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  • 3. © 2009 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund ACKNOWLEDGMENTSAll rights reserved. The course on which this manual is based was conceived and driven by Maryrose Franko (HowardPermission to use, copy, and distribute this manual or Hughes Medical Institute) and the late and much-excerpts from this manual is granted provided that (1) missed Martin Ionescu-Pioggia (BWF), and this bookthe copyright notice above appears in all reproductions; owes much to—and draws from—the manual produced(2) use is for noncommercial educational purposes from that course, Making the Right Moves: A Practicalonly; (3) the manual or excerpts are not modified in any Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs andway; and (4) no figures or graphic images are used, New Faculty. We are grateful to the team which builtcopied, or distributed separate from accompanying the earlier manual and to HHMI for making it easy fortext. Requests beyond that scope should be directed us to move ahead with Excellence Thank you to the scientists who are quoted through-Some parts of Excellence Everywhere are taken directly out this book. They have provided personal insightsfrom Making the Right Moves. and frank comments without which this book wouldThe views expressed in this publication are those of its be much diminished. Many, many other researcherscontributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of from around the world—too many to list- providedthe Burroughs Wellcome Fund. informal input and critical reading of drafts, and we thank them all for their time and for helping us makeThis manual is also available online at this manual a resource worth Thanks especially to patient colleagues Jill ConleyProject Developer: Victoria McGovern, Ph.D. and Maryrose Franko at the Howard Hughes MedicalEditor: Russ Campbell Institute and Barbara Sina at the Fogarty InternationalDesigner: Liaison Design Group Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health forCopyeditor: Ernie Hood their long term encouragement, support, and helpBurroughs Wellcome Fund over the course of this project, and to HHMI editor21 T.W. Alexander Drive Pat Davenport for helpful comments throughout theP.O. Box 13901 process. Thanks to HHMI and to the Wellcome TrustResearch Triangle Park, NC 27709-3901 for access to their international awardee networks, and to Jimmy Whitworth and Pat Goodwin at the Wellcome Trust for helpful discussions. Thanks to science writers Heather B. McDonald and Christopher Thomas Scott, who provided some additional writing. Appreciation to Queta Bond, president emeritus now of BWF, who has been a great supporter of this work. Finally, deep gratitude to Dan Colley, Stephanie James, and Michael Gottlieb, who on seeing the U.S.-focused Making the Right Moves in 2005 told us “You need to make one of these for the rest of the world.” Who can resist such good advice from such wise people?
  • 4. TABLE OF CONTENTSVII PREFACE 33 CHAPTER 3 GETTING STARTED: 1 CHAPTER 1 EQUIPPING YOUR LAB GETTING STARTED: AND HIRING PEOPLE FINDING AND MOVING 33 Designing and Equipping INTO A JOB Your New Lab 2 The Job Search 33 Putting the People You Need In Place 6 The Job Application 38 Interviewing Applicants 8 The Job Interview 40 Evaluating Applicants 14 Negotiating Your Position 41 Making the Offer 18 Resources 42 Asking Staff to Leave19 CHAPTER 2 44 Resources ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS 45 CHAPTER 4 A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB MANAGING YOUR 20 People You Should Get to Know MANY ROLES 21 Support Facilities and Services 46 Your Role as a Laboratory Leader 24 Working with Human Subjects 47 Developing Leadership Skills 26 Responsibilities Beyond the Laboratory 48 How to Improve Your Leadership Skills 27 Scientists and the Outside World 50 Creating Your Vision as a Leader 28 Understanding Your Institution and How to Progress Within It 51 Developing Your Leadership Style 32 Resources TABLE OF CONTENTS III
  • 5. 53 Building and Sustaining an 97 CHAPTER 7 Effective Team GETTING FUNDED 54 Good Practice for Laboratory 97 Understanding the Review Process Notebooks 100 Preparing a Strong Grant Application 61 Making Decisions 106 Resources 62 Setting and Communicating Rules of Behavior for Members of 107 CHAPTER 8 Your Laboratory TEACHING AND 65 Keeping Lab Members Motivated COURSE DESIGN 67 Managing Conflict in the Lab 107 Why Teach Well? 70 Resources 109 Becoming an Effective Teacher 110 The Principles of Active Learning71 CHAPTER 5 MANAGING YOUR TIME 114 Developing Examination Questions 72 Strategies for Planning Your Activities 115 Course Design 74 Making Choices 117 Teaching Others to Teach 74 Managing Your Time Day-to-Day 118 Time Management When Balancing Teaching and Research 76 Making the Most of the Time You Have 119 The Teaching Portfolio 77 Managing Non-Research Tasks 120 Resources 79 Family Matters 80 Resources 121 CHAPTER 9 INCREASING YOUR IMPACT:81 CHAPTER 6 GETTING PUBLISHED PROJECT MANAGEMENT 121 Understanding Publishing 82 Deciding on a Project 127 Writing Your Paper 84 Getting Started 129 Submitting Your Paper 87 Tools for Developing Schedules 132 Publishing Honestly 90 Controlling the Project 133 Promoting Your Work 91 Resources 134 ResourcesIV EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 6. 135 CHAPTER 10 157 CHAPTER 12 EXPANDING YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFLUENCE: TRAINING 157 Understanding Intellectual THE NEXT GENERATION Property Rights OF SCIENTISTS 160 Intellectual Property in a Global 135 Training Others Environment 139 Strategies for Effective Training 163 Case Studies 140 Different Needs at Different Stages 166 Resources 143 How to Get the Career Help and Advice That You Need 167 CHAPTER 13 MOVING MATERIALS 144 Resources AND EQUIPMENT 144 When Mentoring, Advisory, or 168 Regulations and Relevant Supervisory Relationships are not Organizations working out 169 Appropriate Packaging145 CHAPTER 11 170 Important Issues and Practical Advice COLLABORATION 172 Service and Maintenance 145 The Collaborative Effort 174 Responsibility for Materials 148 Setting up a Collaboration 174 Animals and Plants 151 The Ingredients of a Successful Collaboration 174 Physical Challenges to Shipping Materials Long Distances 152 Dealing with Authorship and Intellectual Property Issues 176 Resources 154 Special Challenges for the Beginning Investigator 177 APPENDIX 155 When a Collaboration is Not Working 156 Resources TABLE OF CONTENTS V
  • 8. PREFACELaunching a scientific career is difficult. Success so like an enzyme we hope to pick a good spotas a scientist will depend on many things—from from which to bring things into line so that theintelligence and creativity to luck; from being a barriers to activation can be reduced.good team player to being an independent thinker Several years ago, we asked our awardees whoand driver of your own work; from bringing out were just starting faculty careers in the Unitedthe best in the people with whom you work to States and Canada to think about how we couldbeing an accurate and respected authority whose help them better. What we heard back from themfairness and good ideas are known to other surprised us—they did not ask for more moneyresearchers, research organizations, and perhaps or more scientific resources. Instead, they askedgovernments. At the top in research, people us for help in understanding how to succeed atalmost universally want the same things: to be many activities—managing people, getting grants,excellent scientists, to do their best work, and to spreading one’s reputation, and more—that aresee good things come of it. Integrity is at the core critical for scientific success and are not taught atof a good career, everywhere. A successful career the science pays off by advancing knowledge, andoften by helping to make the world a healthier or Their replies stirred us to action. The Burroughseasier place, by earning one the respect of other Wellcome Fund teamed up with the Howardscientists, and by providing new opportunities to Hughes Medical Institute, another research-do good work and share in a better life. supporting organization that, like us, is interested in what it takes to make a good career greatThe Burroughs Wellcome Fund is proud to support and a great career magnificent. Together wemany excellent life scientists during the early part put together a short course for our early-careerof their careers. Although we are a research funder, awardees. The response to the course was soour focus is actually not just on the research strongly positive that we put together a book tobut also on the scientists who carry it out. Put make the material covered in the course availablesimply, we look for the best young scientists and to a broader audience.then invest our resources to help them reachnew levels of excellence. We believe that giving When BWF’s awardees and advisors who workscientists room for creativity, for taking risks, and in other parts of the world saw it, they said thatfor moving their interests between fields to look at this information was needed far beyond Northexisting problems in new ways is a strategy that America, the region in which we make almostproduces a catalytic effect. Foundations are fairly all of our grants. So we set about making thissmall in the overall scheme of scientific funding, material relevant to scientists starting careers PREFACE VII
  • 9. outside our region. This volume focuses on starting these will help you feel that you are in kinship andcareers in the emerging scientific communities in in conversation with these scientists, even thoughthe South—the low- and middle-resource regions they may be far from you.of the tropics and sub-tropics. It would be impossible to create a book that fits theThe material here features insights from researchers experiences of researchers in every place wherein Africa and South and Central America, and we science is expanding and new opportunities arehope it may be useful to those in other regions as arising for young researchers. But the material inwell. this book is “open source.” If you are in an institu- tion, organization, or government that is interestedThe work on re-interpreting this material for in custom-tailoring our laboratory managementscientists in many other countries has taken place resources to use in your own country or region,in several phases. It began with asking North we are glad to hear it.American researchers who work closely withinvestigators and field sites in the South to provide Science is an international endeavor. Wherever itcommentary on parts of the original book that were is done, it connects us to the scientists, scholars,especially “North Americo-centric.” Next, a number and philosophers of the past and the future. Ourof researchers from the South, but working in the work as a scientific community can make humanU.S., were asked for their ideas. Then BWF staff lives better, healthier, and longer, and can improvesent the revised material to researchers who the economies of nations, regions, and the world.have established their careers in South America, To be a scientist is both a privilege and a passion.Central America, and Africa and asked for both their We hope the insights in this book will help youcritiques and corrections and, more importantly, for build a career where you consistently aim higher,stories from their own early experiences in starting reach farther, and perform even better than youresearch careers. Their comments and thoughts may have thought would be your best.are found throughout the book. We hope that John E. Burris, Ph.D. President Burroughs Wellcome Fund Victoria McGovern, Ph.D. Senior Program Officer Burroughs Wellcome Fund VIII EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 10. CHAPTER 1 GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB“ LA CIENCIA NO TIENE PATRIA PERO EL HOMBRE DE CIENCIA SÍ LA TIENE. ” BERNARDO HOUSSAY As you complete your scientific training and will become program coordinators or managers of prepare to move forward into a position of greater complex partnerships, while experienced people scientific and often managerial responsibility, you with PhDs will more commonly lead one or a are probably starting to think about the next step group of research programs. It is a good idea to in your research career. For some of you, this be familiar with what kinds of jobs and responsi- may mean a position as the head of a laboratory bilities generally go with the degree you have in at a university or as a researcher in an industry or the place where you will work. government laboratory. For others, it may mean The process of obtaining a research appointment working more independently than during your varies greatly from country to country and from training, but still under another scientist or official’s situation to situation. This chapter will provide authority. You may have lined up a job even before some general advice and strategies to help you starting your training or you may have to embark find the type of job that suits your ambitions and on a job search, perhaps with little idea of how to goals. If you will be moving to a new position in begin. You may have completed your training in the same institution or department or into a job the same country where you hope to find perma- that has been held for you, you may not need to nent employment, or you may be returning to your carry out a job search. Still, this chapter may home country after having trained elsewhere. provide some insight into how to make sure you This book focuses on scientists with doctoral and your institution—whether it is a university, degrees, but there are several levels of training research institute, clinic, or government—have the for professional scientists, and in many countries same expectations as you begin a new phase of there are jobs at each of these levels that can your career. That insight will help even if you find lead to positions of power and responsibility. For yourself in a totally different country, neither your example, in many places people who hold the own nor the one where you trained, but where MPhil or MSc degree and have relevant experience you may have secured a job or hope to find a job. The quote above: Houssay, referring to a famous quote by Pasteur, reflects that while science itself has no country, scientists do. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 1
  • 11. As you start your job search or prepare to move There are no universally correct answers to theseinto new responsibilities, you will confront a series questions, but this chapter will raise some thingsof challenging questions: to consider as you look for your own answers. What do I want and need from my scientific work? What do I want and need from a job? THE JOB SEARCH If a job is being held for me, is it still the next job I If you need to find a job, make your search a want, and one that makes sense for me? concentrated effort. Ideally, doing so may bring multiple offers your way at about the same time. How has time away affected my standing at an Even if resources and opportunities in the region institution to which I might return? where you will work are scarce, still try to enter What will my career progression be like if I return the search mindful that you have choices and to this institute? opportunities, and that you are bringing something excellent—yourself!—to your potential employer. If I find I have more than one opportunity in front Making the job hunt a focused and dedicated of me, how will I chose between them? effort also makes the labor-intensive process of How can I ensure that my achievements and gathering your credentials and references much capabilities, which may have been developed far more productive. from where I want to work, will be recognized? If you have your heart set on getting one specific If I have more than one job offer, how will I choose? job, it may still be useful to think through other How can I ensure that the resources I need to possibilities. As you think more broadly, you may launch my career and succeed as a researcher are find that many different possible futures are made available to me? available to you. You may still love the job that was your original favorite, but also find some How can my skills and knowledge be used to other ways forward that will allow you to develop address the needs and opportunities in the contingency plans in case the preferred job does institution and position in which I will work? not work out. There are many reasons an excellentMost people also confront a very basic question: candidate may not be selected for what seems like “the perfect job,” including personalities not How do I go about finding a job? quite fitting, funding being cut, and governments changing directions. WHILE YOU ARE STILL IN TRAINING If you know that you will train abroad for a few years and then return to your home country, you can help pave the way for your future job search by forming an informal advisory group of past teachers and advisors, young scientists who are slightly senior to you and who will enter jobs while you are finishing your training, and any friends and relatives who may have useful knowledge of the scientific job market which you plan to enter. Keep these advisors informed of your scientific and career progress while you are gone so that in a few years, when it is time to begin moving toward a long-term position, you have some allies in your own country keeping you in mind and watching out for job opportunities that may fit you. Meanwhile, if you are training in a wealthy country, be on the lookout for re-entry grant funds, which are available from a number of agencies. These modest grants are meant to help you successfully establish your research project when you return to your own country. 2 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 12. KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT The concept of job-hunting does not apply exactly in the scientific activity in my country. In your job search, you will have a greater chance Apart from the very few companies that may of finding a job that fits you well if you have your offer jobs for scientists (really negligible), most own needs and wants firmly in mind. Career scientists start their careers as investigators of options in specific countries and regions will vary the CONICET and/or as teacher/professors at greatly, and the choices you make will be very public universities. In both cases the most criti- dependent on the nature of scientific careers in the cal issue is to find the lab/institute or university place you plan to work. In some places, universities department where to work, and only then one will be the principal and perhaps only settings for applies. The position is obtained through open research. Elsewhere, research may be concentrated contests where there is not a personalized job in government facilities or in research institutes. offer but a peer review analysis of your CV, Whatever opportunities are available, you should your work plan, and the institution you chose. consider the following questions: In the case of universities, a contest includes a public lecture, and the analysis of previous Do you need to be working at the “top” ” teaching activity, all assessed by a jury. institution to achieve your goals as a scientist, or would an excellent but less competition-driven institution be acceptable or even preferable, Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentina given your personality, talents, ambitions, and commitments? Do you want to devote yourself exclusively toEven if a position is being held for you or you are research, or would you prefer some combinationmoving on to a new role in your current institution of research and teaching, consulting, governmentwithout a formal job search, it can still be worth- service, or clinical practice?while to set aside some time to put together yourcurriculum vitae (CV) as you are finishing up your Do you prefer an urban, rural, or suburban location?training. The CV is the professional passport for Will personal responsibilities or the professionalscientists, and it is a document you should always needs of other family members set limits on whatbe ready to produce on request. You should also you might do or where you might live?make contact with those involved in your trainingand others who will be preparing letters of If you are a physician-scientist, will you want torecommendation for you, to let them know that see patients? How much time will you want toyou are about to move on to a new stage in your devote to research versus clinical practice? If youcareer. Sending a copy of your newly-updated CV are rarely in the clinic, how will you make the timeto these individuals will help them remember your to keep your clinical credentials (licenses, etc.) upexperiences and goals and will show them the to date?progress you have made. This will help them write Is the timing right? Have you finished what youtheir strongest letters of recommendation with hoped to accomplish in your training? Are you readyscientific specifics, rather than just statements to succeed at the job you are considering?about their own relationships with you and yourgood character. In some cases, one has to start with whatever is available so as to be able to feed your family or to look after your parents. As long as you are passionate about science and have your goals clear, you will eventually find ” your way back to science. Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 3
