Welcome to Science Lab Life…

…the blog for researchers and scientists who lead a team, group, or lab!

If you’re visiting for the first time, get an overview on the “Start here” page.

If you’re here for the Research Group Leader Book Project, you can jump right over.

Latest posts

Looking back and ahead together – lab evaluation and planning 2015-12-08

Work never stops, does it. All the more it’s important to remember to step back and look at the big picture regularly. The end of a year is a good time to look back and evaluate events and developments. And, of course, it’s a good time to talk about what’s coming next. Here, I make …

Initiating, planning, and running collaborations 2015-11-15

Collaborations are everywhere in research. They are the Number One way to import methods and expertise into your research group, and to export your own knowledge to help others go new ways.. They also give your team members additional training opportunities. So today’s post is all about initiating, planning, maintaining, and quitting collaborations – both …

Debriefing: two questions to ask when it’s all done 2015-11-10

Most of the time, I’m more than glad when a project is all done and written up. Research projects can have this tendency to take too long and require a lot of breath towards their end. In a hurry to get it over with, it’s easy to forget to look back and evaluate what went …

Teaching peer review 2015-11-06

Peer review is the horror of many a PhD student who submits his or her first paper. Seeing their colleagues’ frustrations and hearing about impossible reviews nurtures a fear that painstaking work will be crushed by that one email from the editor. Therefore, a PhD’s first submission shouldn’t be the first time they come in …

Signed peer review 2015-11-03

Today I’ve posted over at my Lab’s blog about signing peer reviews. Head on over to http://reachtouchlab.com/experiences-with-signing-peer-reviews to read & comment. I’ll continue about peer review in a post here at Science Lab Life later this week about teaching peer review to students. Photo credit: Hammer51012 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Providing light posts along the dark path of the PhD: evaluation meetings 2015-10-27

Remember your own PhD? Ever felt lost and wished someone had told you where it’s going? While you probably can’t avoid that your PhDs will be frustrated at times, you can do a lot to help them stay on track. Regular evaluation meetings make recent progress explicit and map out what to focus on beyond …

I’ll be back shortly… 2015-09-15

Time to take a break! I’ll be stretching out my legs on the beach. During that time, I’m pausing work on my book and blog. Check back in October, or sign up for my mailing list, and you’ll be notified the next time I publish content here. See you around! In the meantime, take a …

Work-life balance and the sense of significance 2015-09-13

I’ve spent a frantic week of trying to get things done before going on vacation. It’s reminded me that work-life balance doesn’t come easy. I don’t know about you. I have this tendency to think that, before I go on a vacation, I should finish as much as possible. The result usually is that by …

Hiring Part IV: Making your decision 2015-09-04

We’ve looked at preparing and getting clear on who you need to hire; at sifting through applications; and at the candidate interview. Today, we’ll turn to the final steps: checking references and making the decision. This post is part of the open draft for the Research Group Leader Book [about] [read more] Overview: Post I …

Thinking together: pooling the team’s ideas for cooler research 2015-09-01

A report about an ongoing attempt to change the flow of coming up with research ideas. In this post, I’ll share about how we’re experimenting with being creative in the lab. Typical ways to develop new work programs In the past, I’ve experienced mainly two ways of how new research programs were developed in science …

The rule of 3 and 10: group life still working? 2015-08-28

Humans like routine. Group life is no different. Before you know it, things just “go like that”, “work that way”, and “have always been like this”. Of course, routines break all the time. The rule of 3 and 10 predicts that routines stop working when the number of group members changes. But even if it …

Hiring Part III: The candidate’s visit – job talk and interview 2015-08-25

The candidate’s visit to your lab is the most important step in the hiring process. Yet, it’s all but easy to be the interviewer, and it can feel just as daunting to be on the hiring side as to be the applicant. In today’s post, the third of four on hiring, we’ll look at each …

Hiring Part II: From applications to interview 2015-08-21

In this second of four posts on hiring for your research group, I cover how to communicate with your applicants, and how to choose who you should invite. This post is part of the open draft for the Research Group Leader Book [about] [read more] Post updated 2015-08-24: added screening interview, revised para on calling …

Hiring Part I: Getting ready 2015-08-18

The success of your research group stands and falls with the people you hire. If you have great people, you’ll love your work, and your project will prosper. On the other hand, hiring the wrong person can make your life as group leader abominably difficult and, ultimately, make (parts of) your research project die. Good …

Eight productivity tips to free up your time 2015-08-14

There’s always too much to do. Then again, we’re often caught up in things that eat up our time but aren’t really productive. The internet is full of tips and tricks. I’ve boiled them down to these eight items.

Evernote Hacks V: Using Evernote for teaching 2015-08-11

Evernote is not only great for personal note-taking and organization. Because notes and notebooks can be shared, Evernote is also great for collaboration in teaching. This post looks at some use cases. This post is part of my Evernote Hacks series – check out the other posts! There are many online tools to provide materials …

Four common mistakes in delegation 2015-08-07

Delegating can be the Number One time saver, but it does have its traps. Even after several years of heading my group, there is still lots of space for improvement for me. Here, I’ll cover how you can avoid four common mistakes with delegating. Let’s make life just a little easier… This post is part …

4 ways to continually improve your team’s scientific writing skills 2015-08-05

Writing well is a continuous challenge. It’s even more difficult when writing in a non-native language. Although I’ve been writing papers for more than 10 years, I am still learning how to write better with every paper I read or write. I figure, there’s all the more to teach the students I work with. Many …

Book: Getting Results the Agile Way by JD Meier 2015-08-03

There’s always room to improve productivity. Whereas Getting Things Done by David Allen is probably the most well-known productivity system, there’s been some buzz about JD Meier’s system, Agile Results. Let’s take a look.< !—more–> At first, a word about the reading experience: it’s horrible. In a short sentence, the book has great content (so …

Are you available to your team? 2015-08-02

When your group grows, two trends make being available to the team more difficult: you are more often gone from the lab, and an increasing number of team members multiplies the requests for your time. It can be difficult to find the balance between making yourself available, following your calendar, and getting your own stuff …

Evernote Hacks IV: Saving things to Evernote on the go with Drafts 2015-07-21

Evernote is great to remember everything. In my previous Evernote Hacks post, I showed how to set up Evernote as a complete Todo/Getting Things Done system. One of David Allen’s GTD principles is to always be ready to write down what comes to mind. Here, we’ll set up iPhone and iPad with the Drafts app …