How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

How much time weekly do you spend on schoolwork and research as a PhD?

<30 hours
1
6%
30 - 40 hours
3
19%
40 - 50 hours
4
25%
50 - 60 hours
6
38%
60 - 70 hours
0
No votes
70 - 80 hours
0
No votes
80+ hours
2
13%
 
Total votes: 16

Ryker
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How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Ryker » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:49 pm

I was really wondering whether there is even a distribution on how much time people spend while working on their PhD. Every time I hear about this, I get really high numbers, so, as someone who is interested in ultimately pursuing grad studies, I thought I'd post here to get some more insight.

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HappyQuark
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby HappyQuark » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:00 pm

Ryker wrote:I was really wondering whether there is even a distribution on how much time people spend while working on their PhD. Every time I hear about this, I get really high numbers, so, as someone who is interested in ultimately pursuing grad studies, I thought I'd post here to get some more insight.


I'm pretty sure a similar topic and poll was done a while back so I'd take a look around the forum on this topic.

Ryker
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Ryker » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:07 pm

Do you mean the one on how much free time one has as a first-year grad student or a different one? Because I can't really find a general one.

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HappyQuark
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby HappyQuark » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:30 pm

Ryker wrote:Do you mean the one on how much free time one has as a first-year grad student or a different one? Because I can't really find a general one.


I seem to recall a different one although when I did a search I couldn't find it.

Ryker
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Ryker » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:56 pm

Yeah, neither could I, so, unless a link can be found, I would suggest anyone willing to participate in this one :)

badphysicist
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby badphysicist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:15 am

As a MS student I average about 75 hours a week on my Thesis/RA/school work. Other grad students (that aren't working full time too) I've talked to range from 60-85 hours a week. So I'm expecting that the PhD guys are working the same if not more hours than we are.

CarlBrannen
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby CarlBrannen » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:21 am

Ouch! I was a lazy grad student. Most of my time was spent playing with electronics or shooting the bull, as far as I can recall.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:05 am

badphysicist wrote:As a MS student I average about 75 hours a week on my Thesis/RA/school work. Other grad students (that aren't working full time too) I've talked to range from 60-85 hours a week. So I'm expecting that the PhD guys are working the same if not more hours than we are.


There is no way in hell I'll be working 85 hours a week on my PhD dissertation. I'll be amazed if I eat these words. There may be some weeks I work this hard, assuming I am making good progress and really want to figure something out, but in general, there is no way I will slave my life away like that. As far as the courses/teaching part of graduate school (typically the first two years), 20 hours for teaching, and I'd guess around 30 hours a week on courses.

-Riley

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:14 am

WhoaNonstop wrote:
badphysicist wrote:As a MS student I average about 75 hours a week on my Thesis/RA/school work. Other grad students (that aren't working full time too) I've talked to range from 60-85 hours a week. So I'm expecting that the PhD guys are working the same if not more hours than we are.


There is no way in hell I'll be working 85 hours a week on my PhD dissertation. I'll be amazed if I eat these words. There may be some weeks I work this hard, assuming I am making good progress and really want to figure something out, but in general, there is no way I will slave my life away like that. As far as the courses/teaching part of graduate school (typically the first two years), 20 hours for teaching, and I'd guess around 30 hours a week on courses.

-Riley


My friends in grad school spend about 45-50. Some are in lab for 70 hrs, but they're wasting 20 of those. There's a limit to how much the human mind can produce in a given amount of time.

MAYBE if you count reading physics journals you can get up to 70 hrs a week. But as far as actually producing work, 50 is probably the max (a normal wook week, plus Saturday).

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:03 am

bfollinprm wrote:My friends in grad school spend about 45-50. Some are in lab for 70 hrs, but they're wasting 20 of those. There's a limit to how much the human mind can produce in a given amount of time.

MAYBE if you count reading physics journals you can get up to 70 hrs a week. But as far as actually producing work, 50 is probably the max (a normal wook week, plus Saturday).