  • 13. LEARNING WHAT JOBS ARE AVAILABLE Often, we ‘create’ our job by what we bringReliable formal and informal sources of information to the opportunity, including our perspectiveto find out about available jobs include: of the position and setting. Where some see ” Informal discussions with current and former problems, others perceive opportunity. colleagues—for example, the supervisor of your current training, other scientists with whom you Nancy Gore Saravia, Colombia have a relationship (especially those with whom you have collaborated), teachers from your under- graduate education, government officials and civil Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and other servants you may know, and your peers. If you wide-reaching international organizations. are doing part of your training in a different country from where you will seek permanent employment, Web sites of academic institutions, particularly it is critically important to keep in contact with university Web sites, and of research institutes, a broad array of people back home, not just family as well the ministry of education or equivalent and your closest friends, so that you can find out government body in your country. about job opportunities or changes to a position Employment bulletins published by professional you have been promised in advance. associations. Job announcement letters sent to your department List serves for researchers, including technical or your professional society. ones focused on your scientific interests and Announcements (print and online) in major those of multinational organizations such as the scientific journals such as Cell, Science, and Nature World Health Organization. and in publications devoted to your subspecialty. Major radio stations and selected newspapers Advertisements in local scientific and medical (announcing jobs this way is a legal requirement journals. in some countries). Advertisements in national and regional newspapers and international magazines. The NARROWING YOUR SEARCH Economist frequently carries advertisements for jobs (mostly not research-oriented but requiring Job offers in your country may be scarce. If so, scientific knowledge) at Non-Governmental you should consider every opportunity that is at Organizations (NGOs), Quasi-Autonomous the appropriate level and involves the kind of work Non-Government Organizations (QANGOs), you would like to do. But many readers will be able A FEW CAREER-RELATED WEB SITES FOR SCIENTISTS Nature magazine’s Nature Jobs ( Web site advertises jobs around the world and has a useful feature for focusing on jobs in your region of interest. Science magazine’s Web site ( contains a career development resource for postdocs and beginning faculty. This site is primarily focused on American scientists, with some European content, but some of the advice will apply to scientists in other countries. While jobs advertised on these sites and in these magazines are mostly in countries with larger research economies, both magazines take an international view and are adding new content and new job opportunities from additional countries as time goes by. 4 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 14. QUESTION q&a What Is a “Tenure-Track” Job? ANSWER In Nature, Science, and frequently in career discussions you will encounter the term “tenure-track.” In some countries, a faculty member hired in a tenure-track position will work for several years before a formal decision is made on whether tenure—something approximating lifetime job security—will be granted. If tenure is not granted, the investigator is typically asked to leave so that someone else can fill the tenure- track spot. In most institutions that use this system, a tenured professor cannot be fired, except for certain limited causes such as gross misconduct or neglect of duty. However, gaining tenure is not an easy way to convert one’s job into a sinecure. At many tenure-granting institutions, chronically unproductive faculty will lose their research space and much of their salary support until not much more than the professorial title remains. Some career opportunities and funding programs require that an investigator have a “tenure-track” or equivalent position. That is because such a position is expected to include dedicated research space, intellectual independence (meaning that you are the driver of your own research program), and—perhaps most importantly—your institution’s clear statement that it is committed to your long-term career success and that you are part of the institution’s plans for its own future. The important thing about a tenure-track position is not that someone has offered you a job for life, but rather that your position and your institution’s commitment to you are stable enough for you to be a researcher not only today but also far into the future. Letters of nomination or recommendation from your institution should highlight this long-term commitment to your research, in addition to commenting on your science and the personal qualities that make you an excellent scientist, if your position has a similar level of stability. In some places, a model much like that of the French system INSERM prevails—investigators who become part of the government-sponsored research system are very secure. Some government institutions will hire researchers for a short probationary period during which they must show they will do well in the job, and then will move them into a permanent and very secure find several job offerings that fit well and shouldbe considered. Once you have a list of possible I know of no positions (with one exception)job opportunities, compare the advantages and in Argentina that have been advertised. Indisadvantages of the various jobs against your list Argentina it is mostly the other way around,of priorities. Find out about: with some minor exceptions—it is not the institutions that go looking for applicants, but The parameters and expectations of the position. former students that want to come back and The department’s reputation, mission, research knock at the door of every institution looking ” activities, curriculum, and collegial atmosphere. for some lab space. The institution’s quality, mission, values, and political and social climate. Belen Elgoyhen,ArgentinaThere is no easy way to determine how manypositions you should apply for. If you work in aplace where there are many jobs open at the GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 5
  • 15. same time, or are considering jobs in more than explanation that you were unaware of the positionone country or region, you may put in several job before the deadline. Many institutions are willingapplications at once. That may seem unnecessary, to consider late applications, and most will bebut remember that job hunting has valuable delighted to see your application if you arespin-offs. For example, if more than one place is particularly well-suited for the position available.interested in you, you may get more chances to Putting Together Your CV. Most job applicationsmake presentations about your work. Your ideas require you to submit a CV along with your applica-are sharpened by organizing your thoughts and tion. Typically, this career summary should contain:making presentations, and your research itself willbenefit from this outwardly directed thinking.When Your name, address, and telephone pull together your work for presentation, you All higher education, with degrees obtainedare practicing skills you will use throughout your and You also get better at all parts of the pro-cess as you go along. Your self-confidence builds, All professional positions held, with dates andand your sense of what you want develops as you brief descriptions of the work performed.are introduced to various research environments. Awards and honors, including pre- andHowever, unless jobs are extremely scarce in the postdoctoral where you most want to work, do not apply Membership in national, regional, andfor a scientific job for which you are clearly not international scientific and professional societies.qualified, whether it is beyond your current experi-ence level or far below it. Nor should you pursue Major sources of independent funding.employment that really does not interest you. You Publications, including major not want to waste people’s time and perhapsdamage your own credibility. Teaching experience, awards, and interests. References, including names, titles, addresses, and other contact information.THE JOB APPLICATION Invited keynote speeches and presentations.How you go about applying for a job varies fromplace to place and from institution to institution. Major research projects undertaken.Talk to those who trained you and to colleagues Main responsibilities held in work-relatedto find out about the culture at the institutions you committees.would like to approach and what you will need todo to put in a successful application. This section In some countries, it is accepted that you willprovides some general guidelines, with specific provide personal details such as your maritalexamples from various individuals. status, number of children, or general health, but in others this practice will seem peculiar and may cause your application to be viewed less seriouslyMAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION than those that conform to a less personalRegardless of the type of application process, standard. Ask friends and colleagues who havefollow the application instructions or expected positions like the job you hope to get if they willprotocol carefully. Make sure your materials are look at your CV and tell you if there is anythingfree of factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. more that should be included or anything thatYou do not want to be eliminated at the outset— should be removed.a sloppily-prepared document makes a bad Highlight your name in bold type in your publica-impression. tions list so that it will be easy to see where youIf there is a deadline, be sure to get your applica- fell among the authors. List manuscripts intion in on time. But if you learn about the position preparation as a separate category. Do not listafter the application deadline has passed, go every paper you can conceive of writing in the nextahead and send in your application with an year. Include only papers that you are seriously 6 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 16. preparing for immediate submission, or you may A short bibliography backing your research seen as dishonestly padding your CV rather than It should include your publications and manuscriptsas someone who has many irons in the fire. Be submitted or in press, as well as pertinentprepared for requests for copies of manuscripts that publications by have described as in preparation or submitted. Your research proposal should accomplish oneThe Research Proposal. Some applications will goal: to spell out what you realistically hope torequire you to provide a description of your accomplish in the next few years as an employeeresearch plans. This research proposal may be of the organization to which you are applying. Ifreviewed by a committee composed of people your plans are too grandiose, you may underminefrom scientific areas outside your subspecialty. your case by showing that you are not a realist.For this reason, make sure that your proposal (Worse, you might land the job and then beis clearly written and that it provides sufficient expected to live up to your unrealistic plans!)background for non-specialists to understand the If your plans are not big enough, however, youimportance of the work. may appear to misunderstand the position or lackFollow any guidelines given when writing your ambition. This, then, is another document whereresearch proposals. Here are some suggested insight from others who have landed similar jobs initems you might include: the same or similar institutions will be extremely valuable. A title that succinctly describes the nature of your proposal. Reprints. Follow instructions given for each application. Send along any important papers that A statement about the problem you intend to work are not yet published. on, indicating the key unanswered questions you will tackle. State how this research is expected to Statement of Teaching. If the job has a teaching contribute to other research in your general area component, you may be asked to include a of scientific interest, and if appropriate to the separate section describing how you look at proposal, how it may contribute to policy formula- teaching, your instructional style, and any teaching tion or informed decision-making. experience you may have already had. This topic will be discussed further in chapter 8. A description of your research plans. This section should comprise 50-70% of the proposal. Put Letters of Recommendation. Depending on the forward three or four specific aims that address application instructions, letters of recommendation a range of fundamental questions within your can be included by you in the application package or discipline. Demonstrate that you have the neces- submitted later without passing through your sary background to achieve what you propose. hands. Typically, these letters are written by your Be both creative and realistic. former supervisors. It also may be acceptable to submit one or two more references than the A few comprehensive figures. These can help make your proposal more interesting to read. number asked for in the application. If possible, Remember, figures are most useful when they you should check in with the organization to which are included in the text, as they would be in a you are applying about this. Again, it is usually not published paper, and not tacked on at the end, as appropriate to go overboard. Sending 12 references they usually are when you are submitting a paper when three are requested would be viewed by for publication. many employers as a sign that you are insecure or grandiose, but some might view it as a sign that you A detailed description of the research you conduct- are well-connected. It is in your best interest to find ed as part of your training, with an emphasis on out which is more likely to be true at the institution what is novel, useful, and important and how it is you are interested in joining. Checking in directly the basis for your research proposal. You may with the office of the person who is hiring is one want to make clear that the work you are taking way to make sure that you do not send the wrong with you will not be in direct competition with your message. former supervisor, especially if you work in the same country. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 7
  • 17. When you approach someone other than an In most cases, your recommenders will write theadvisor for a letter of recommendation, use the letters themselves and will not let you see them.conversation as an opportunity to get a sense of When you deliver or send them your CV, pointhow they judge your work. If you encounter any out any strengths you have that they may not behesitation at all, or an indication that the person fully aware of. But be careful—you do not wantdoes not have time to write a letter or does not to appear to be dictating your letter to them, andknow you well enough to do so, ask others. In things you say that are meant to turn any negativemost cases it is better to ask someone who really impressions of you around could backfire.knows you and your work—not just someone with If you are able to, provide your recommendersan important title. with stamped, addressed envelopes ready toGive those who are writing you letters of recom- accept letters and be sent, or, if letters are to bemendation plenty of time to prepare the letters. sent electronically, provide the complete URL orWhen possible, give them your application pack- email address for submission. You want to lowerage, any advertisements or job announcements the barriers to them sending the letters, or elseto which you may be responding, and your most they may procrastinate. It is better to buy theup-to-date CV. It is important that your more stamps yourself rather than have the letter lan-recent accomplishments are on their minds, not guish simply because this important person wasjust things you may have done years ago. If you unable to find time to go to the post office. Tellfind the process narcissistic or are uncomfortable them when each letter to each of your potentialwith the self-promotion involved, don’t worry— employers will be needed, and then remind themmany people feel the same way. But what you until they send your letters. Check in with theare trying to do is to put on paper the facts that office that is hiring to verify that each letter haswill make employers want to have a look at you. been received. If the people who are writing yourThese letters may be the key to convincing a reference letters are established scientists with apotential employer to consider you for the job. secretary or aide, you may want to enlist the helpYou need them to be as strong, current, and of that assistant to be sure the letters are sent inlaudatory as they can honestly be. Your future on time.depends on them. Unless a job application specifically asks forIn some places, it is not uncommon (but certainly electronic submissions only, a paper letter on thenot common) for people to ask you to prepare a writer’s letterhead stationery should be sent, evendraft of the letter of recommendation for them. if an electronic version has also been forwarded.They do this so that you can highlight points thatwill strengthen your application—if you are ap-plying on the strength of your experience with a THE JOB INTERVIEWparticular technique, for example, the letter might Depending on the process for obtaining a jobspend a paragraph focusing on your mastery of in your country, a formal job interview may bethe technique, in addition to paragraphs comment- required. It might last a short time, or it coulding on the bigger picture of your science, on your involve a day long or over night visit to thecharacter, and on your standing compared with institution. It may be conducted by a singleyour peers. If an advisor asks you to draft a letter, person or a committee. Or you might be askedit is fair for you to ask him or her to give you some to meet directly with the hiring official at a localexamples of other letters, so that you can get the or international meeting and not be brought onformat and tone correct, and for you to ask others site at all. The interview could also be conductedin your lab to help you craft the best letter you in stages, with some applicants being eliminatedcan. Be aware that although someone may have at each step. The institution inviting you for andescribed this as a “draft,” he or she may sign interview may or may not pay your expenses forit and send it without adding more comments or travel and accommodations. You might meet withediting it, so check it very carefully before you several senior members of the institution, eitherdeclare it complete. 8 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 18. QUESTION q&a What if I do not get along with my former or current supervisor? ANSWER If you do not have a good relationship with your supervisor and cannot ask for a letter of recommendation, sometimes it is best to explain why in your cover letter. Be completely candid about the situation. Not having a recommendation from the very person who trained you and supervised your work can be a very significant red flag. Sometimes if you have a good relationship with the top person at your institution or department, you can ask that person to take on the task of helping you advance to your next position. This may be effective in allowing you to get past conflicts with your problematic supervisor. But remember that your publication record may make it obvious that you are not asking the person with whom you worked most closely to give you a recommendation. Despite your insertion of a higher official into the process, those in charge of reviewing applications may contact your immediate supervisor anyway. Think and act carefully in this situation, but do not become too paranoid—a soured relationship with a past boss can be inconvenient, particularly in the small world of research, but conflicts are bad for both parties involved, and hounding you forever would probably be a negative career move for your former supervisor. When important people are consistently bad bosses to those they train, word gets around. You should resist the urge to complain or badmouth your nemesis, and should not be surprised if a few years later others turn out to know of the grace with which you handled this difficult situation. In the meantime, a letter from another scientist at your supervisor’s level at your institution who can com- ment on your intellect and hard work and perhaps make a comment on the difficult relationship between you and your supervisor may be critical in this case. Often, the frictions that arise between people can be put in a light that reflects positively on you and your supervisor—for example, if your interests in basic sci- ence grew to conflict with your supervisor’s need to use you in an administrative or bureaucratic role, then neither of you were “bad people,” the job was simply not a good fit. It is obvious how and why some bad feeling might come along. People do understand that sometimes the fit between individuals’ personalities or between a scientist and a particular job is just not right, and will not always judge you harshly for it.during the first or subsequent interviews, and they Find out as much as you can that will help youmay be asked to provide feedback about you to decide if the institution, the working group, andthe person or committee doing the hiring. You may the job are right for you.also be asked to give one or more talks about your Convince the interview panel that your competen-research. No matter what the format of the job cies and expertise will complement and strengtheninterview is, it will be your task to: those of the research group and add value to Convince those listening that your work is exciting existing research activity. and that you will be a leader in your field. Regardless of how the particular process works, Convince each person you talk with that you will be prepared for a demanding and exhausting be a good colleague. experience. Get enough rest beforehand so that you will be at your best. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 9
