Most faculty who do experimental work begin their academic lives leading fairly small lab groups: perhaps two or three graduate students and a post-doc. A group of this size is fairly straightforward to manage and support. At this stage, faculty are often physically present in the lab – working side-by-side with students – and it is relatively easy to know when there are issues with group dynamics, or when a particular member of the group is having difficulty or problems.
In addition, in these early stages, the lines of communication between the PI and their mentees, as well as those between other group members, are often fairly direct. However, as PIs build successful careers, their research often diversifies, and their lab groups grow. Often the old models for successful mentoring, management, and communication may not be quite so effective, and new, more relevant models may not be quite so obvious.
Building on our successful Facilitating Effective Research (FER) workshop, we have developed an new three-hour workshop for individual research groups that addresses:
- Effectively communicating each individual’s mentoring and advising expectations (for mentors and mentees);
- Standardizing and articulating expectations regarding research and work logistics;
- Giving and receiving professional criticism;
- Strategies for keeping lines of communication open;
- Planning research projects (for one’s self and others): defining the scope, goals, and achieving those goals.
To help participants apply some of these ideas and strategies in their day-to-day activities, participants analyze and discuss a variety of hypothetical scenarios, and consider the pros and cons of particular actions and behaviors. Obviously, each research group is different, and each group has specific needs and concerns. TLL staff are happy to work with MIT lab groups and researchers to tailor workshops in order to fit each group’s individual needs and interests. Please contact us if you would like additional information or if you would like to discuss a workshop for your group at MIT.
(“Dog and Cat” from Janet Rankin / cc by-nc-sa)