I was going to make a comment about productivity decrease after a certain amount of hours myself. Honestly though, I don't see how anyone can force themselves to work that much. There are other things in life to enjoy as well. :D

-Riley

bfollinprm
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:20 am

WhoaNonstop wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:My friends in grad school spend about 45-50. Some are in lab for 70 hrs, but they're wasting 20 of those. There's a limit to how much the human mind can produce in a given amount of time.

MAYBE if you count reading physics journals you can get up to 70 hrs a week. But as far as actually producing work, 50 is probably the max (a normal wook week, plus Saturday).


I was going to make a comment about productivity decrease after a certain amount of hours myself. Honestly though, I don't see how anyone can force themselves to work that much. There are other things in life to enjoy as well. :D

-Riley


Yeah, my plan is 35 hrs a week (5 days a week, with an hour lunch), with ~1-2 hrs of work (mostly reading) to work on after dinner. When I'm done research, or close to a paper, maybe I'll break the rule once I see a light at the end of the tunnel for the project (but only if I get to take time off before starting something else).

Ryker
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Ryker » Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:52 pm

Yeah, that's why I was wondering whether everyone works such hellish hours. Like you mentioned, there's a limit on one's productivity, but not only that, I have plenty of other interests (even though it sometimes seems it's blasphemy saying that on a physics board), and I don't think loving physics, but wanting to do other things, as well, are in principle mutually exclusive. Or at least they shouldn't be. But it seems sometimes even questioning this gets looked down upon, because then you're deemed unworthy of pursuing research or whatever. I don't know, I guess I just want to get a clearer picture whether there is a wider distribution of working hours, such as, say, in industry, or whether there really is just the one and only way to make it through with success and accomplishment. Luckily, I'm still only a first-year student, and hopefully I'll be getting my first taste of research over summer, so I'll be in a better position to decide whether this really is for me. Right now, research is something I want to pursue and am willing to dedicate a big chunk of my day to, but that isn't to say that is all I want to do.

Anyway, thanks for the input thus far, I appreciate it, and please don't be shy of adding further and answering the poll :)

bfollinprm
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:02 pm

One thing to keep in mind is research can vary enormously depending on what you're doing. I have friends in observation, instrumentation, analysis, and theory.

Observation people put in long hours, but it's not really taxing work (mostly someone just needs to take a shift at the detector, and be there if something goes wrong).

Instrumentation people go through long periods with nothing to do while they're waiting for a part, etc, and then go though spurts where something needs built/fixed/tested.

Analysis is the only one that's really a 9-5. Code monkeys they are, and some of them are fanatical. But most I say restrict themselves to 50 hrs/week, and it's whenever they want.

Theorists don't really have working hours; they also don't have downtime hours. It's like art--you're constantly working, but none of it is single-minded (else you get stuck in a rut). The exception is when they're coding a simulation, when that happens their day reverts to the one described above.


Everyone works long hours when it's time to put out the papers, but that's only because no one bothers to do the right thing and write up as they go along. And most people are some combination of these 4, few do just one.

badphysicist
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby badphysicist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:58 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:
badphysicist wrote:As a MS student I average about 75 hours a week on my Thesis/RA/school work. Other grad students (that aren't working full time too) I've talked to range from 60-85 hours a week. So I'm expecting that the PhD guys are working the same if not more hours than we are.


There is no way in hell I'll be working 85 hours a week on my PhD dissertation. I'll be amazed if I eat these words. There may be some weeks I work this hard, assuming I am making good progress and really want to figure something out, but in general, there is no way I will slave my life away like that. As far as the courses/teaching part of graduate school (typically the first two years), 20 hours for teaching, and I'd guess around 30 hours a week on courses.

-Riley


My friends in grad school spend about 45-50. Some are in lab for 70 hrs, but they're wasting 20 of those. There's a limit to how much the human mind can produce in a given amount of time.

MAYBE if you count reading physics journals you can get up to 70 hrs a week. But as far as actually producing work, 50 is probably the max (a normal wook week, plus Saturday).