  • 19. ADVANCE PREPARATION PREPARING YOUR JOB TALKBe well-prepared by doing the following before During an interview visit, you may be asked to giveyour visit: a formal presentation on your current research. At many institutions this kind of talk lasts about Organize the logistics of your trip, including travel an hour, including 10-15 minutes for questions. tickets, hotel accommodations, arrangements for You have probably given a long talk before, and pick-up, and the schedule of events on interview you know what works for you, but here are a few day. Be conservative about your estimates of travel guidelines on how to prepare your talk: time—you do not need the added stress of miss- ing a connection and being late. If you will have ac- First, write out the entire talk, thinking of your cess to email or cell phone communication during audience as you write. Remember, a talk is not your trip, exchange addresses or phone numbers presented in the same way as a scientific paper. with the person who organized your interview so You must get your main ideas across to listeners that you can alert each other if there are problems who have had little opportunity to study the details, during your travel or any changes in plans. Do not as well as to those whose research interests and make assumptions about arrangements being backgrounds are very different from yours. Assume made for you—get the details beforehand. Find that your audience will be composed of intelligent out whether you will be given accommodations people who are uninformed about your chosen while you are on site, particularly if you are flying in scientific field. To help your audience follow before the day of your interview. It may be that ac- your talk, divide it into several clear and concise commodations will not be provided. Knowing this sections, and give an overview of the talk at the before you arrive, so that you can make your own beginning. At the end, restate your conclusions arrangements, will save you plenty of confusion and offer an outline of your future research plans. and trouble later. At the outset or at the conclusion of your talk, If you will be meeting other scientists, find out include a brief statement acknowledging those about their scientific interests ahead of time. Read who helped you in your research. a few of their papers or at least skim the abstracts. Next, translate what you have written into the Be ready to ask them about their work. pictures and “major points” summaries of a slide Learn as much as possible about the institution presentation. Most researchers use PowerPoint and its mission. You want to make sure your presentations to deliver their talks. If you use ambitions are in line with those of the institution. computer slides, bring along a sturdy backup, for example a CD or flash drive with your talk, as well as a less technology-dependent backup like acetateDRESS CODE slides that go on overhead projectors. Be sure toDress neatly and in keeping with scientific custom ask your hosts ahead of time about the type ofas you know it. If you have trained abroad, talk to equipment that will be available to you and plancolleagues who are local to the institution where accordingly. Try to vary the design of your slides,you are interviewing to make sure you understand balancing the use of text and figures. Resist thethe dress code. A simple suit—jacket, button- temptation to use only bulleted points, but alsodown shirt, tie for men, and matching trousers or avoid long sentences. Many people who areskirt—may be the best approach. If you end up nervous about public speaking will place everybeing over-dressed, the jacket and tie can be taken word that they plan to say on their slides. Thatoff for a less formal look. Think through what you does not make a very good slide show! Keep thewill do if your luggage is lost on the way. It is text on your slides brief and to the point. Refer toadvisable to carry an extra shirt, underclothes, and the text as you speak, but do not just read it—light toiletries in your hand luggage, just in case elaborate on it. That will lead your audience to beyour baggage goes missing. comfortably attentive to both your text and your remarks. Be sure that your slides are readable from the back of a lecture room and that the order of your slides matches your written presentation. 10 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 20. it comfortably within the time allowed. Remember During an interview, in some cultures it is that a talk that is slightly too short is much better suggested to be very polite, never make than one that is too long. It may be better to focus eye contact with interviewers, and to avoid on only one aspect of your research, so that you speaking about oneself (e.g. describing your can give sufficient detail within the time you have, strengths in overt terms). Specifically, females saving the rest for the question-and-answer session. are encouraged to avoid eye contact with male interviewers. When interviewing with a person When you feel comfortable giving your talk, enlist with a foreign/international background, these your supervisor, your colleagues, scientifically principles may be viewed as major weak- trained friends and any students you work with nesses, and thus reduce your chances of as an audience for a “dress rehearsal” practice getting hired. It is important to find out the talk. If you will be using a laser pointer when you background of the interviewer and adjust one’s give your interview talk, practice with one, as the ” behavior accordingly. jumpiness of the laser spot can be a distraction for the audience if the speaker is not used to handling the pointer. Encourage the group to ask questions Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali and offer frank criticism of your work, your man- ner of speaking, your gestures and any annoyingA few back-up slides of new work or additional speech or gesture habits that distract from yourexperiments may occasionally add value to any talk, and your professional appearance. (Especiallydiscussion arising from your presentation. if you are a very sensitive person, it is good to start by reminding your helpful crowd you are looking forView your slides projected in a lighted room, if insights that will let you quickly improve the talk,possible. Many images look fine on a computer not for thorough dissection of your work, personal-screen but work poorly when projected. In particu- ity, and appearance.) This is a useful exercise aslar, avoid using light-colored text on light-colored it may help prepare you to respond to comments,backgrounds or dark text on dark backgrounds. including difficult and unanticipated questions.Finally, practice your talk in front of a mirror. Doing Ask the group for suggestions for improving yourso allows you to time your presentation while PowerPoint slides. Make sure that you start prepar-getting used to the sound of your own voice. Keep ing your talk well before the day you will have torepeating the talk until you can deliver it easily, leave and that you ask for comments early enoughusing your slides as your only memory aid. If to leave time for editing your slides and your talk tonecessary, edit the talk down until you can deliver incorporate with any good advice you receive. INTERVIEWING IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT When NGOs and multinational organizations recruit, they will frequently meet with researchers in the South, but bring with them assumptions and expectations that come from institutional cultures in Geneva, New York, Paris, London, or elsewhere. The dress code, how to interact with the organiza- tion’s staff during the process, how forward or aggressive to be during the interview, and even how much to pursue eye contact may be different from what is right for institutions in your country. Eye contact, in particular, is difficult to gauge. In many (but not all) Northern cultures, briefly dropping and then re-establishing eye contact on encountering a person in a position of power is a respectful sign, but keeping them dropped is viewed as unconfident or dishonest. In most places, whether North or South, gaining, pursuing, and holding eye contact too much is interpreted as aggressive. Finding opportunities to talk informally with people from the countries frequently represented will give you a chance to experiment with different levels of eye contact. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 11
  • 21. PRACTICING THE TALK DELIVERING THE TALK Practice your first few sentences until you can If you can, arrive early, so that you can become deliver them without much thought—this will help comfortable with the room and can be sure that you dive into your speech even if you are nervous. your slides are set up and ready to go. You may Do not memorize your whole talk and give it as a have to ask your host to get you to the room with recitation, though—know what you plan to say, but enough time to prepare. relax and talk with your audience rather than trying The most nerve-wracking moments are just before to say exactly the same words that you practiced you begin your lecture. Focus on your breathing. in the weeks before the talk. Make every inhale and exhale deliberate to control On your own, go through your talk over and over a rapid heart rate. During the talk, pause and take again, paying attention to the words you will use a breath between transitions, just as you would if to go through your slides. If there is a slide where you were telling a friend an exciting story. you find yourself saying too much or going off on Greet your audience and tell them you are glad tangents, work particularly hard on moving crisply to be with them. Make eye contact with a few through the data. audience members who seem eager to hear what Feeling balanced is important to your self- you have to say. Then plunge in. confidence. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Let it show that you are excited about your work Break habits such as rocking from foot to foot and the chance of perhaps landing a job working or pacing. with the people in front of you. Make sure you speak clearly and loud enough for Do not worry if some people close their eyes or all in the room to hear. seem uninterested. Continue to give your talk Practice what you will do with your hands so that as you practiced it, making eye contact with those you can break fidgeting habits or the urge to put who are listening closely, even if those who them in your pockets. A computer mouse and a remain engaged are the students, not the leaders. pointer may be enough to keep you from fidget- ing—but be careful not to play with either of them. ANSWERING QUESTIONS Even though you may have done all the work Repeat the question for the audience, as it is often presented, it is important to sound modest in your difficult for other audience members to hear a presentation. Begin by saying, “The work I will tell question asked without benefit of a microphone. you about today was carried out while I was in Then take your time answering. If you need to, buy the lab of X at institution Y.” Then, describe each some more time by asking for a restatement of research slide in terms of “we.” Be aware that the question. In a pinch, give an interpretation of someone may interrupt and ask, “Yes, but what of what you think the questioner wants to know. Take this work did you yourself do?” a moment to think through what you want to say Practice how you will answer questions. It is okay and then speak, formulating a beginning, middle, to answer “I do not know” if you then offer to and end for your answer. Give your best answer find out about any matters of fact later and follow and stop. Rambling on only conveys uncertainty. up with the questioner. It is a great opportunity to If questions are slow in coming, take the initiative make contact with faculty after the interview. by pointing out some aspect of your work that you If you feel you will be very close to your time limit, passed over quickly but that you believe warrants practice deferring questions to the end of the the audience’s attention. This gives you a chance session so that you are not derailed by questions to use some of the material you edited out of your that come up during the talk. talk. You may generate a whole new line of ques- tioning. In case you need to go back through your slides to a particular one in order to clarify a point, arrange to have your slides accessible during the discussion period. 12 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 22. If challenged, listen to the criticism and give a Expect to be interrupted. This kind of talk is a judicious response. Do not become defensive. chance to show that you can think on your feet, Questions are more often asked because the that you respect others, and that you will be an questioner does not understand something than interactive research colleague. Even if you feel because he or she is trying to make a fool of the pressured, do your best to keep things friendly speaker. Give the other person the benefit of the and to keep any disagreements light. Saying “You doubt. If the criticism seems unfair or there is may be right, I may be right—what is the best a disagreement about a matter of fact, stand experiment for settling the matter?” is a good your ground politely. You might suggest a follow- way to turn a disagreement back to the questioner up discussion later. Even if the person is being and to the audience. quite aggressive, you can still try to end the back- and-forth by suggesting that you agree to disagree Meeting Potential Colleagues. If part of the until you can talk later and find out where you are interview process will include one-on-one conver- misunderstanding one another. sations with other researchers who will be at or near your level, it is important to show interest in their work and ask lots of questions. RememberGIVING AN INFORMAL TALK that these potential colleagues are looking forWhen you visit a potential employer, you may someone who will benefit their own work, as wellalso have an opportunity to give a less formal as someone who is a good scientist, and often aspresentation during which you can offer detailed someone who will be pleasant to have as a neigh-information about the direction of your future bor down the hall. You may be taken out to dinnerresearch. Ask before the interview how long you by some of the faculty. This is a chance for themshould talk and make sure that in fact the more to evaluate you as a future colleague and for youformal seminar is not expected. to determine whether you would enjoy working with them. Be yourself during these events, butFor an informal talk, give a brief overview of your also be appropriately respectful and deferential toresearch agenda (which you may have included your would-be your job application as a research proposal).Include in this talk both your short- and long-term Depending on where you are applying, you mayobjectives—both the purpose of the work you are also have a chance to meet students or othertalking about and what you would like to accom- trainees working there.plish during your career. For example, you may beworking on a very detailed signaling pathway, but CONCLUDING YOUR VISITthis work is a small part in your greater interest inhow one microbe causes disease. Understanding Typically, your visit will conclude with a conversa-a tiny phosphorylation event may seem esoteric; tion with the head of the institute or departmentputting it in the context of your long-term interest to which you are applying or with the committeein Dengue fever helps even the least trained person in charge of hiring. Once the visit is over, it mayin the room understand why you are doing the work. be time to wait patiently, because the institution may be interviewing other candidates. In theOnce you have established a sense of perspective, meantime, it is customary in many places thatstate several specific problems you want to work as soon as you return home you write a formalon in the next few years, and explain in detail how letter addressed to the individuals you met duringyou plan to proceed. Be prepared to write on a your visit, thanking everyone for their hospitalitywhite board and bring along an overhead projector and reiterating your interest in the position. Evensheet or two of preliminary data that will demon- if that is not the expected protocol in the placestrate the feasibility of your plan. Show that you you are looking for a job, few individuals areare familiar with the details of any new techniques mortified to receive a formal note of thanks andyou may need to master. Be sure to convey to your you have little to lose by sending one. If duringaudience why the work is important and how yourwork can make a difference to your field. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 13
  • 23. your one-on-one interviews you have promised to EVALUATING THE OFFERshare data or more information, be sure to followup on your commitment quickly. If being “Johnny- If you are offered a position, you will need to findon-the-spot”—very quick and eager to serve any out as much as possible about the job and therequest—is out of place in the culture in which resources that will be made available to you ifyou will work, still follow up quickly but perhaps you accept it. If you are not satisfied with somenote that the fast follow-up is a sign of your aspects of the offer, try to negotiate better terms,enthusiasm for the question, not a rush to move if you can (this is not possible at all institutions).things along more quickly. You will have to do the following:Be sure to inform those who have interviewed you Learn the details of the offer.if you decide to take another job or if for some other Re-read the list of priorities you made at the outsetreason you decide to withdraw your candidacy. of your search to evaluate how the job stacks upThey may remember you negatively if you give against that list. Is this the job that will work forthem an unpleasant surprise by not revealing your you and for your family?plans until after they have made an offer to you. Calculate precisely what you need in salary and other benefits to determine whether the offerNEGOTIATING YOUR POSITION measures up. For example, can you afford to live in the community on the salary offered? ThinkOnce the head of the institute or of the department about your family’s expenses and other financialwhere you applied has given you a tentative offer, factors that will be important to you in the long run.or at least let you know that you are the top Does the institution provide help in finding orcandidate, you are in a position of maximum paying for housing, fees for children, and, ifstrength for asking for what you need to do your necessary, transportation expenses related to thejob well, both in terms of your salary and technical job? Benefits such as these can be negotiatedresources. In some places it is expected that you in some institutions, but not others. In somemay be able to negotiate some aspects of the job, countries, the idea of asking your institution forwhile in other places it is expected that you will help with any of these things would be absurd,take what is offered. Find out ahead of time what while in others several of them are typically partthe custom is for the position for which you are of what is available.applying. The best way is to ask people in similarpositions in the same area about their own experi- Enumerate in detail the other resources—ences with starting a new position. especially equipment not currently on site or opportunities to travel to places where the properIn some places, there will be very little room for equipment is available—that you believe younegotiation in salary, and there may be no money need to succeed in the scientific work you haveavailable for start-up support. You may be given the planned. Decide what is absolutely necessary andonly space that is available, or there may be some what you can live without. In some cases, it mayroom for negotiating about where your lab will be. be satisfactory for the department to guaranteeYou should gather information beforehand to better you access to shared equipment, rather thanunderstand what is likely to be negotiable. Even buying you your own.when all of the practical details are pre-determined,you may be able to negotiate for more indepen- Make your wishes known to the institution’sdence, or to cluster your responsibilities in ways representatives, and engage them in the processthat leave you more time for research. No matter of negotiating with you. Even in situations wherewhere you go, talking with senior scientists who salary and other personal factors are not nego-are familiar with the institution may help you learn tiable, it is important to clearly indicate any resources without which you will not be able towhere flexibility is available and how to ask for it. do your work, and discuss what will be done to make sure you have access to them. 14 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 24. QUESTION q&a How do I distinguish myself from the lab that I trained in if I want to continue in the same research area? ANSWER Get a letter from your mentor explaining that he or she is pleased to know that you will be continuing to work on project X, which he or she will not pursue. Have this discussion with your mentor before you start to write the grant application.As much as possible, get everything spelled out You may need to do some homework to rule outin writing—it helps both you and your employer to problems that may not have been revealed duringbe clear on what is promised and expected from your discussions with people at the institutionboth sides. This is true even if you are getting where you have received an offer. For example, it“the standard package” and no negotiations will would be helpful to know if the working group hastake place. experienced internal personal conflicts recently, if the organization has financial problems, if the headFor physicians in clinical departments, job discus-sions should indicate the extent of clinical duties is retiring or stepping down soon, whether keyand clinical support, time to be spent at outlying leadership or staff members are about to leaveclinics, and so on. or retire, and the rate of staff turnover, including what levels of staff leave most frequently andAsk for a copy of a manual that spells out the why. You also want to know whether people whoinstitution’s or department’s policies for its staff, if have worked in the institution and departmentsuch a document exists. If it does not, make sure have been happy, well-supported, and know who you will need to see, what forms Use the grapevine—talk to people you met duringyou will need to fill out, etc., to get yourself situ- your interview visit, and talk with others recentlyated at the institution. Often finding someone affiliated with your potential department andwho is willing to act as a “big brother” or “big institution. Be discreet, but be straightforward.sister” as you settle in is the most useful way to You do not want to be surprised, especially if therego about learning the written and unwritten rules are issues that are not “deal breakers” but wouldof your new institution, as well as important be better dealt with before you arrive.secrets like where to find the good coffee or whoto call when the power goes out. When you are contacted with an offer, you might be asked for a second interview. This time, youIt may be that your job is very large. For example, will be able to ask more detailed questions aboutyou may be hired to be the person for an important the position. Talk with key people in your prospec-disease in your country. Even in cases like that, tive department, and have a preliminary look atyou will need resources well beyond your job title available housing. A second interview visit is anto get your work done. It may be easier to discuss excellent time to start the discussion aboutthose resources before you agree to take the job what you will need in terms of laboratory space,than it will ever be after you have done so. materials and equipment, and staff. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 15
