# How many hours per day does a full-time professor spend on pure research?

1. Dec 19, 2007

### mathboy

Is it more or less than 6 hours per day?

2. Dec 19, 2007

### JasonRox

Pff... like 14-16 hours a week I think.

Ignoring research after 5pm and on weekends.

3. Dec 19, 2007

### mathboy

I mean including during the professor's free time.

But if it is, say 15 hours per 5 workdays during work hours, that's 3 hours per day before heading for home. Assuming the prof gets home by 6 pm, that leaves him with up 8 hours per day doing pure research. Am I right? So a prof can squeeze in up to 8 hours of pure research per day, right?

Mathwonk, how many hours of pure research can you squeeze in per day?

Last edited: Dec 19, 2007
4. Dec 19, 2007

### JasonRox

Pff... does he or she have a family? A life outside of research?

I doubt they all (or want to) put in 8 hours a day during each business day.

You have to eat diner, go to the washroom, eat lunch, drive to work and from work. SLEEP!

5. Dec 19, 2007

### mathboy

After doing 3 hours of research at the university, a prof can surely get in an extra 5 hours of research after getting home around 5:30.

6. Dec 19, 2007

### JasonRox

You have to be joking.

That's so unrealistic to keep that up for weeks at a time.

7. Dec 19, 2007

### mathboy

You must remember that a prof loves doing his research. So when he gets home, he's not afraid of ignoring his family to solve his latest conjecture. This diligence is what made him a mathematician to begin with. I am being serious.

I remember hearing a story about a prof that got into an accident because he was trying to solve a problem while driving. He said that he was working out a critical key step when all of a sudden a tree just jumped in front of his car. This is exactly what he said.

Last edited: Dec 19, 2007
8. Dec 19, 2007

### JasonRox

Seriously, what year are you in?

Runners love running. But do they run all day? Obviously not.

9. Dec 19, 2007

### mathboy

1st year. And I study 8 to 10 hours per day. If I were a professor, I would gladly put that many hours of research per day as well (if I could avoid inquisitive students like myself).

10. Dec 19, 2007

### JasonRox

Whoa, that's a lot studying!

11. Dec 20, 2007

### d_leet

I doubt he could sustain his family for very long like that, or that they would put up with him for long if that were the case.

12. Dec 20, 2007

### Gib Z

Do that include Course time and homework? If so, then thats ok. If thats pure extra work you have personally undertaken yourself, thats quite extreme >.<

13. Dec 20, 2007

### J77

Rubbish, you may get some like that but most people I know have families and leave their work at work.

Perhaps if there's a grant deadline coming up one may work through the weekend/into the evenings, but the missus doesn't like it

14. Dec 20, 2007

### f95toli

It depends on what "kind" of professor it is, the conditions vary widely.
However, 6 hours a day is clearly unrealistic. Many professors would be happy if they were able to squeeze in 6 hours a WEEK because they tend to be so busy with teaching, paperwork, supervising students, writing grant applications, comittees etc.
Hence, many spend a LOT of time working but that does not mean that they are doing "pure research".
6 hours a day (and more) is possible for a Ph.D. student without family, but once you are past that stage other things start to "intrude".

15. Dec 20, 2007

### mathboy

Don't forget that if a professor falls behind in his research, his career will be in jeopardy. I don't see how a prof can maintain his job if he only relies on his 3 hours per day of research at his work place. He has to put in more hours of research per day than 3 to avoid being replaced by a more prolific researcher.

16. Dec 20, 2007

### ozymandias

The prolific researcher will then be replaced by a REAL professor who has spent his time advertising his results by filing grants, giving talks and attending conferences ;).

Assaf
Physically Incorrect

17. Dec 20, 2007

### JasonRox

If you want to do lots of research, you're better off catching 9 to 5pm job that pays well enough to live comfortably and doing you're research after work. Then sign up for any course at the nearby university (math or otherwise) for the sole purpose to have access to the journals and possibly talk with professors. You'll have WAY more time with this route. It's what I plan on doing.

Note: I called schools for doing a part-time master's and it's possible. Take one course at a time.

18. Dec 20, 2007

### CRGreathouse

That's what I'm doing.

19. Dec 20, 2007

### f95toli

ozymandias is correct. You don't need to be a succesful researcher to be successful in academia, for professors it is usually more important to have a succesfull GROUP; i.e. as long as the Ph.D students, Post-docs etc that they supervise produce good results they don't really have to be involved in the day-to-day research in order to be considered successful.

I wasn't kidding when I wrote that some professors would be happy if they were able to do 6 hours of research a week. Some professors run research groups with 20+ members (in the group where I did my PhD there were at times over 50 people and only two professors), it is like being the head of a small company; the paperwork alone takes more than 40 hours a week.

20. Dec 20, 2007

### jim mcnamara

I was one of these guys at one time. And the answer is 'A LOT of time' I did research in places you would probably no go voluntarily for 4 months at a time, then worked weekends and evenings trying to indentify things and sort out data, write summaries, etc.
I did it because it was a major interest.

I had to leave because my kids medical conditions required a salary twice what I was making plus having real health insurance to boot. It always struck me as odd that teaching people paid less than one-half what generating utility bills paid.