I do maybe 6-7 hours/day on my MS Thesis/RA work which includes experiment, analysis, reading journals, etc. I think do 4 hours/day on the classes that I'm taking this semester. The other 6-8 hours in the day I spend on random crap so it doesn't really feel like it's work as I don't really do 7 hours straight work. I feel less exhausted with this work week than I did pulling 55 hours a week (10hr for 5 day + 5 hour Saturday) at boeing; though I was getting paid 15 hours overtime doing that.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Goran15 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:16 pm

I'd like to restart this topic as I have gotten the "we work 12 hours a day 7 days a week here." How much time do you spend in the lab? I think that at least Sunday (and possibly Saturday) should be free. Is there a way to talk to have the weekends off but not come across as as lazy (if it turns out everyone else is working on weekends)?

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby TheBeast » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:41 pm

Goran15 wrote:How much time do you spend in the lab?

I'm in hep-ex, for what it's worth. On weekdays, I spend about 8 hours a day in the office, but that generally includes an hour for lunch and some goofing around with the office mates (so maybe about 6.5 hours are actually productive). When I come home, I typically work another 2 to 4 solidly productive hours. On weekends, I usually put in another 8 hours a day, but not all of those are productive. But that's just me. Amongst the hep-ex students at my school, the amount of working time varies greatly. I know those that barely sleep and work all of the time and others that admit that they don't do much in general unless they have a research meeting or conference coming up.

The time spent depends a lot on the individual student, their advisor and what their objectives are.

Goran15 wrote:I think that at least Sunday (and possibly Saturday) should be free. Is there a way to talk to have the weekends off but not come across as as lazy (if it turns out everyone else is working on weekends)?

A good advisor should recognize that students are responsible for their own work habits and know their own productivity limits. If your advisor is reasonable and you can show that you can get your stuff done in a timely manner, you won't seem lazy if you don't come in on weekends. However, when crunch time comes, you'll probably have to come in for a few weekends.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:47 pm

Goran15 wrote:I'd like to restart this topic as I have gotten the "we work 12 hours a day 7 days a week here." How much time do you spend in the lab? I think that at least Sunday (and possibly Saturday) should be free. Is there a way to talk to have the weekends off but not come across as as lazy (if it turns out everyone else is working on weekends)?


Experiment or theory? And large collaboration, or is your apparatus housed in-group?

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby grae313 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:15 pm

I recently met with a young professor who graduate from UCSB (experiment) in 4 years working 60 hours a week (12 hours a day, 5 days a week, no weekends). A big part of it is how focused and productive you are. New professors in experiment might want you to put in the long hours because they have to build their lab and get data fast if they want to get tenure, but most of the labs I've seen seem to understand that it's hard to be productive without time off every now and then. My adviser is seen as a slave-driver because she wants us to work 60 hours a week and come in on at least one weekend day.

Different fields, different departments, and different professors will each have different expectations for their group members and so this is going to vary greatly from place to place, but the poll results already in give a good general picture.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:49 pm

Different fields of physics have different limiting factors for the speed of progress. The ones that will make you work long hours are data analysis (any field, but especially HEP) and CME, since progress is limited by the amount of hours PhD's can get their grad students to work. Other fields are limited by other things (like time on a telescope, beam time, or clean room time). In these fields, you might have a few days of long hours, but the rest of the time you'll be more relaxed.

Even if you're in the work-hour limited fields, though, I'd set a limit related not to the expectations of the professor but rather to your natural work ability. Grad school hours are more like undergrad than a 9-5 job. You might have to come into work on weekends, but don't be one of those people who stay just to be seen around the lab. You'll be based on your results, so come in, work hard, then leave when you need a break (and don't be afraid to work at home; you would have in your undergrad years).

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:26 pm

TheBeast wrote:I spend about 8 hours a day in the office, but that generally includes an hour for lunch and some goofing around with the office mates (so maybe about 6.5 hours are actually productive). When I come home, I typically work another 2 to 4 solidly productive hours. On weekends, I usually put in another 8 hours a day, but not all of those are productive.


How in the world are you going to go to the nearby water park with a schedule like that?

-Riley

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby tady » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:00 pm

"Goofing around". Is that what you guys are calling it these days?