  • 25. Are you responsible for obtaining money for your If talking directly about money is not salary through grants, or will your institution socially acceptable in a given place, what provide it? kind of conversation could yield some If your institution provides it, what is the amount general numbers without showing your of your base pay (this may determine future raises) hand or asking someone else to? and is that base pay tied to a particular grant or You can engage in a conversation with human other funding source that may expire? resource personnel in a relaxed environment (away from the work environment) where Can the salary be negotiated or is it a set amount you can talk about your vision of the research for the type of position you are being offered? group that you will be leading. This group will What benefits come with the position? be in various grades and will also have differ- ent career advancement requirements as well Can you supplement your salary from other as salary scales. On the pretext of this line sources, for example by consulting or teaching or of discussion try to find out (how advance- working in an unrelated job? ment works) and where you want to be in the What are your institution’s policies on outside next five years.Also try to get the associated advancement grades and some salary scales. consulting, including how much consulting is In so doing you may be able to estimate the permitted, what approvals are required, and what salaries of those that are above you and thus limitations apply? Are there outside opportunities compare with your own salary. It is much that are explicitly not allowed? easier to find out what salaries those you Salary. If your salary is negotiable, you should ” supervise earn than those who supervise you. seek out sources of information you can use to evaluate your initial offer. Salaries differ not only Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe from country to country, but even within the same country they can vary widely depending on degree, geographical location, type of institution (public vs. private, research institute vs. universityWHAT YOU NEED TO FIND OUT vs. hospital), and scientific discipline. To evaluateHere are some of the details you will need to the salary offered, you need comparative informa-ask about. tion on starting faculty salaries at the institution offering you the job and in your field elsewhere,The Appointment. You need to know the following: as well as on costs of living. What your job title implies about your independence Salary numbers are confidential in many institu- and authority, length of your expected relationship tions, but it can be useful to draw on friends and with the place where you are working, and expec- colleagues to at least get an idea of the appropriate tations about your role(s) within the organization. range. The length of your initial term of employment. Research Money and Facilities. In some The terms under which the organization’s commit- countries, an institution is expected to provide an ment to you will be renewed or not renewed. investigator who is just starting his or her own lab with some money for hiring workers and forThe Salary. You need to pin down the following: buying supplies and other resources such as office and lab space, equipment, computers and soft- Is the salary guaranteed, and if so, for how long? ware, a technician and other support staff, help In other words, you need to know whether part in obtaining grants, and support for travel to con- of your salary and other support must eventually be obtained from other sources. ferences and meetings. This kind of institutional support may be ongoing, or it may be available only for a pre-determined period of time, after which the head of the lab is expected to obtain funds through other sources, such as grants. 16 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 26. If you are to set up a new laboratory yourself, it isuseful to inquire about how to get such resources The pool of jobs is limited in our clinicalat the institution. You may inherit them or be setting, which does compromise one’s abilityexpected to share them with others in the research to negotiate. Secondly, for active clinicians,group. However, if it works at your organization, posts are mainly clinical. Research is seen asit is good to ask up front about the resources you a secondary activity which does limit timeneed so that you can plan appropriately. You do allocated to research and the ability to negoti-not want to later find out that your assumptions do ate for protected research time. Fortunately, the status quo is changing. Government hasnot match those of the person or people who have begun to increase research funding throughhired you. the National Research Foundation and the ”Service within the Institution. Ask whether you Medical Research Council.will be expected to serve on committees withinthe institution and about other projects you will Brian Eley, South Africabe expected to become involved with, in additionto doing your research. Early on, try to establish anunderstanding and agreement with your superiorsabout how your time will be divided between yourresearch project and other tasks. Jobs are far too scarce! One has to find something, anything, and then negotiate as ”Teaching Responsibilities. If your job will be time goes by and you climb the ladder.attached to a university, you should know thatalthough it is rewarding, teaching can be the most Abdoulaye Djimdé, Malitime-consuming activity for new faculty. You willwant a clear statement about the following: Your teaching load (the number of subjects and classes each term, typical enrollments, and levels Negotiation is not so common with government and types of students). positions, but this can be done in cases of Expectations about teaching-related tasks such consultancies. One can negotiate their salary as running student laboratories and administering and the rest of the package (transport, housing and grading student examinations, students’ allowances, work terms) in some parastatals ” accessibility to you during non-lecture times, and (state-run companies) and the private sector. advising students on their university curriculum and their careers. Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe Whether you are expected to draw students into your research work and direct their thesis projects. GETTING WHAT YOU NEED AND WANTProtecting Research Time. If you are a physicianwho is seeing patients and doing research, or if you How to Negotiate. If in your institution you canare a government scientist or public health official negotiate some of the aspects of your job (suchwho has administrative tasks and is doing research, as the salary, money for research, or other dutiesyou will need to clarify as much as possible how you will need to perform), present your requestsmuch time you will spend in each of your roles. clearly. Take some time to make a list of what youYou need to know what is expected when your really need, and think about how to explain thoseother responsibilities call you away from your needs to the person in charge of hiring you.research. If you do not get a clear understanding Be reasonable with your requests, but do be sureof these issues before you start your new job, you that you maximize your opportunities to do themay become overwhelmed when opportunities or research you hope to do.crises put your various roles into conflict. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 17
  • 27. When the institution responds and you begin to Whether you should play the institutions againstdiscuss the terms of your employment, be prepared one another to obtain a better offer varies fromto make trade-offs. For example, if you are asking place to place. Talk confidentially to some veryfor a piece of equipment, indicate that you would trusted advisors to gauge the situation where yoube willing to share it with other faculty and how it want to work.would benefit the rest of the department. Knowing If you need to delay making a decision, ask for anwhat is essential to you is crucial at this time. extension of the deadline if you need to. It is muchThe Offer Letter. At some institutions, the fruits better to try to move a deadline than to miss oneof your negotiations should be reflected in an completely.official letter from the institution offering you a job.Work with the institution to craft as comprehen-sive a letter as possible. The letter is usually your RESOURCEScontract, so take it seriously. In addition to the Davis, Martha, and Gloria Fry. Scientific Papers andbasics (e.g., title, salary, and research support), the Presentations. New York: Academic Press, 1996.letter should detail the timing, schedule, process, Heiberger, Mary M., and Julie M. Vick. The Academicand requirements for your job. Job Search Handbook. Philadelphia: University ofEven if offer letters are not usual in the institution Pennsylvania Press, 1996.where you are accepting a job, it can be useful Rehrig, Norita H. Six Steps to Successful Interviewing:to write a letter to the person who is hiring you How to Build Your Reputation by Picking the Winners.soon after you have talked about your needs. In it, Bethlehem, PA: College Placement Council, can restate what he or she has said regarding Onlinethe particulars of the job. If presenting a list of Austin, Jim. “You’ve Worked Hard to Get This Far.”the particulars seems arrogant or offensive, one (November 22, 2002),way to accomplish the same thing is to write a thank you letter expressing your pleasure magazine/previous_issues/articles/2002_11_22/at accepting the job and noting the features that noDOI.15726094919902624321.make it especially attractive. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Career pages, MULTIPLE OFFERS careerresources.htm.If you are offered more than one job, congratula- Golde, Chris, M. “After the Offer, Before the Deal:tions! Multiple offers are gratifying, but they also Negotiating a First Academic Job,” Academe: Bulletinmake life complicated. The important thing is to of the American Association of University Professors,deal honorably with all of your suitors. January/February 1999, 44–49, publications/academe/1999/99jf/GOL_JF99.htm. Be as straightforward as custom allows. Golde, Chris, M. “Be Honorable and Strategic,” Be prompt to decline the offers you are not (August 24, 2001), http://scienceca- interested in so that other candidates may be considered for the job you do not want. Keep articles/2001_08_24/noDOI.5231522495243752553. in mind, however, that it can be risky to decline all your other offers before you have accepted your first choice in writing. There have been cases when firm verbal offers have been with- drawn because of a university-wide hiring freeze. 18 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 28. CHAPTER 2 ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB“LE PRÉSENT SERAIT PLEIN DE TOUS LES AVENIRS, SI LE PASSÉ N’Y PROJETAIT DÉJÀ UNE HISTOIRE. ” ANDRÉ GIDE Many scientists decide to train abroad and then very frustrated with how slowly things get done, return to their home countries to obtain a perma- especially when stocking your laboratory with sup- nent position. The advantage of training abroad plies and equipment for the first time. In addition, is that you get exposure to the latest approaches the ways of judging scientific accomplishments and ideas from the broader community. You differ between countries, so that the fact that you will meet people with whom you will be able to published in top-tier journals while training abroad collaborate for years to come. If you trained in a may not hold as much weight as having the right country with many resources, you probably had connections in your home country. Also, remem- access to state-of-the-art facilities, major scientific ber that science does not proceed at the same publications, and conferences, and so you may pace in all countries. And even if you maintain a have many advantages in moving your scientific high rate of work, your basic research may be ambitions forward. slowed as you respond to your country’s or region’s needs for practical solutions to immediate health But at the same time, training abroad can pose problems. Even if you are doing well, it can be special challenges to a job search. For example, frustrating to see those you trained with “race you may not have maintained the necessary conn- ahead” with their careers in a richer country when ections to help you find a job in your homecountry. you return to a place where doing science is more You may also not be as familiar with the current difficult from a practical standpoint. system in your home country, particularly if you left your country very early in your professional Challenges you may face include limited research training, before you had gained a true understand- support and its attendant need for more time ing of how and why things work in your own spent on preparing and revising budgets, reading country’s scientific system. It may be difficult to and modifying contracts, and handling your own adjust after working in a different system for so administrative tasks, including human resources many years. When you return, at first you may be management and procurement of materials, The quote above: Gide says that the present would be full of possible futures if the past hadn’t already chosen the story. ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 19
  • 29. equipment and supplies. Maintenance and calibra-tion of equipment may be sub-optimal and you Be humble and respectful: work hard on yourmay find yourself handling those tasks yourself. relationship with him or her. No matter howExchange rate fluctuations may eat away at grants well trained you’ve come back, he or she isfrom international funders. Your network of nearby better connected and will know many morecolleagues may be smaller than you have grown things that can help you readjust. It is in your ”used to, and you may have less access to the interest to be humble and open minded.informal transfer of knowledge that happens whenthere are more scientists working closer together. Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali What happens if I outrank my advisor when PEOPLE YOU SHOULD I come back? GET TO KNOW You must always bear in mind that outranking As a beginning investigator, you will want to learn your advisor will be a sore point for him or quickly which individuals can affect your career her in most cases, and you should handle this situation carefully. Communication (including progress. They may include: in writing) in all aspects of your work copied to Heads of departments and divisions his supervisor is very important. Your advisor may feel outranked in terms of: Senior scientists within your own department or division qualifications Senior scientists in other divisions who share your grants sourced research interests technical expertise Senior physicians (if you are a physician-scientist) publications It is a good idea to get acquainted with faculty in One way to overcome this would be to tactfully your own department and in other departments get your advisor involved in grant proposal whose research interests are complementary to writing (if he or she is a good scientist) that your own. You may find, for example, colleagues will boost the overall profile of the research with whom research collaboration is possible, section where both of you are. This should and/or colleagues with a good understanding of be done in such a way that he feels that he is any health and safety risks associated with your truly part of the process. The advisor should also be a part of the planning and implementing research, who can advise you about the policies of process of your research programme. You can the university and safe procedures for controlling also use your technical expertise to bring into research risks. the section some funds that can be used by You should get to know administrators in your the section as agreed upon by you and your department or division who can help you with supervisor. However, one should be careful matters such as requesting maintenance, purchas- ” not to be taken advantage of. ing, tracking expenditures, hiring staff, and a host of other issues you will not have time to deal with Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe in detail. These individuals will also be valuable in preserving stability when inevitable changes come, such as when the head of your department or division retires or moves on to another position. 20 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 30. SUPPORT FACILITIES In many developing countries it is possibleAND SERVICES that government policy and infrastructure toSome universities provide considerable support regulate safety, scientific integrity and theto aid faculty in their activities. Support services ethical conduct of research are weak, or perhaps even non-existent. Institutionalizationinclude libraries and media centers, scientific or of regulatory guidelines and policy on scientifictechnical services commonly referred to as “core integrity and the ethical conduct of researchfacilities,” and administrative offices established will often require proactivity by the scientific ”to help faculty complete grant applications and community.comply with regulatory requirements. To save yourtime and to be compliant with your institution’srules and customs, you must know what central- Nancy Gore Saravia, Colombiaized facilities exist to support you.If you are remaining at or returning to the placewhere you trained, you are probably already Approvals for human subjects research.familiar with the traditional campus-wide resources Requirements for carrying out studies on animals.and some core facilities at your institution, butmay never have dealt with administrative support Requirements for using lasers or acutely toxicservices. Listed below are some issues for which chemicals, and for disposing of hazardous chemi-you may find some administrative support at an cal or biomedical waste.institution that has a large research operation.If you are not at an institution that is primarily HEALTH AND SAFETYfocused on research, you may find that you needto handle these important concerns yourself. It is important that you become familiar with the health and safety guidelines that apply to your research. Universities often have rules for safety,REGULATORY COMPLIANCE but even if you are at an institution that doesThere may be an office or committee at your not, you should make sure the members of yourinstitution to help keep track of the licenses and research group know the hazards that may beapprovals you will need to comply with govern- present in your laboratory, are trained in safe workment regulations for research. You may need to habits, and know how to deal with any emergencyfind out about: that may arise. Your institution may have an office to help you with this responsibility by providing Requirements for radiation safety, if you intend to safety training programs, technical assistance, use radioactive materials. regulatory compliance assistance, risk assess- Requirements for the possession and use of blood- ments, and services to test the integrity of safety borne pathogens and other infectious materials equipment, or you may have to develop these and for recombinant DNA research. capabilities yourself. Licenses needed for the use of proprietary reagents and materials, drugs and approvals for research that is specifically regulated in your country—for example, work with certain dangerous pathogens, recombinant technologies in organisms that accidentally or purposely could be released into nature, or stem cell research. ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 21
