The length of things

No, not those things! I’m thinking about how long it takes me to do shit I need to do to do my job. Before I started my faculty position I had quite a twisted understanding  of how long it took to do the variety of things a PI does, and was surprised at how long it actually took to do things like write grants, prepare animal protocols, prepare lectures, talks, etc. So I decided to share with my readers some of these times, and am curious how long it takes other folks to accomplish the same tasks and whether I’m just simply a slowpoke. So here goes:


1. Time spent writing a grant from scratch: 6-8 Weeks.

2. Time spent revising a grant: 3-4 weeks.

3. Time spent writing a standard-length research article: 4 weeks.

4. Time spent reformatting for another journal: 1 week.

5. Time spent revising article and writing rebuttal for the same journal: 2 weeks.

6. Time spent preparing a new 90 min lecture for class: 10-15 hours.

7. Time spent reviewing and updating a new lecture: 1.5 hours.

8. Time spent preparing a new 50 min research talk: 3-5 hours.

9. Time spent making a poster: 2 days.

10. Time spent preparing a new animal protocol: 1-2 days.

11. Time spent renewing an animal protocol: 2 hours.

12. Time spent reading one research article, carefully: 1 hour.

13. Time spent reviewing a research article for a journal: 1-2 hours.

14. Time spent reviewing one grant proposal: 4 -5 hours.

15. Time spent writing a blog post: 15 min – 2 hours.

16. Time spent making breakfast, sending kids to school and getting my ass to work: 2.5 hours.


Many of these things would actually take longer when I was just starting up. Fortunately I don’t have to do much grading, since I have TA’s to take care of that, but I know for some this is another big time sink. How about you, how long does it take you to do these tasks?

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16 Responses to The length of things

  1. kevin. says:

    It only takes you 3-5 hours to prepare a whole new talk?!?

    It probably takes me that long just to put together a journal club talk just for the lab. How much of that would be new? Does that include making/simplifying the data figures or are you excluding the time spent for that?

    • namnezia says:

      After while you develop a fairly extensive collection of slides, so the extra time is spent rearranging things and making new data slides for whatever new stuff you will be talking about. For journal club it takes me about 2-3 hours, since most slides are totally new, although easy to cut and paste from the journal.

  2. CoR says:

    10-15 hours per lecture! Holy shit I am so fucked.

  3. DrugMonkey says:

    The more grant proposals you have written, the faster they get..

  4. I am much faster than thatte. Pretty every one of those things I do in about one half to one third of the time you listed.

  5. NatC says:

    Namnezia – thanks for posting this, it’s is one of the more useful lists I’ve seen lately!

  6. Dr. O says:

    Besides getting myself and Monkey out the door in the AM (1.5 hours), it takes me longer to do each of those (at least the ones I’ve done). I might as well start thinking about giving up on sleep right now…

  7. gerty-z says:

    I should spend 8 weeks on a grant, but instead I end up procrastinating and then freaking out during the last month. Always 😦 I also spend far less time than you on putting together a talk or poster. And I am apparently pretty much fucked when I have to start prepping lectures, if it takes at least 10-15 hours. Yikes!

  8. I agree with gerty-z–I spend about a month on a grant, but I should spend longer. It takes me 8-10 hours for a lecture. I’d say I take about 4 weeks for a standard journal article, but only 2 days to reformat. I’m about the same as you for reviewing and updating lectures, prepping new talks, and reviewing journal articles. It takes me 3-4 days to do a new poster, but I am a bit of a perfectionist when I have to spend money for printing.

    I feel like I should be faster at doing some of this stuff, but I guess it takes how long it takes. I am much faster now then when I started as an independent scientist at National Lab. I am hoping I get faster at prepping my teaching, since I will be 1/1 at a minimum for a while .

  9. proflikesubstance says:

    I probably take longer on a grant from scratch, but less time on a revision. We’re also out of the house in roughly an hour and I can’t afford to take 10-15 hours per lecture. Other than the grant from scratch, I don’t think I take more time than you listed on these things.

  10. namnezia says:

    About the 10-15 hours for a class lecture: this is a lecture from scratch where I have NO material. However if I’m using a textbook chapter then it takes me an afternoon, but I rarely lecture out of a textbook.

  11. Girlpostdoc says:

    This was really useful.

    “Time spent writing a standard-length research article: 4 weeks”

    Does that mean that all the data collection and analysis are complete and its just the writing? Or does that include data analysis?

    • namnezia says:

      Of course! I wish I could collect and analyze all the data for a paper in 4 weeks! 4 weeks means making the final versions of the figures and writing the manuscript.

  12. DRo says:

    Wow–your listed durations are almost spot on with how long it takes me to do those things. For reference, I am 6 years out from the PhD.

    The only difference is that it takes me 1-2 days to put together a new 50 min research talk.

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