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby rolandgill » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:28 am

I have used more than 30hrs in week for researching my paper. So i could able to complete my PhD programs with in 3 years.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Goran15 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:32 am

bfollinprm wrote:
Goran15 wrote:I'd like to restart this topic as I have gotten the "we work 12 hours a day 7 days a week here." How much time do you spend in the lab? I think that at least Sunday (and possibly Saturday) should be free. Is there a way to talk to have the weekends off but not come across as as lazy (if it turns out everyone else is working on weekends)?


Experiment or theory? And large collaboration, or is your apparatus housed in-group?


CME, somewhat large group (by CME standards)

bfollinprm
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:07 am

If it's a large group with one instrument, you're probably instrument-limited (everyone needs their turn on the telescope). If you put your foot down and say no to working weekends, someone else will take that time. I'd be flexible and come in early instead, though...

TheBeast
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby TheBeast » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:53 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:How in the world are you going to go to the nearby water park with a schedule like that?

If there were bikini-clad beach babes in the vicinity, I would adjust my schedule accordingly.

TheBeast
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby TheBeast » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:01 pm

tady wrote:"Goofing around". Is that what you guys are calling it these days?

We prefer the terms "collaborative efforts" or "departmental synergy."

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HappyQuark
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:07 am

TheBeast wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:How in the world are you going to go to the nearby water park with a schedule like that?

If there were bikini-clad beach babes in the vicinity, I would adjust my schedule accordingly.


Fortunately, where I'm going there won't be anything to distract me from my studies

Image
Last edited by HappyQuark on Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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midwestphysics
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby midwestphysics » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:40 am

You might want to check some I.D.'s in that crowd :)



EDIT: Never mind, the picture switched, and now looking at it all I can say is screw I.D. you've got plausible deniability. 8)
Last edited by midwestphysics on Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Goran15
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Goran15 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:12 am

midwestphysics wrote:You might want to check some I.D.'s in that crowd :)


nah that would just ruin the mood :)

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:08 am

HappyQuark wrote:
TheBeast wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:How in the world are you going to go to the nearby water park with a schedule like that?

If there were bikini-clad beach babes in the vicinity, I would adjust my schedule accordingly.


Fortunately, where I'm going there won't be anything to distract me from my studies

Image


You know, it might be worth it to become CPR certified and hang around the beach more often.

-Riley

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InquilineKea
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:35 pm

Fortunately, where I'm going there won't be anything to distract me from my studies


Thank god I live in Seattle. If I went to UCLA, oh god. Seriously, how do people manage to TA undergrad classes at UCLA without getting horny all the time?
Last edited by InquilineKea on Sun May 01, 2011 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TheBeast
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby TheBeast » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:16 pm

InquilineKea wrote: Seriously, how do people manage to TA undergrad classes at UCLA without getting horny all the time?


Professionalism. Sexual harassment laws.

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Dorian_Mode
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby Dorian_Mode » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:42 pm

I thought any guy who made it though sixth grade knew how to deal with inappropriate horniness.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby quizivex » Sun May 01, 2011 2:03 pm

InquilineKea wrote:Seriously, how do people manage to TA undergrad classes at UCLA without getting horny all the time?
Well it depends what you're TA-ing... if it's an upper level physics class, there won't be a problem (no girls). If it's the physics 101 that all the bio/chem/premeds have to take, then you'll have to get a keg of canola oil and rub it out every morning.

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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby SSM » Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:37 am

quizivex wrote:Well it depends what you're TA-ing... if it's an upper level physics class, there won't be a problem (no girls). If it's the physics 101 that all the bio/chem/premeds have to take, then you'll have to get a keg of canola oil and rub it out every morning.


This one didn't need a reply, I just wanted to remind everyone how great it is.

asdfuogh
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby asdfuogh » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:42 pm

To be fair, there ARE girls in upper div physics classes at UCLA, just not the kind that would make you horny. Now, if you were a TA of the low level classes designed for pre-med students... well, don't wear tight pants.

bfollinprm
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:42 am

...and that comment is the reason why 10 girls who would have been in that upper-level physics course just decided to major in something else instead.

asdfuogh
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Re: How much time do you spend on school and research (PhD's)?

Postby asdfuogh » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:23 am

:/ I was just kidding. Smart girls are more attractive than dumb girls anyway.




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