  • 31. QUESTION q&a Is your institution ready to apply for international funding? ANSWER It takes some preparation to get ready for managing grants from most major funding organizations. If your institution has not already been pursuing grants from major funders, you yourself may have to see to it that the clerical work to get ready for funding gets done. This preparatory work is not especially difficult, but it can be bureaucratic and time-consuming. Most large funding organizations now or will soon require electronic submission of grant proposals. Funders supported by governments, such as the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., may require your institution to be registered and given an identification number, which will be used on all grant-related communications with the agency, before you can put in a grant application. Uploading grant applications to electronic submission systems can also be a time-consuming task. Each piece of the grant, from the proposal itself to the budget forms, may require a separate document to be uploaded to the funder’s online form, and others may be asked to submit electronic letters of recommen- dation and collaboration agreements before your proposal is complete. If your internet connection is slow or frequently interrupted, even though you begin to upload a document, it may not be properly transferred to the funder’s computer. Incomplete grant application forms will generally be rejected by the funder’s computer system, sometimes leaving one mystified about which of the many parts of the application has triggered the rejection. If your institution plans to become more involved in seeking grants, it can be very useful to have clerical staff who can take care of background work such as registering your institution for ID numbers with various funders and phoning or emailing funders to straighten out computer glitches. Whether you have clerical staff to help or will be doing the submission on your own, be aware that until you have conquered these systems’ learning curves, the process can be very slow. Begin the process as soon as you know you will be submitting a grant to a particular agency, and begin submitting the grant several days—perhaps two weeks—before the agency’s deadline to allow time for straightening out any problems that may arise.GRANTS AND CONTRACTS TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERYour institution may have individuals who can tell Some institutions have an office to manage theyou about available university financial support and patenting and licensing of any discoveries madehelp you apply for it, and can provide information at the university. (See chapter 12 for a detailedabout outside funding opportunities. Some discussion of technology transfer and intellectualinstitutions have complex procedures in place property.)for submitting grants—many signatures may beneeded. You should find out what the procedureis at your institution before you write your firstgrant so that you will not run into administrativeobstacles as you race to meet a grant deadline. 22 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 32. PURCHASING SUPPLIES One of the lessons I have learned as a studentYou may be required to go through a specific in a foreign university and as part of a universitycommittee or office at your institution to buy in Costa Rica is the importance of keeping goodequipment and supplies. Its staff may be familiar relations with and learning from administrativewith the full range of vendors and products and staff—executive secretaries, administrativemay be able to help you negotiate prices. Staff assistants, financial officers, etc. Even if onemembers may also be knowledgeable about regu- is a good researcher, one may not have goodlatory and shipping requirements related to the administrative skills. Besides, large organiza-products they buy. They may also keep track of tions like universities develop a large set ofpayments and receipt of goods, thereby providing regulations, and it is difficult to keep track ”a valuable accounting function for your lab. If there of all of not such an office, you might consider finding agood accounting software program to use to keep Gilbert Brenes Comacho, Costa Ricatrack of spending and resources.HIRING STAFFLarge institutions may have administrative“human resources” staff people who can help youhire research staff to work in your laboratory, or QUESTION q&ayou may be responsible for advertising the job and Is your institution ready to administerattracting candidates yourself. grant- funded work?RECRUITING STUDENTS ANSWERIf you are at a well-known training institution, Your institution will be responsible for aexcellent students may be drawn to you by the variety of tasks, ranging from assuring goodchance to work at the institution. At smaller or accounting for financial support you mayless well-known institutions, attracting students receive to accounting for how much of yourmay be more difficult, and forming alliances with working day is spent on a project. If your(including, perhaps, getting faculty appointments research touches on human subjects, usesat) other institutions may be very useful if training animals, or requires application of “Gooda new generation is important to you. Practice” guidelines discussed on page 25, there is administrative tracking that must be done. Hiring institutional clerical staff willPUBLIC RELATIONS make life easier, but if hiring staff for this workOR COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE is impossible, remember to budget your ownThe public relations or communications office time for the required administrative a research institute keeps the outside world Without timely and proper accounting andinformed about the achievements of the institution reporting procedures for grants management,and its scholars. Its staff maintains contact with the flow of money from funded grants willthe news media and can help you prepare for an likely stop and agencies may be reluctant tointerview, translate your findings into “sound bites,” support you in the future. Failing to keep upand learn how to field questions comfortably. with administration of human, animal, andIf such an office exists in your institution, individuals good practice requirements could result inin it may have a personal interest in reading and your work being stopped by regulatory agencies until you can prove that properediting your grants and scientific papers, but this procedures are in place.may or may not be part of their official job. ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 23
  • 33. WORKING WITH HUMAN SUBJECTSWhether you will be using invasive techniques Code, emerged from the trial verdicts. Amongor simple surveys, before you work with human several important statements, the Code firmlysubjects you must obtain the approval of your established the concept of informed consent.institution’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) orIndependent Ethics Committee (IEC). The IRB The Nuremberg Code stated:or equivalent committee at your institution is The voluntary consent of the human subject isresponsible for ensuring that all research done absolutely essential. This means that the personwith the institution’s participation is in line with involved should have legal capacity to give consent;international standards for what experiments can should be so situated as to be able to exerciseand cannot be done with human beings. Research free power of choice, without the interventioninvolving non-human animals and some ethically of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress,contentious work on plants is also regulated, but over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraintfalls under different sets of standards. or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subjectWhy do IRBs exist? matter involved as to enable him to make an To protect the rights and welfare of human subjects. understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an To ensure compliance with existing regulations. affirmative decision by the experimental subject To prevent conflicts of interest. there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the To ensure that all research conducted at a facility method and means by which it is to be conducted; is reviewed according to a uniform standard. all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or personWhy does an ethical person need IRB review which may possibly come from his participation inand approval? the experiment. No one can be completely objective about their The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the own work. quality of the consent rests upon each individual People underestimate the risks involved in things who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. they are very familiar with. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity. People overestimate the benefit of things that are important to them. In 1964, the Nuremberg Code was adapted by the World Medical Association into a standard forHISTORICAL BACKGROUND therapeutic research done in humans, the Declara- tion of Helsinki. The Declaration has been amendedAfter World War II, several Nazi physicians were several times since then, and continues to beput on trial for their participation in horrendously one of the international standards used for theabusive medical experiments done on concentra- conduct of clinical research. A 1975 revision of thetion camp prisoners. The first codification of Declaration established the idea of review by anethical principles surrounding the use of human independent institutional committee. Revisions tosubjects in scientific research, the Nuremberg the Declaration of Helsinki continue, but there are 24 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 34. now competing standards. Council for International the “Conference on Harmonization” or ICH) wasOrganizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) is the formed. It now brings together European, American,most dominant of them. Japanese, and other countries’ national interests related to development of pharmaceuticals. TheThe CIOMS International Ethical Guidelines for ICH has developed a separate standard, GoodBiomedical Research Involving Human Subjects Clinical Practice, to focus on both ethical andcover topics that include ethical review (the review technical issues in developing new therapeutics.committee process); informed consent, includ- It provides a framework for design, conduct,ing whether subjects are inappropriately lured to performance, monitoring, auditing, recording,participate; choices of appropriate experimental analyses, and reporting of clinical trials. It iscontrols; rules for research in especially vulnerable meant to assure that not only are human subjectsgroups such as children or the mentally ill; rules protected, but also that data from human trialsfor research on women, especially while pregnant; meets the highest quality standards.confidentiality; rights of anyone injured by theresearch to get treatment and compensation; Other harmonization efforts have produced otherand more. sets of standards. As a group, they are called the “GxPs” (with the ‘x’ acting like a mathematicalAlthough there is considerable overlap between variable, not as an initial for anything). The Organiza-the competing standards, the differences between tion for Economic Co-ordination and Developmentthem are very important, especially in lower has produced Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)resource countries. The Declaration of Helsinki standards, which are meant to improve rigor inholds that in therapeutic trials, participants are planning, performance, monitoring, reporting, andentitled to the worldwide best standard of care. archiving the results of experiments, especially inThis standard makes it difficult to test improved the fields of pharmacology and toxicology, whichtherapies that may yield better clinical outcomes are very involved in pharmaceutical development.but will not come up to the benchmark of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which is notworldwide best standard of care. yet as well-harmonized as GCP and GLP, focusesMany national ethics bodies have pulled away from on documenting the flow of products throughuse of the Declaration of Helsinki so that they manufacturing and on quality control in manu-can continue to allow research that will improve facturing of foods and drugs. Good Regulatoryhuman lives even if it is not up to the standard of Practice (GRP); Good Distribution Practice (GDP);care available to the world’s richest people. Efforts Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and others noware being made to align the standards better, but exist in science and science-related manufactur-until unified standards can be established, rules ing. The buzzword has escaped, however—therefor ethics review around the world may remain is also Good Feng Shui Practice (GFSP), Goodcontradictory and confusing. Tourism and Hospitality Practice (GTHP) and more. Countries and corporations that are using GxPTHE GxPS often insist that work done with their support must be carried out according to certified GxPIn 1990, the International Conference on Harmoni- standards. Workshops for learning the rules andzation of Technical Requirements for Registration procedures are becoming widely available.of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (usually called GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 25
  • 35. RESPONSIBILITIES BEYOND COMMITTEE WORKTHE LABORATORY You may be expected to participate in one or more committees or groups at a university. AlthoughAs a scientist at a research-oriented university or you should take this responsibility seriously, youa research institute, you may focus principally on also need to be judicious in your choice of assign-research. But you may also be required to teach ments. Some committees are very labor-intensive.classes and to train the people who work in your Others may deal with politically sensitive matterslaboratory. In addition, you may have to perform that may be difficult for a new researcher. Othervarious administrative functions at your institution, committees may deal with matters irrelevantand if you are a physician, you may also have to to your concerns as a scientist. So, before youlook after patients. accept a committee assignment, ask for a detailed description of what will be expected of you inTEACHING terms of time commitment and the nature of the decisions to be made. It may help to talk withYou may find juggling your teaching and research your colleagues about which committees areresponsibilities to be a bit overwhelming at first. important to your success and which are potentialNo matter when your teaching duties begin, take time-wasters.the time to prepare for them. If there are any“how to teach” courses offered on campus, take Your university may have a number of committeesthem, and if you can, ask permission to sit in on a that take care of issues such as promotion offew of your colleagues’ lectures to see how they faculty, hiring new faculty, ethics, human subjectshandle their classes. research, laboratory safety, teaching, awards, and long-term planning for the university. If you areBear in mind that teaching gives you an opportunity asked to serve, try to find out about the meetingto meet students who may be interested in doing schedules and workloads of these committees.research in your laboratory. There is much more Generally, committees that are responsible fordetailed discussion about teaching in Chapter 8, case-by-case review of individual applications or“Teaching and Course Design.” projects are the most labor-intensive. However, the workload of a policy committee that initially sounded light may suddenly expand when it finds Launching a research career in biomedical itself dealing with a “hot” issue. sciences in low-resource environments in Many committees, however, do give you a good disease-endemic countries is a huge challenge. return on your time investment. Serving on a Success may depend more on creativity and search committee for hiring new staff may give luck than the extent of knowledge about the you a voice in deciding who a new colleague will subject. In these environments a genius is be. You might also want to be on a committee best defined by Thomas Edison’s adage—90% ” that puts together a seminar program or scientific perspiration and 10% inspiration. meeting. This will give you a chance to invite leaders in your field to visit your institution, as Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guinea well as being a good way to bring in scientists with whom you may want to collaborate. Work on an admissions committee for graduate students might be worthwhile because it will introduce you to students who could work in your lab. A good strategy is to try to get on a committee where your expertise will be useful but you will not be overburdened. Ask the head of your department and senior faculty for advice on balancing commit- tee work with your other obligations in the early years of your career. 26 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 36. SCIENTISTS AND PUBLIC SERVICETHE OUTSIDE WORLD As your career progresses, you may be called upon to serve on boards of directors or commis-If you are based at a university or research institute, sions, or testify before government bodies on theyou may owe allegiance to several constituencies meaning of your work or its ethical or public policy—to the university or research institute that sup- implications.ports you, to your profession, and to the generalpublic that stands to benefit from your research. Treat these invitations as a serious responsibility. Again, letting those above you know that you haveTo keep your outside activities appropriate, you been invited to participate is important. If you areneed to be aware of the university’s or institute’s worried that your superiors will take these oppor-rules and expectations with regard to: tunities for themselves or resent you for having Service in professional associations. been offered such opportunities, talk to a trusted advisor about how to proceed. It may help to have Conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, a letter of invitation that clearly specifies that your including limits on consulting activities. expertise is the reason for the invitation. Relationships with the news media and with Remember, anything you say in public will reflect government and political agencies. on your institution. It is easy to be misunderstood Participating in industrial labor actions (strikes). or quoted out of context. Practicing what you want to say before the event will help you deliver your message clearly.CONSULTING You may also have opportunities to participateAs your career develops, you may find opportuni- in educating the public about science and how itties to consult with commercial entities such as affects them, at schools or at community events.biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies in These opportunities can be both enjoyable andyour own country and abroad. Both you and your rewarding.home institution stand to benefit from relation-ships that extend your reputation, add to yourknowledge and skills, and may result in practicalapplications of your discoveries. In addition, you The people you should get to know locallymay welcome the added income. But remember— should also include politicians and publicthe institution that employs you may have primary servants in the appropriate governmentclaim to your labor and your allegiance. departments. You will need their support ifMany universities with faculty involved in this kind you require funding from UN organizationsof work have developed explicit guidelines limiting like the World Health Organization and aid ” agencies like USAID.the extent of a staff member’s work with otherparties. It is critical that you know your institution’spolicies regarding your work outside the scope of Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guineauniversity or research institute employment andyour relationships with outside parties. If you areat an institution where such guidelines are notin place, it is still prudent to check in with thoseabove you before you take on a significant outsidecommitment. ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 27
