Do you have a lab philosophy? By “lab philosopy”, I mean a formal, written philosophy that you share with lab members (and, perhaps, prospective lab members) that lays out what they can expect of you and what you expect of them? And, if you have one, is it online?
The most well done philosophy I’ve seen comes from the neuroscience lab of Kay Tye. She clearly put a lot of thought and effort into it, and it’s an impressive document. Some people may disagree with some of the specifics – indeed, there was lots of discussion on twitter about some of the specifics several months ago, and she appears to have updated it based on that dialogue. But, regardless of whether you agree with everything it says, it is clearly very good in terms of laying out a set of expectations for all members in the lab.
The discussion surrounding Tye’s philosophy statement, combined with emailing with prospective students for my lab, got me wondering if it would be useful to write up a philosophy statement for my lab. I tried finding ones online for ecologists, but couldn’t find any. (I did, however, find this information for prospective grad students on Andrew Read’s page, which is certainly a clear – and entertaining, in my opinion – statement of what he expects of his students.) A few people said on twitter that they have them (one of which is available via dropbox), but don’t have them posted on their webpage.
The challenge, of course, is that writing such a document is very difficult. Getting the content and tone correct would be really hard and take up a huge amount of time, I think. Instead, I’ve found that I end up pointing prospective students to some of my blog posts that address things that they ask about (this one on system-based research is probably the one I referred the most prospective students to this year; my post on the importance of working efficiently – rather than huge hours – might be one that comes up often in the future). Though my blog posts leave out other very important things that students should know before joining the lab, such as:
I would also need to include the most important lesson I teach people in my lab, which is that you should not hyphenate adverbs. Totally-unnecessary.😉
Does your lab have a formal, written lab philosophy? Is it shared online and/or with prospective lab members? Do you think there’s value in having a written lab philosophy? I’m especially interested in hearing from grad students and postdocs about whether they do/would find such a document valuable.