- number of hours in the lab (regarding how "hard-working" one is)
- number of credits taken from courses during phd studies
I personally find none of the above to be a good measure. Publications are a fact of research, or the goal rather. But they should not a be measure of how well a PhD candidate is doing in research. I believe the pragmatic demand on "more publications" has essentially lead to overall lower quality and novelty in individual publications. But even without that subjective comment, it should not be a revelation to anyone here that the amount of publications (and especially in which journals they are published) is more dependent on the seniors on the paper rather than the grad student who wrote it.
As for the other two measures I point to, they are just too naive variables to mean much. I mean you can be in the lab for 18h a day, but not learn much new or even worse not even remember those things you have learned. Besides one can also argue whether or not it's actually better for a grad student to be obsessed with number of hours in the lab, or courses taken.
Summary: Is there a good way to measure your progress through-out your studies? How can I evaluate my development as a scientist, in quantitative (and unbiased) terms?