  • 37. UNDERSTANDING YOUR Find out what the expectations are for independent researchers with regard to how much they shouldINSTITUTION AND HOW publish, whether they should seek outside fundingTO PROGRESS WITHIN IT and if so how much of it, and what other activities they need to perform.You have no doubt spent many years in academicinstitutions and are familiar with their overall struc- This chapter provides you with a starting point forture. But now, as fully trained scientist, you are obtaining this type of knowledge. It also discussesentering into a new set of relationships with your some of the professional responsibilities you mayprofessional colleagues. Perhaps for the first time, have to fulfill outside the laboratory, includingyou may have to deal with many of your institu- teaching and service and, in the case of physician-tion’s administrative offices. If you have done part scientists, patient care. Finally, it will give youof your training abroad, you will need to reacquaint some insights into how decisions about promo-yourself with the structure of institutions in your tions are made and how you can maximize yourown country. chances of being promoted.If your role includes being the head of a laboratoryor major project, you will need to: ORGANIZATION OF Get to know people who will support your research A “TYPICAL” UNIVERSITY efforts, including the head of your department or Although the major goal of most universities is institution and any more established researchers the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, nearby who can serve as advisors throughout the universities also need funding to support their next phase of your career. activities. A university must seek revenue from Understand how your organization is run and who a variety of sources, including, in some cases, reports to whom; in particular who will be making researchers. If you are going to work in a university decisions about how you advance in your career. setting, it can be useful to learn the paths through which decisions are made, as well as the channels Watch carefully to understand hidden power through which money flows. Universities across structures that may be important to your success. the world vary in organizational and reporting Sometimes there are people who are not technically structures, but many will have the following “in charge” but are key to your getting resources people in charge: (or in some cases have the ability to thwart your efforts). These individuals could be anyone from A board of directors or governors, which may be senior researchers to clerks. Early on, it is important composed of academic, business, and community to keep your eyes open and not to overlook or leaders who hold appointed or elected positions underestimate those around you. with specific terms. A board meets regularly to review all major policy, financial, and management Know about the organization’s research infrastruc- decisions, and may have a say in decisions about ture, including who administers the funds to run faculty appointments and promotions. A typical your laboratory, what support services are available research institution may be composed of a direc- to you, and any policies about laboratory safety tor, one or more deputy directors, section or unit and ethical issues that apply to your work. It may heads and support services that include technical be that if you are at a quite new institution or the and administration sections/units. Usually a top first researcher doing your kind of work, you will management team that includes the director, have to help your organization get up to speed on deputy directors, and heads of the technical units things like safety standards, proper accounting and and the administration will make decisions on handling of paperwork for granting agencies, and finances, appointments, promotion of personnel, international standards for work involving human and institutional advancement. subjects or collecting samples from the field. 28 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 38. C O N S U LT T H E FA C U LT Y H A N D B O O K If you take a job in a large, complex university, you will primarily report to your department or division head, or in some places to a group leader—that is, a more senior scientist who organizes the activi- ties of a group of researchers working on related aspects of a problem. If you have an appointment in more than one department, or in a department and in one of the university’s separate research centers or institutes, you may have to report to more than one individual. If you will report to more than one person, you should try as much as possible to get these lines of command and responsibility in writing as described in the previous section. A president or chancellor who has general over- information technology, regulations for research sight of the university’s academic programs and involving human subjects, patenting and licensing financial health. He or she is also the university’s issues, student affairs, and so on. public spokesperson, dealing with “big picture” Many universities are organized into smaller issues such as relationships with the government schools, divisions, departments of study, and and with other funding bodies, as well as relation- departments of research, or faculties—for ex- ships with alumni, and fundraising. ample, a large university may contain a School of A number of individuals with high-level titles— Engineering, or a Faculty of Medicine, or a Division vice presidents, pro vice chancellors, rectors, vice of Public Health and Sanitation, each headed by rectors, provosts, deans, chairs of departments, different individuals. These individuals may have directors of graduate schools, and similar positions significant input on your appointment and career may look after different areas of academic life, development. Within these units, there may be such as budgets, appointment of new faculty, smaller ones, or departments, which are also often maintenance of facilities, research funding, headed by powerful individuals.THE STRUCTURE OF ONE LARGE UNIVERSITY(drawn from a South American institution) Board Board and Office Manager Executive Secretary EXECUTIVE TEAM: President Committee Secretary Legal Secretary Exec Manager Corporate Affairs Vice President Research Exec Dir Finance Exec Dir Tech & Innov Exec Dir Operations Exec Man Exec Man Exec Man Exec Man Exec Man Man Man Cap Dev Res Admin Strategic Res Knowledge HR IT Operations & Mgmt Initiatives Mgmt Strategic Research Committee 18 Intramural Unit Directors 22 Division Managers ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 29
  • 39. CRITERIA FOR PROMOTION Structure of the South African Listed below are some of the important factors Medical Research Council that university administrators take into consid- eration when promoting a scientist. Determine President’s Office the weight that each of these factors, and other Corporate and Public Affairs Directorate aspects of your job, carries. You can find this out Legal Services through discussions with your department head or other immediate superior. Research Directorate Research Units, Groups, Centres, Research. Your research must be of a quality and Lead Programmes and quantity that contributes substantially to your Research Capacity Development scientific discipline. Publication in peer-reviewed Research Admin and Management journals in your specialty and statements from Strategic Research Initiatives individuals in your field who can testify to the Technology & Innovation Directorate quality of your research may be required. Ongoing research grant support may also be expected. Finance Directorate Additional evidence of competence includes prizes Operations Directorate and other recognitions of your work, as well as invitations to present your work at conferences. Teaching. You may have to provide evidence that you are a competent teacher and that you fulfillPLANNING FOR PROMOTION your responsibilities to your students in a consci-You are more likely to advance in your career if entious manner. Teaching is notoriously difficult toyou understand from the start how decisions evaluate, but your department may have mecha-regarding promotion are made at the institution nisms to do so. You should ask early in your teach-you are joining. Ask the head of your department ing how your efforts are evaluated so that you canor division for advice; you can then start planning be sure to perform well in the expected areas.your strategy accordingly. It may be that promo- Service. You may have to demonstrate that you aretion depends on factors outside of the department willing to work for the betterment of the university,structure. For instance, in Argentina a researcher your profession, and the public at large. Servicein a public university depends on evaluation from on departmental and other campus committees,Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas on research ethics boards, on editorial boards ofy Técnicas (CONICET), the national research journals, and on grant review panels demonstratesagency, for promotion. your willingness to assume your share of responsi- bility. Invitations to serve on editorial boards and other outside committees also demonstrate scien- tific recognition beyond your institution. Work for professional associations and work as a consultant to government and industry also may be viewed positively when considering your service to the institution. 30 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 40. SPECIAL ISSUES FOR PHYSICIAN-SCIENTISTS: Straddling the Worlds of Research and Patient Care You can increase your visibility and the stability of your job by doing the following: Create allies who will stand up and protect you. Cultivate a few people in your field who think you are terrific. Make yourself essential by providing an important clinical skill or filling a crucial clinical need. Other clinicians who know your worth can become your advocates and help protect your interests. Advocates need not be in your own department, but they should rely on you and your expertise. Get the word out that you are doing something. Actively communicate progress on your research with people who matter in your department or division. Integrate research and clinical activities and use departmental academic meetings to promote the clinical relevance of your research program.THE REVIEW PROCESS TIME FRAME FOR MOVING AHEADThe review process for promotion varies greatly Your institution may have established the exactfrom country to country and from institution to time frame for evaluating your work and for yourinstitution. You should familiarize yourself with the eventual promotion. Find out how long it typicallyprocess by speaking with colleagues who have takes for someone in your position to progressgone through it. Seek the advice of several people. from one level to the next. Once you know theMeet on a regular basis with your department time frame, set specific, achievable objectives forhead or the people who will have input into your yourself right at the outset of your career, withpromotion to review your progress and make sure timelines that tell you what you need to accom-that you are doing what is expected of you. plish each year. The whole process will seem more manageable, and you will be able to make realistic career decisions based on your progress. ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB 31
  • 41. RESOURCESBarker, Kathy. At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator. Cold Schoenfeld, A. Clay, and Robert Magnan. Mentor in aSpring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Manual: Climbing the Academic Ladder to Tenure.1998. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing, 1994.Barker, Kathy. At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator. Cold Varnadoe, Lionel A. Medical Laboratory ManagementSpring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, and Supervision: Operations, Review, and Study Guide.2002. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1996.Boice, Robert. Advice for New Faculty Members: OnlineNihil Nimus. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000. Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) offers a range of tutorials related to ethics, research reviewDeneef, A. Leigh, and Craufurd D. Goodwin, eds. processes, informed consent, good practice, and otherThe Academic’s Handbook. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Duke topics in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese andUniversity Press, 1995. Chinese at its Web site ThereGoldsmith, John A., John Komlos, and Penny Schine Gold. is both free material and material only available byThe Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable institutional subscription at this site.Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School Through Tenure. Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, aChicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. guidebook on research ethics from the Office of ResearchHarmening, Denise M. Laboratory Management: Principles Integrity of the U.S. Public Health Service, is availableand Processes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. online at, Donald. Academic Duty. Cambridge, MA: Quality practices in basic biomedical research, aHarvard University Press, 1997. guidebook on Good Practices from the World Health Organization, is available online at, Robert J., and associates. Faculty in New Jobs: svc/publications/training-guideline-publications/handbook-A Guide to Settling In, Becoming Established, and Building quality-practices-biomedical-research.Institutional Support. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999. The Good Indicators Guide: Understanding how to useNational Academy of Sciences, National Academy of and choose indicators, a guidebook from the AssociationEngineering, and Institute of Medicine. Committee on of Public Health Observatories on how to monitor andScience, Engineering, and Public Policy. On Being a improve performance, systems or outcomes, is availableScientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. 2nd ed. online at, DC: National Academy Press, 1995. aspx?RID=44584.Reis, Richard M. Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing forAcademic Careers in Science and Engineering.Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1997. 32 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 42. CHAPTER 3 GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE“THE CONVENTIONAL DEFINITION OF MANAGEMENT IS GETTING WORK DONE THROUGH PEOPLE,BUT REAL MANAGEMENT IS DEVELOPING PEOPLE THROUGH WORK. ” AGHA HASAN ABEDI You may need to attend training courses before you DESIGNING AND can order radioactive or hazardous materials or use EQUIPPING YOUR NEW LAB animals in your lab. Even the use of recombinant DNA needs to be approved in some countries. You may have discussed your space and equipment needs during your hiring process, or you may be Put in place data management systems both for moving into a laboratory that has already been in control of laboratory ordering and expenditures use and has some equipment. Either way, before and for the documentation of your research. you move in and start working, create a detailed Plan ahead. Expect major delays in delivery of bulky plan for how you intend to work within the space equipment, troubles with customs, fluctuations allotted to you. This will help you hit the ground in currency values, etc., so that these predictably running once you start your position. You should: unpredictable factors will not derail you. Envision the relationships between the various workstations, preparation areas, and any office space you may have been given. How can you PUTTING THE PEOPLE best set up your space for the work you are going YOU NEED IN PLACE to do? Staffing your lab with the right people is one of If applicable and possible, arrange for and help the most important things you can do to ensure supervise any needed renovations or the success of your research. The types of re-arrangements. people you may bring on board include students, If you can, order equipment and supervise its scientists who are not ready to lead their own lab installation. and will work in yours, and technicians or other paid employees who offer technical support. Acquire any licenses required by regulatory agencies. GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 33
  • 43. This section reviews issues to consider whendetermining your staffing needs and suggestsstrategies to help you manage the process of Quality Used Equipmentrecruiting, interviewing, and evaluating applicants.The chapter also offers guidance on what to do if Seeding Labs ( have to ask someone to leave your lab. org/), a Boston-based non-profit group that facilitates transfer of used laboratory equip-For a discussion of the skills needed to manage ment from North American universities tothe people in your lab day to day and get them to laboratories in countries that are buildingwork productively, see chapter 4, “Managing Your toward greater research capacity, may beMany Roles.” a good source for equipment that would otherwise be unaffordable.DETERMINE YOUR STAFFING NEEDSYour decisions about whether and when to take onstaff will depend on several factors, such as howmuch money you have to run the lab, the stability Purchasing research supplies is often a night-of your funding sources, the progress of your mare in most African countries. Often, no localresearch, and even your personal preferences vendor is familiar with the kinds of equipmentabout performing various laboratory tasks. In some and supplies that you need. In some cases, you have to find out yourself where and howplaces, you will not actually hire new people, but to get required supplies and then teach a localwill take on staff people who have already been vendor how to proceed. Often, even when onehired by your institution and belong to a common finds where to order supplies abroad, paymentlabor pool. In other places, you yourself will be the may become an almost insurmountable hire, and everyone else in the laboratory will For example, currency exchange issues mayalready be in place. arise: there are no project credit cards, suppli-Established scientists caution against rushing out ers often require payment up front while your financial office may require that the goods be ”and hiring people just to fill an empty lab. Before delivered before initiating bring on staff, think carefully about the con-sequences. Will you be able to hire the caliber ofpeople you want? Can you make the time to train Abdoulaye Djimdé, Malithem? Remember, you need to preserve sufficienttime and space to do your own work.If you have a choice, the first person you might Consider bringing a student on board once yourhire is a laboratory technician or equivalent. A lab is running and you have the time to invest inperson filling this versatile lab position can help training him or her. You could also hire an alreadyyou with time-consuming initial tasks such as trained scientist, for example a postdoctoralsetting up equipment and handling routine tasks fellow, who would like to work in your lab asthat keep your laboratory working. Although an a stepping stone to becoming qualified for aninexperienced person may be cheaper, you might independent position. A good strategy is to do thisbenefit more by hiring an experienced technical when your main project is well underway and youperson who can help train other staff as they have enough other projects to turn one of themcome on board. Some experienced workers over to this person and allow him or her to have acan also contribute in substantial ways to your great deal of responsibility and independence.research project. If there are trained technicians Additional considerations for working with labworking at your institution and funding available members can be found in chapter 10, “Expandingfor such positions, a technician who is familiar Your Influence: Training the Next Generation ofwith the administrative processes of your institu- Scientists.”tion can also be extremely valuable. 34 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 44. q&a your Web site, if you have one, inviting people to contact you if they are interested in working with you. If you teach, you may find some students QUESTION who are interested in learning more about your work and carrying out a research project in your What’s in a Name? laboratory. Formal Advertisements. Ask those working around you how and where the kinds of jobs you ANSWER would like to fill are advertised. If you are hiring a The title “technician” means different things scientist to train in your lab, it may make sense to in different places. In some regions, a place an ad in a science journal published in your laboratory technician may be a manager or own country. But placing formal advertisements unit director. Throughout this book, however, in print publications can be expensive and may a “technician” refers to a professional not yield good candidates, depending on who scientist who has a steady job focused on reads the journal or newspaper. It is a good idea advancing the work in your laboratory. to discuss advertising with senior colleagues who have had experience recruiting people into their labs. Advertising on your institution’s Web site is usu-WRITE THE JOB DESCRIPTION ally a free service, and in some places has a highIf you will hire staff from outside your institution, rate of success. Other resources for advertisingthe first step is to develop a job description for the for scientists with advanced degrees are Webopen position. First, identify and prioritize the initial sites and list serves maintained by professionaland ongoing lab tasks for which you need support. associations. For any advertisements you place,Then determine the qualifications needed to best make sure you follow your institution’s policies.complete these tasks and develop a general planfor allocating the person’s time. Bear in mind WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO OFFER?that the position will have to fit within your abilityto pay and that the position’s level may also be As someone who has just started his or her lab,something that is already set in stone. The pro- you may find it a challenge to recruit the peoplecess may be more complicated if unions represent you want, especially trained scientists and experi-identified groups of employees at your institution. enced lab technicians. Here are some things youFor example, you may only be able to consider can do to increase your chances:hiring union workers for certain positions. Promote your vision. When you talk to others, make sure you mention that you are hiring andGET THE WORD OUT take time to convey your vision of what your lab will be “about” (see next chapter). Your excite-Once you have a job description, the next step is to ment about your work and your lab will excite andmake sure that the people you would like to recruit interest potential staff.will see it. There are several ways to do this. Communicate your lab culture. Think aboutInformal Methods. Try to recruit by word of how to create a lab environment that allows youmouth. Ideally, you want people to seek you out. and your staff to work efficiently and harmoniously.If you work in a country with a fairly large scientific If good communication, collaboration, and coop-community, meetings and seminars where you eration are valued concepts in your lab, they canpresent your work are good venues to reach be selling points that will make people want tostudents and scientists, as well as lab technicians work with you.who are not employed by your institution.Another strategy is to include a statement on GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 35
