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Working together with others in your lab

Working together with others in your lab

Labs are shared spaces – often several groups are based within one lab.Within a single research project and throughout your career you will work with lots of people (supervisors, post-docs, research technicians, lab managers, other research students, undergraduates etc.) Team-work is an essential component of research.

  • Joining a new research group can be intimidating at first. Get to know your new colleagues – find out about their research, take part in the lab group socials etc.
  • Accept that when you start your scientific knowledge will be inferior to theirs and everything will be unfamiliar. Ask for help and work hard to earn your colleagues’ trust and respect. Offer help in return - your clinical expertise is an asset and may be useful to your colleagues.
  • Be aware that scientists and clinicians sometimes have different priorities and pressures . Do not compete with your colleagues, work together.

Your role will change as you become more senior (transitioning from student to leader).Never forget what it felt like when you first started : show kindness and patience to those more junior.

When leading a project (e.g. supervising project work undertaken by undergraduates or working with research technicians):

  • start by finding out their background and expertise - they may have more experience of a methodology than you
  • explain the project and rationale
  • encourage an open dialogue, so that they feel able to suggest ideas and report problems
  • determine who will take responsibility for different aspects of the project (e.g. ordering consumables)
  • establish ground-rules (e.g. notification of absence if this will affect sample processing)
  • determine if any training needs to be undertaken
  • write a clear protocol
  • create a shared research folder
  • create a shared spreadsheet to record results
  • consider validating/quality assuring a subset of their work
  • arrange regular review meetings (both informal and formal), allowing them to share their ideas/concerns/feedback about the project and update you e.g. regarding timelines, consumables which are running low etc.
  • ensure their contribution to the work is acknowledged in lab meetings/posters/publications
  • update your CV to include this supervision