Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Lab Handbook

A colleague of mine has developed a Lab Handbook to outline how to write papers, prepare presentations, make up graphs, etc. so that the group is all on common ground. Given that no one in my group is using spell check or citing papers for their manuscripts, I think it is appropriate to make up my own Lab Handbook. My intention is to outline the lab standards and to streamline communications between myself and lab members.

My Lab Handbook will have the following sections, but I'm looking for more. Please send suggestions.

1. How to Write a Manuscript or Thesis
2. How to Prepare and Give a Presentation
3. Standard Lab Practices for Preparing Our Samples
4. Your Suggestion Here

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I hope it works. One of the toughest things I found as a grad student and post doc was figuring out what the PI wanted. Now as a PI I know I need to give more direction to my students about preparing presentations, manuscripts, etc.

Arlenna said...

My lab has a password-protected wiki website with various handbook posts. It has guides for writing reports to me, fellowship proposals, common lab protocols, journal club information, various lab resource links and documents, and project areas for people to use like a lab notebook.

An important (to me) feature: a detailed outline discussion of my expectations for lab members. Laying down the ground rules for how to behave, work, keep research records etc. in my group. Including the statement that failure to live up to these expectations might result in being terminated/asked to leave.

Anonymous said...

We had all our lab protocols in a notebook on the lab bookshelf. Also, instructions for ordering supplies, checking out things from the department, and renting vehicles.

Genomic Repairman said...

A section on lab safety and use/location of PPE in the lab wouldn't be too bad. Another thing that would be fun, the history of your lab and a list of members in the back. As far as writing, have a list of phrases or words that tick you off when you see them in a manuscript. We also have a lab duties list with ours so everyone knows what everyone else is responsible for and who to talk to when stuff breaks.

Patchi said...

In my previous postdoc lab they had a protocol book with all the common lab protocols including safety guidelines, which was very useful.

You should also include a section on lab notebooks. Having gone through some awful ones recently I can tell you that many students do not know how too record their methods.

Another thing I liked in my previous lab was that all experiments were numbered and figures and files on the common computer had to be labeled with the experiment number for easy reference to the notebooks. Works great for biochem experiments, but might not work for you.

Anonymous said...

How to design a poster! (possibly including template)

Anonymous said...

Great idea, but shift the burden off of yourself and have students and postdocs write drafts for your editing.

Yael said...

My former PI gave all her labmates a template on "how to fill out a lab notebook". After reading too many chaotic lab notebooks, I found this eminently sensible (notebooks from her group were easier to read too).

Anonymous said...

I would add a list of relevant grants (along with some basic info and usual deadline) and relevant meetings

Yael said...

I meant "lab members" not labmates. My bad.

New Asst. Prof. said...

All of the above have been great suggestions! I'd include a sub-section within your instructions for preparing a presentation that details how you want figures mocked up and raw, un-edited images stored: how X experiment should be graphed in Y fashion, where raw vs. normalized data are most appropriate, SD vs. SEM, how to label in Photoshop...I could go on!

OverEngineered said...

Perhaps a list of important papers in the field, a list of conferences and their approximate submission deadlines, and a checklist for getting new people up to speed with any safety training or administrative stuff.

nightsongfire said...

An inventory, complete with a unique identification code or number (like a barcode) for every single thing you can reasonably do that to AND the info to reorder said item. Obviously not items like gloves or sharpies but chemicals, kits, cell lines, stuff like that. You never know when someone will go on vacation and a freezer goes out and you're SOL until that person comes back.
And tell people that have to include that info in their lab notebooks.