  • 45. Convey your commitment to training. a career in this area. On the other hand, they Let potential staff know if they will be working may be looking for academic credit, funding, directly with you and that you have an interest in or recommendations for further training. Try to helping them in their careers. select students who are motivated to contribute to the productivity of your lab. Students are Offer flexibility where you can. Flexibility, often attracted to new labs because, like lab especially about assignments or research technicians, they are eager for the opportunity directions, is attractive to most job applicants. to work directly with the person who is directing Provide a realistic level of reassurance the research. Educating these students in how to regarding the stability of your funding. work in the lab can be time-consuming, especially Potential staff members are likely to be aware that for the first few months. Therefore, you may the money to pay their salaries may be coming want to sign up your first student when your lab from your research grants, or other sources that is running well and you have time to work with may increase or decline over time. each student properly. At a university, thoughtfully working with students early in your career will help you develop a positive reputation and will In Sierra Leone and more so in Papua New increase your ability to attract other students. On Guinea, members of your extended family the other hand, if your first students have negative believe they are entitled to large parts of experiences in your lab, they will quickly share this your time and attention. This is an enormous with their peers, and your ability to recruit good challenge for every working person in Sierra students will suffer greatly. Leone. You are likely to face requests for Scientists Training in your Lab. It may take employment. My advice is that you avoid two to three years for you to recruit a scientist, seeing extended family members at your work- place and ensure hiring is a very transparent for example a postdoctoral fellow, who wants process that is handled only by the appropriate to train in your lab before establishing his or her ” staff in the administration section. own lab. Most scientists in training are attracted to more established labs because they are usually better launching pads for their careers—the boss Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guinea is more famous and the publications may come faster. Nevertheless, some might be attracted by your research area, your concern for furtheringWHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR their careers, or your institution’s reputation and geographical location. If you have a good reputa-Lab Technicians. Technicians may be attracted tion from your own work, you may be able toto a beginning laboratory because they are eager recruit highly qualified individuals right away.for the opportunity to work closely with the headof the lab and are interested in learning newtechniques and being included on papers. Goodsalaries and status (related to publishing papers) I would encourage policies to hire realmay be of prime importance to more experienced postdocs, i.e. people who really want to dolab technicians. Inexperienced technicians may a postdoc in your lab and not people who forplace more value on the opportunity to gain experi- family reasons or else could not go abroad ”ence, especially experience that will help them and seek your lab as a second option.decide whether to continue with their studies.Students. Students may want to work in your lab Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentinabecause they want to pursue a career in science,or perhaps they are curious about research andwant to find out whether they should consider 36 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 46. SCREENING APPLICANTS The résumés of less-experienced lab technicians may not show a record of contributions to pub-When you review résumés, check skills against lished papers or other indicators of productivity.qualifications and look for transferable skills. Carefully check references to find out about theirAlways review résumés carefully—some applicants capabilities.may inflate their experience. Gaps in employmentor job-hopping may be signs of problems, or may For a student, speak informally with other peoplesimply reflect the job situation in your region. If who have worked with the student, including thosethe degree of job-changing seems unusual, be who may know how the student has performed insure to ask careful questions and check refer- a laboratory course. Talk to the student at lengthences, if you are able to. to see how articulate, bright, and energized he or she is. Remember, a smart but shy person mayFor an applicant to a degreed scientific position, be tongue-tied in a conversation with you—youconsider publication quality—not just quantity— are an important person, after all! Try to talk longand the applicant’s contribution. Although it may enough to draw them out and put them at easenot be realistic for someone who has just started so that you can really get a sense of their capacity.running his or her lab, try to find a scientist with When selecting students, remember that higha record of accomplishment—usually at least two grades are no guarantee of success in your lab.first-author papers—that indicates he or she willbe able to see a project through and perhaps will becompetitive for obtaining his or her own funding. CHECK REFERENCES DIRECTLYIf a technician has contributed to publications, For a variety of reasons, people rarely write neg-you should evaluate the candidate to determine ative letters of recommendation. Therefore, if pos-whether he or she has the ability to contribute sible, you should directly contact the applicants’intellectually as well as technically to the lab. references, preferably by telephone, or by email. Checking references is an important part of the selection process. It will help to verify impressions q&a gained during the interview and expose potential problems that may not have been evident in either the interview or CV. QUESTION What to Ask a Reference. When discussing What’s in a Name? an applicant with someone who has provided a reference: Describe the job and the work atmosphere you ANSWER want to create. Throughout this book, a “postdoc” refers to Ask short, open-ended questions, and avoid asking a researcher with a relatively recent doctoral questions to which the desired response is obvious. degree and intentions to move on from your You might want to ask: Why is this person leaving? laboratory to a more independent position Is he or she reliable? What are this person’s after working with and learning from you. A strengths and weaknesses? What are you most “student” refers to a trainee who is enrolled for an undergraduate or graduate degree disappointed in with respect to this person? and is working with increasing autonomy in Also, “Would you rehire this person?” is a very your lab. A “trainee” refers to a student or important question to ask. postdoc—someone who is both working for Probe for further information, and ask for examples. you and being educated by you so that he or Do not settle for yes or no answers. she may advance into another position. GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 37
  • 47. TYPES OF INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Open-ended questions cannot be answered yes or no; for example, “Tell me about yourself.” The applicant determines the direction of the answer. Directive questions solicit information about a specific point; for example, “What skills do you have for this position?” The interviewer determines the focus of the answer. Reflective questions solicit information about a past experience that might serve to predict the applicant’s future performance; for example, “Describe a time when you demonstrated initiative.” Try to determine whether your lab values are FURTHER SCREEN APPLICANTS similar to those of the reference, perhaps by asking BY TELEPHONE about the reference’s lab and philosophy. This infor- mation should help you decide how much weight If you live in a place where phones are reliable, to give to the reference. easy, and everywhere, you may want to screen promising applicants by telephone before invitingIf Possible, Contact All References. You are any of them for a formal interview. As withtrying to make a decision about someone with interviewing references, focus on asking open-whom you may be spending many of your waking ended questions. The appendix (page 44) showshours. Make sure you get the information you a sample outline that can help you in your phoneneed. To correct for bias in the responses of any interviews with applicants. (Consider developing aone reference, if you can afford it, make sure similar form for talking to applicants’ references.)you call all of an applicant’s references, eventhose overseas. If possible, it is best to obtaininformation in person or by phone, rather than by INTERVIEWING APPLICANTSemail, though sometimes email may be the onlyoption available to you (for example, if the refer-ence is difficult to reach or lives in a place that is INVITE APPLICANTS TO VISIT YOUR LABextremely expensive for you to call). You may be After you have completed the initial screening,tempted to do less when hiring for a smaller job, narrow your list of potential applicants to a reason-but think about the damage hiring a poorly-trained, able number of good prospects. If possible, invitedishonest, or threatening person could do to your each person to visit your lab for a formal, especially in jobs where firing is difficult. Remember, talking to someone by phone is no substitute for looking them in the eye. If possible,Sometimes, applicants will not give the name you might also arrange for the applicant to spendof a current supervisor as a reference. If that some time with other lab members so that theis the case, you must respect their request for others in your lab can get a sense of this person.confidentiality—the most common reason is that If you are a department head yourself and you arethey do not want to risk losing their current job. to hire trained scientists who will work relativelyHowever, you should ask why the applicant does independently underneath you, you might requirenot want you to call. You can also ask for additional that each applicant deliver a seminar to membersreferences who can provide you with information of your lab or department.about the person’s work habits, accomplishments,and history. 38 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 48. CONDUCTING A I see you have worked with [insert specific technology or technique]. Tell me about itsSTRUCTURED INTERVIEW features and benefits.The goal of the structured interview is to use astandardized set of predetermined questions to Commitment and Initiativegather key information in an efficient, equitable Why do you want to work in my lab?manner from all qualified applicants. You want to Where do you see yourself in five years?give each applicant a fair opportunity to competefor the position. Your questions should be: What kinds of projects do you want to do? Why? Outlined ahead of time so that you ask basically Tell me how you stay current in your field. the same questions of each applicant. Describe a time when you were in charge of a Job related. project and what you feel you accomplished. Short and open-ended, like those used when Tell me about a project or situation that required checking references. you to take initiative. Focused and designed to elicit information— Working and Learning Styles avoid asking philosophical questions. What motivates you at work?Tailor your follow-up questions to reflect each Would you rather work on several projects at aapplicant’s responses and to encourage each time or on one project?applicant to provide examples from his or her Do you learn better from books, hands-onown experiences. experience, or other people? Tell me about a project that required you to workDEVELOP THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS as part of a team. What was the outcome of theAs you develop your questions, think about how team’s efforts?to determine whether the applicant has the How would you feel about leaving a project for aknowledge, technical skills, and personal qualities few hours to help someone else?that you need. Review the job description youcreated earlier, the applicant’s résumé, and your If you encountered a problem in the lab, would younotes from your conversations with the references ask someone for help or would you try to deal withto identify any items or information gaps that need it yourself?clarification in the interview. You may be asked to work after hours or on a weekend. Would this be a problem?Sample interview questions. At the Helm: ALaboratory Navigator by Kathy Barker (see Time ManagementResources, page 44) contains a list of general How do you prioritize your work?questions as well as questions geared for specificlaboratory positions and for determining specific What happens when you have two prioritiespersonal characteristics. In addition, you may want competing for your time?to tailor the following questions to the position for Decision Making and Problem Solvingwhich you are interviewing. What is your biggest challenge in your current job?Experience and Skills How are you dealing with it? Tell me about your most significant accomplish- Tell me about a time when you made a decision ments. that resulted in unintended or unexpected Tell me the part you played in conducting a specific consequences, either good or bad. project or implementing a new approach or Give me an example of a situation where you technology in your lab. found it necessary to gather other opinions before you made a decision. GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 39
  • 49. Interpersonal Skills Listen carefully. Let the applicant do most of the How important is it to you to be liked by your talking. colleagues, and why? Develop a high tolerance for silence. Give the If you heard through the grapevine that someone applicant a chance to think and develop thoughtful did not care for you, what would you do, if anything? answers to your questions. Tell me about a situation in which your work was Give the applicant many chances to ask questions. criticized. How did you rectify the situation? This will give you some insight into what is important to him or her. Describe a scientist whom you like and respect. What do you like about that person? Never make promises or give commitments, even ones that may seem innocent to you.Cultural Differences. You may find yourselfconsidering applicants from different cultures Ask the applicant about his or her timetable forwhose beliefs, such as those about self-promotion, leaving the current job, even if you asked it duringcollaboration, and deference, may differ from your the telephone interview.own. Take this into account when conducting your Before ending the interview, do the following:interview, especially if the applicant seems to beunder-selling his or her achievements. Give the applicant a chance to add anything else he or she thinks may be important for you to know in making your decision.TIPS FOR CONDUCTING AN INTERVIEW Make the applicant aware of the next steps, such as Before you begin, try to make the applicant feel additional interviews and the time frame for hiring. comfortable. Make appropriate small talk, offer a beverage, and compliment the applicant on making Thank the applicant for his or her time. it thus far in the selection process. Remember that the applicant is also deciding whether he or she wants to work for you. EVALUATING APPLICANTS Develop professional rapport and be friendly, but Before you begin evaluating an applicant, make avoid a social atmosphere. sure you have all of the necessary information. Conduct any reference interviews you were Explain how the interview will be structured. unable to complete before the interview. Gather Briefly describe the selection process. opinions from others who have met with the applicant. As needed, seek guidance from your Outline the responsibilities for the open position. department and other relevant departments at Convey your expectations about the job. Include your university. values that may seem obvious to you, such as your commitment to lab safety and scientific rigor. MAINTAINING OBJECTIVITY Know your own local laws and customs pertaining As in any situation that involves interpreting inter- to what questions can and cannot be asked at job personal behavior, objectivity in evaluation may be interviews, and keep in mind which (if any) topics difficult. Nevertheless, try to avoid the following: must be avoided. Relying too heavily on first impressions. Take brief notes. Record actual answers to questions, not evaluative or conclusive comments. Making a decision too early in the interview, before Later, when thinking through whether to offer the asking all questions. applicant a job, you may find that these answers Downgrading an applicant because of a negative give you more insights into the applicant’s character characteristic that is not relevant to the job itself, and thinking than you were aware of when you such as a particular regional accent, or having come were sitting and talking with the person. to the interview wearing clothes that have clearly been used by generations of the family’s job seekers. 40 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 50. Allowing a positive characteristic to overshadow RED FLAGS your perception of all other traits—an applicant’s posh accent, polished presentation, or tangential Warning signs during an interview that should association with someone famous might make alert you to potential problems include: them seem impressive on meeting, but have little Unwillingness to take responsibility for something substance in the workplace. that has gone wrong. Judging the applicant in comparison with yourself. Complaining about an advisor and coworkers. Comparing applicants with each other, rather than Demanding privileges not given to others. according to the selection criteria (e.g., if you have been interviewing poorly qualified applicants, you Delaying answering questions, challenging your may rate merely average applicants highly). questions, or avoiding answering them altogether. Humor and sarcasm can be tools to avoid answer- Allowing factors not directly related to the interview ing questions. to influence your estimation of the applicant (e.g., interviewing during times of the day when you Unless you have been rude, responding to an may be tired). interview question with anger is never appropriate. Incongruence between what you hear and whatWHAT TO LOOK FOR you see (e.g., grudging replies and slouching are not signs of an eager, assertive candidate even ifIn addition to determining whether the applicant he or she is saying all the right things).has the qualifications required to perform well inyour lab, you should also keep the following points Trying to control the interview and otherwisein mind: behaving inappropriately. Consider the “chemistry.” Pay attention to your intuitive reaction to the person. Look for a person MAKING THE OFFER who is interested in and able to get along with others. Before you make an offer, check with the appropriate people in your department or your Ascertain whether the applicant is a good fit. Keep institution to learn which, if any, items related in mind that you are building your team and need to the job are negotiable and whether you are people with the skills and personalities to get responsible for negotiating them. In some institu- things done. Look for people who have a track tions, the initial salary that you can offer will be record of productivity and have demonstrated an set for you. In others, you may be given some ability to learn new skills. leeway within a predetermined range appropriate Seek someone who has a passion for science and for the job description. a strong work ethic. Enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, Once you have identified the person you wish to and the willingness to go the extra mile are critical hire, contact him or her to extend the offer and attributes. discuss start date, salary, and other conditions of Check the applicant’s career plans. Knowing what employment. Be sure to check with the appropriate the applicant wants to be doing in five or ten office in your institution first to determine whether years can give you insight into his or her scientific you or they will make this contact and cover these maturity and creativity, as well as his or her issues. commitment to a specific research area. Be certain the applicant is committed to good INFORM ALL OF THE APPLICANTS research practices. Recordkeeping and reporting First, inform the person you have selected. If he results are even more important now than in the or she turns down the offer, you can move on to past because of patent and other legal issues. your second choice. Insist on the highest level of scientific integrity from anyone you are considering. GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 41
