• Have students handle computer system administration, and let them
think it counts as research.
• Assign older students to guide the younger ones.
• Involve students in decision-making for unimportant things. For example, you can easily wile away an hour of seminar deciding who should
be discussion leader for what chapter of the reading.
• Share your most trivial thoughts with your students. Better yet, bring
them up as seminar discussion topics (“In the shower this morning, it
struck me that whitespace is really important. Let’s think about whitespace from an AI perspective”).
• Avoid conflicts with your students; in particular, don’t be too demanding.
• If a student reveals that he is confused about what counts as meaningful research, ridicule him.
• Take no interest in what courses your students are taking.
• Pick up ideas from going to conferences, then bring them up in seminar without explaining from whom you got them or explaining the context in which they arose.
• Plan for research seminars to last at least two hours.
• Avoid meeting with students individually. Do all advising out in public,
• Never go near the laboratory in the evenings or on weekends.
• Always come unprepared for seminars; you’re smart enough to fake it.
• Never do any programming yourself. After all, you went through that
once, and now you’re an ideas man (or woman).
• Let your students see you rushing to meet deadlines.
• Avoid critical discussions of research strategy. A useful phrase is “We’ll
do it this way. Why? Because I’m the professor and you’re a student.”
• Expect nothing much from your students, and subtly let them know this.
• Give all your students the same research topic, but with slightly different names.
If this is the same topic as your own dissertation topic, all the better.
• Let your students see your grant proposals and learn the art of double-think.
• Enforce disciplinary boundaries. For example, say, “That sounds like the
sort of thing that people in software engineering would work on, so let’s
leave that topic alone,” or “Why do you want to worry about that? That’s
a software engineering issue.”
• Never suggest that your students contact other professors or other researchers.
• Let your students submit articles to third-rate journals.
• If a student’s work is not giving the results expected, belittle her.
• Encourage your students to work on fashionable problems.
• State your opinions loudly and frequently, so your students know what
to write in their theses.
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Marie desJardins ( firstname.lastname@example.org) received her PhD in artificial intelligence
from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992. She currently works with
the Applied Artificial Intelligence Technology Program at SRI International,
doing research in the areas of machine learning, planning, and intelligent tutoring systems. Dr. desJardins has taught numerous undergraduate courses, founded a student AI seminar series, and started the Big Sister program at Berkeley
as president of Women in Computer Science and Engineering.
This article originally appeared in Crossroads 1. 3
(February 1995), “Operating Systems.”