Book Project Posts

book project

Found this page and don’t know what the Book Project is? Read about the idea and about how it’s organized.

Stuff is listed here in the order I write it. Posts get a new date when I’ve revised their content (but not if I’ve fixed small stuff like typos, grammar, and wording).

If you’d like to look for posts sorted by topic, see the Table of Contents.

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Looking back and ahead together – lab evaluation and planning


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


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


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


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 …

Providing light posts along the dark path of the PhD: evaluation meetings


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 …

Hiring Part IV: Making your decision


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 …

Hiring Part III: The candidate’s visit – job talk and interview


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


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


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


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.

Four common mistakes in delegation


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


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 …

Are you available to your team?


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 …

Remove yourself: start leading, stop micro-managing


When you were a PhD and Postdoc, you became an expert for the scientific methods you used for your research. Stepping up the career ladder as a group leader, you use your hands-on scientific expertise less and less, and your work is dominated by conceptual planning and team leadership. I’ve said before that the step …

Starting in a new place with new funding: what should be on your list


If you’ve just received grant money to set up a research group in a new place, or have been offered a leading position or professorship, there’s a myriad of things to make sure, check, negotiate and set up. Check this list to make sure you’ve got everything covered. I’m trying to make this an extensive …

Conference presentations: Does your team represent your group the way you think?


Years ago, at a conference, I visited a poster with a promising title. The student who stood by it was visibly uncomfortable and started her poster presentation with the words: “Actually, everything we tried didn’t work, but I can walk you through the poster anyway, if you want.” Mmmmh. No thanks. Until this day, I …

Three ways to make sure knowledge stays in your group


I had a shocking experience recently. Within a week, my three PhD students all told me that they were thinking of leaving the group and going elsewhere when they’re done. Who’s going to do their work? And how?? When you started your group, things probably developed somewhat “naturally”. Without really planning for it, your group develops …

The scientist as an entrepreneur


In this post, I’ll suggest that as science leaders, we should view ourselves as business owners. Weird? Yuck? Read on… For many of us, the decision for science was, at the same time, a decision against going into the business world. And yet, we experience all the time that many business aspects leak into our science …

Education discounts: save money almost everywhere


You can save quite some money by claiming discounts that are often announced only in small print and in hidden places on websites, and sometimes negotiate even better prices for many products and services you use. As researchers, our funding is usually tight, especially when the group is still young, funded maybe by just a single grant. It’s often not …

Introducing the Research Group Leader Book Project


Join in, share your ideas and experiences, and give your feedback on my book in progress about leading a science lab. When I started my own research group, I often didn’t know what step should come first, or next. And I had quite a few situations in which I thought: “…if only I had known …

The trouble is… (or: why this blog exists)


It’s a long road. Here’s how it all started, and why I’d like for you to come along. Welcome to ScienceLabLife, my blog about leading, supervising, and managing a research team, group, or lab. How I got here… If you’re a researcher or scientist who leads a team or group, chances are that the reason …