  • 51. Once you have filled the position, try to let the Multinational Organizations are hiring our other applicants know of the outcome of the inter- people away! view. You do not need to give a specific reason for your decision not to hire an applicant. However, Brain drain continues to be a major problem you may state that the selected candidate had in the developing world, where NGOs and the private sector pay better salaries than govern- better qualifications or more relevant experience ment research institutes. Dealing with brain or that it is your policy not to disclose this informa- drain can be quite frustrating; however, one tion. Check with the appropriate people at your should continue to recruit appropriate person- institution about their own personal policy or the nel to fill in vacancies. Those recruited should institution’s personnel policy in this area. be given an opportunity to train in short- and long-term courses that are relevant to their work areas. Once settled in the research THE OFFER LETTER programme, they should also be encouraged After you and the selected candidate have con- to be a part of the ownership of the research firmed the job details, you or your institution might programme, and to make presentations on send a formal offer letter that confirms the offer some of the research aspects of the work terms, including start date and salary. Coordinate that is being done. Presentation of research with the appropriate administrative staff at your findings at national and international fora is institution to determine what information to include. usually a big motivator, because it promotes If hiring does not involve an administrative office, collaborative linkages between personnel in make the offer and clearly establish the start date, your lab and other labs, and these linkages may generate a lot of research ideas between salary, and allowances and pensions where these groups. Delegation with responsibility to junior are applicable. It is a good idea to put the details researchers also builds confidence and gives on paper in case disagreements arise later. them a sense of ownership of the research programme. In countries where salaries are low, personnel should be allowed to do ASKING STAFF TO LEAVE part-time jobs that are related to research, Despite your best efforts, you may at some point e.g. teaching at the local university to supple- need to ask someone to leave your lab. Before ment their salaries. All research ideas that are brought forward by research personnel, considering dismissal, be sure that you have tried especially junior members, should be taken various avenues to help the person be successful in into consideration and explored for substance, your lab. This may include assistance with scientific ” no matter how silly they may sound. techniques or counseling for behavioral issues. Also, be certain that your dissatisfaction is based on objective observations, not your personal biases. Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe Try to determine whether you think the person would be better off in another lab or should con- Yes, it is a problem, but not a major one for sider another career. For students and scientists, now. The solution is creating an attractive this usually means talking with that person and his environment, clear career paths, stable social environment, etc. High salary is not always the or her advisors, if any. It may be best to suggest ” most important incentive in keeping staff. to someone that research is not for them if you truly believe the profession is not suited to his or her talents or personality. You can provide that Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali person with encouragement and suggest other career options, especially ones of similar stature. There are no hard and fast rules about how a manager should address performance or behavior problems in the lab. However, keep in mind the following, especially if you are thinking about letting someone go:42 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 52. Be fair. IF YOU DECIDE TO TERMINATE No surprises. An employee with serious work-related problemsFairness dictates that lab members receive some is a disruptive force and, especially in a smalltype of notice about unsatisfactory performance. lab, can significantly retard research progress.Make sure the person knows your concerns and is Although it is not easy to decide to terminategiven a reasonable opportunity to respond and turn someone, those investigators who have had tothings around. release staff say that in retrospect their biggest mistake was not doing it sooner.WHEN IT BEGINS TO LOOK LIKE Questions to ask yourself before letting some- one go. If circumstances permit, you should askFIRING MAY BE NECESSARY yourself the following questions and documentIn many places, an institution’s disciplinary and each of the actions before proceeding:dismissal procedures are based on the country’s Have you given the person at least some type oflabor laws, and in some places workers are quite notice or warning?aware of their labor rights. Termination proceduresmust be correctly carried out according to the law, Have you made it clear to the person what he orand so should be directed by someone who has she is doing wrong?experience with them—usually someone in a Human Has the person received counseling or assistanceResources or other administrative office. When you in learning new or difficult tasks? If so, how much?believe that someone should be let go, consult withcolleagues to determine whether there are legal Are you treating (or have you treated) the personprocedures to keep in mind, and if available, seek differently from other staff in your lab?help from whatever institutional office deals with Are you following written procedures and institu-personnel issues early on in the process, at least to tional policies?advise you on how to move forward legally. Manyacademic institutions publish their procedures on Does the documentation in the personnel filetheir Web sites. support the reason for discharge?Keep in mind that delivering a warning or giving an How to Terminate. Ask the appropriate individualsemployee a chance to “straighten up” may help at your institution or department how to terminateyou turn a bad situation into a good one without staff. Often, a termination will involve a meetingresorting to dismissing a worker. between you and the individual you are terminating. During the meeting, remember to:KEEP A RECORD Be polite.It is a good idea to outline and set expectations for Stay focused on the issue at hand. Get to the pointthe performance and conduct of everyone in your quickly. Explain the decision briefly and clearly. Dolab. Do not expect your employees to read your not apologize or argue with the employee in anmind about what you want them to accomplish and effort to justify your you want them to accomplish it. Avoid laying blame. Arrange to have scientific materials and equipmentDELIVER A WARNING and supplies returned to you, including lab note-Warnings should be delivered by you, calmly and books, protocol books (unless it is a personal copy),in private. Listen to the employee’s point of view lists of laboratory resources and information onand explanation. Develop a plan for addressing any experiments still in progress, and keys.the problem with benchmarks and timelines. You Let the employee have an opportunity to have his ormay want to commit your action plan to writing. If her say, and pay close attention to what is being provide advance notice, employees will not besurprised when you take forceful action concerningunsatisfactory performance or behavior. GETTING STARTED: EQUIPPING YOUR LAB AND HIRING PEOPLE 43
  • 53. If there is an office that handles employee benefits, refer the employee to them for a discussion of eligibility for any benefits the institution may have APPENDIX provided. Telephone Interview Outline Take notes that document this meeting and convert them into an informal or formal memo to file. Date: Candidate: Try to part on cordial terms. Science can be a small world, and your paths may cross again. Investigator’s Questions (Use open- ended questions, and ask for examples.)Termination Letters and References. As part of To see if we might fit, give me an idea offinal documentation, a termination letter may be what you are looking for.required by your institution or by law. In addition,you may be asked for, or may wish to offer, a What are your goals for this position?reference. Check with the appropriate staff at your (short-term expectations, long-term plans)institution about proper procedures. Tell me about yourself as a scientist:Immediate Dismissal. Sometimes the reasons for What are your strengths?dismissal are more acute: dishonesty, endangering What are your weaknesses? What do you want to learn?others, or other unusual behaviors may make it What are you looking for in a supervisor?necessary to immediately remove someone fromthe lab. You should get advice from your colleagues What is your preferred interaction style?on how such a firing is normally done. How will you (with me, with others, on joint projects)get any keys they may have or prevent them from Timing, current jobre-entering the premises? It may be that you shouldhave the person removed from the premises by Visa statuslocal or campus authorities, for example, and that Investigator’s Commentstheir personal effects will be sent to them later. Background, interests, goals The projects we are working onRESOURCES What I am looking forBarker, Kathy. At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator. ColdSpring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2002. What I expect (enthusiastic, interested, communicative, a hard worker,Online responsible)Austin, Robert D. “Managing Knowledge Workers.” Science’ (April 26, 2002), http://sciencecareers. What I will offer (be there, help, communicate, support career witharticles/1470/managing_knowledge_workers/. communication about goals, funding Extensive resources on firing: http://www. [e.g., length of time]) The university, department, townSeeding Labs’ website is Timing, constraintsSiering, Marlene. “Hire the Best.” Denver Business Journal(November 17, 1997), This interview form is adapted from one developed bystories/1997/11/17/smallb2.html. Tamara L. Doering, Washington University School of Medicine.University of Michigan Employment and Executive Services.“Conducting a Successful Employee Selection Process,” of Michigan Employment and Executive Services.“Electronic Recruitment Resources,” 44 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 54. CHAPTER 4 MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES“I KNOW THE PRICE OF SUCCESS: DEDICATION, HARD WORK, AND AN UNREMITTING DEVOTION TO THE THINGS YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN. ” FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT The day has finally come when you take up your The chapter is organized in four sections. The first new position. At least in the space of your own provides a definition of leadership in the context bench (and in some readers’ cases, maybe across a of directing a scientific laboratory. The second whole institution), you are the boss! What got you describes a process for developing a vision for here is your creativity and scientific expertise. But your laboratory. Your main role as a leader will be you will quickly realize that the day-to-day opera- to organize and motivate the people in your lab tion of the laboratory—the projects that get done, to enact this vision. The third section is about dif- how time is spent, which needs get priority—also ferent leadership approaches and how you might requires strong leadership and management skills. proceed as you develop your individual leader- ship personality and style. The fourth discusses This chapter describes the skills involved in leading the role of the laboratory leader in building and and managing a group of people, but many of the sustaining an effective team—that is, how to principles here can be applied if you only manage communicate with the people with whom you yourself and your day-to-day work, even if you are work, how to motivate them, how to make deci- still under the authority of a more senior scientist sions and resolve conflicts, and how to set and who directs the project of which your work is a enforce expectations and rules of behavior. part. It also offers some suggestions on how to This chapter draws from material developed by build these skills. Edward O’Neil, director of the Center for the Whether or not you are in charge of your own group Health Professions at the University of California– of workers and thinkers, the basic ideas may help San Francisco, as well as from interviews with you as you think about how to get the most out of scientists with years of experience running your resources. As you get ready to start your job, laboratory research programs. you should work through how you will manage things as your own research operation grows. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 45
  • 55. YOUR ROLE AS A RELATIONSHIPSLABORATORY LEADER A leader enables others to come together to do the work at hand in a unified manner. Thus, a leader must:WHAT IS LEADERSHIP? Build and manage teams, including people whoseBefore getting into the details of your responsibili- time and efforts you do not directly control (e.g.,ties as the head of a lab or head of a project, it is from other labs or groups).probably worthwhile to consider the definition ofleadership. Leadership is getting a group of people Steer others to see things your way and to do theirto turn a vision of what needs to be accomplished work in ways that can advance your projects asinto a reality, a history of accomplishment. Leader- they advance their own.ship starts with a vision that a leader makes into Create an environment where people are able toreality by accomplishing tasks. A leader’s reach give and receive feedback.expands when he or she can sway others to helpadvance his or her own vision. Thus, building Motivate and support the people working on yourgood relationships with others is a key element of project in your laboratory or performing workleadership. outside your responsibility but essential to your success.In practical terms, a leader must perform a num-ber of functions, from understanding the scale and Delegate responsibility to others when possible.scope of the problems to be addressed to coming Make fair decisions and manage conflicts.up with a scientific strategy; from motivatingpeople to managing budgets and resources. Communicate and listen. Be sensitive to the motivations of people aroundVISION you—understand what they want and need from their personal lives and their own careers and howA leader must create a vision and set direction for those needs affect their behaviors.the lab (see “Creating Your Vision as a Leader,”page 50). This means developing a clear idea Be an advisor and teacher to others, as well asof what you are doing, not just with your hands seeking good advice for your own advancement (see chapter 10, “Expanding Your Influence:on any given day, but in a larger sense. It means Training the Next Generation of Scientists”).thinking through and clearly stating what you wantto accomplish over the course of your scientificcareer, and choosing the right people, projects, TASKSand opportunities to accomplish those goals. A leader also manages the activities of labDeveloping a vision is not a small effort. In fact, it members, whether that means managing a largeis central to your success. All scientists have limited group or the activities of only yourself and perhapstime and limited resources. Only by developing a helper. This requires the leader to understandgreat research questions that fit your own individual the core activity that he or she is responsiblestrengths and the unique resources available to you for directing. Beyond a basic knowledge of theat your institution or in your country can you thrive. scientific tools and processes used in the lab, to advance your work you must also be able to: Design projects and determine time frames for successfully carrying them out (see chapter 6, “Project Management”). Create budgets (see chapter 7, “Getting Funded”). 46 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 56. Seek funding and publish papers (see chapter 7, CHOOSE A BEHAVIOR “Getting Funded,” and chapter 9, “Increasing YOU WANT TO MODIFY Your Impact: Getting Published”). Say a conflict arises between two people working In some cases, teach courses in your laboratory—their projects have converged (see chapter 8, “Teaching and Course Design”). and now they are competing against each other Juggle many different demands at once over who should take charge. You realize that you (see chapter 5, “Managing Your Time”). should be keeping closer tabs on the experiments being done by everyone in your lab, and on theIt is not necessary to be a technical expert at interactions among people. How could you traineverything. But a leader has to understand how yourself to stay better informed on the progressand why various scientific approaches to a problem of their work? What could you do that would helpwork and how to choose between possible strate- you stay more generally aware of the tensionsgies for solving the problems using the resources between the people around you?available. CHOOSE A SPECIFIC GOALLEADERS AND MANAGERS: FOR CHANGING YOUR BEHAVIORWHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? You should choose a goal that is as specific asAlthough the words leadership and management possible, and state it in clear, measurable terms.are often used interchangeably, they do not mean For example, a goal that states “I will becomethe same thing. A leader influences the opinions better at communicating with people in the lab”and attitudes of others to accomplish a shared is not very useful, because it is neither clear howgoal. A manager, on the other hand, is primarily you will go about reaching that goal nor easy toan administrator who makes sure that people assess whether you have succeeded. You will beand processes are in place to achieve the desired more likely to achieve a goal that states “I willgoal. Managers need to be able to plan, budget, meet weekly with the person who is workingorganize, and solve problems, in order to keep on project x to discuss in a direct and open waya complicated system of people and technology progress on the project and any issues that mightrunning smoothly. As head of a scientific effort, be affecting the work.” This way you will be ableyou will need to be both a leader and a manager. to tell if you have or have not followed through.DEVELOPING DETERMINE A TIMELINELEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR COMPLETIONSome of the leadership skills mentioned above, You should set realistic deadlines for assessingsuch as articulating your goals clearly enough to your progress. For example, “In one month, I willdevelop a vision statement, may come easily to know what everyone in the lab is working on andyou. Others, such as motivating people in your will have set up regular scheduled meetings withlab or delegating responsibility, may prove more each person so that it will become routine to talkdifficult. “Leadership development” is the process about the progress of the work.”of improving your leadership skills. Just as you setyourself a course for acquiring and improving yourscientific skills, you can set yourself one or severalgoals for becoming a better leader, and make aplan for achieving them. Here are some tips onhow to go about it. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 47
  • 57. ASSESS YOUR PROGRESS HOW TO IMPROVE YOURFrom the beginning you should have clearly stated LEADERSHIP SKILLSthe expected outcomes of your goal, so that Improving leadership skills is often a process ofyou will know whether you have achieved them. trial and error, but there are some more system-The questions you want to be able to answer are: atic ways of going about it. How do I know I have been successful? Who are the other people who will notice and LEARN BY OBSERVING be affected? To help you define and achieve a specific goal, What difference will they notice? identify someone who does what you would like to do. For example, if one of your limitations isYou can gauge whether your leadership skills are that those who work with you frequently seem totruly improving. First, are you accomplishing more believe that you do not appreciate their work, youand moving more effectively toward achieving may want to observe how another leader recog-your goals? It may be useful to open channels nizes and rewards the people in his or her group,for feedback. This involves asking people in your and then try using the same kind of action in yourlab and your colleagues for feedback on how own lab. Though everyone likes to be rewarded,you measure up against your desired model you may be surprised to find that simply saying(see “Giving and Receiving Feedback,” page 59). out loud things you think should be obvious—In some places, “the boss is the boss,” and it may “I am proud of your consistently excellent work”seem paradoxical to suggest opening yourself up or “you set a good example for everyone whento feedback from those who work under you. But you do your work so carefully”—can go a longyou can ask for helpful input about your own man- way toward solving the problem. Seeing a col-agement style without undermining your authority. league make this kind of comment may remindFor example, you can say explicitly, “I set up you to do it more often yourself.these regular meetings with you because I want You will need to practice and probably cannotto be sure that you and I are communicating well copy your colleague directly, because to be naturalabout your day-to-day progress. Now that we’ve any approach you try will have to suit your owndone a few, what is your impression of how these personality and situation. Similarly, you probablyconversations are changing things in the lab?” have colleagues and friends who are good publicYou might see evidence of success when you speakers, cool under pressure, effective at manag-learn that the lab is having a problem with an ing time, or skilled at running meetings. You canexperimental protocol before it becomes a crisis, observe these people and identify factors thatrather than after. It does not make you a weaker make them good at these things, and then try toleader to ask questions that let you check whether adopt these behaviors yourself. You may also askyou are communicating as clearly as you think you these colleagues for feedback on the skills you areare. As your communications improve, people developing and seek advice on your own behaviorworking with you might notice that overall, they and progress. They will likely be flattered (seeare better informed about how research in the lab chapter 10, “Expanding Your Influence: Trainingis proceeding, or they may notice that meeting the Next Generation of Scientists”).regularly with you keeps their own project on It is always a good idea to stay in contact with thecourse. If there are people supervising your work, teachers who have shaped your life and work. Butthey may notice that your lab has become more this is especially important if you are starting yourproductive or that the people reporting to you are career at an institution that is just beginning to buildmore engaged in their work. up its research training. The role models for you at your institution may be few and far between. 48 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 58. In fact, even though you yourself have just finished GET TO KNOW YOURyour training, you may be the senior scientist at STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSESyour institution and thus the one that others lookto for clues about how to manage their projects. In most cases, you cannot change your personalThose who trained you will be valuable collabora- qualities, but becoming aware of them can helptors and may also give you useful suggestions you lead more effectively. You can learn to makeon how to run your laboratory, especially if you the most of your assets and work around orare building up a working group that will both do improve upon your liabilities. Also, thinking aboutresearch and train students who themselves will your personality and preferences in a formal wayneed to learn to become successful professional can make you more aware of how your personalityscientists. may shape the behavior of people around you, and help you direct and support them more effectively.If your training was done almost entirely abroad, One useful framework for understanding persona-it is essential that you also follow the examples of lities is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test orlaboratory heads in your own country, rather than similar tools. This is not a test that hands outcoming to the institution and saying, for example, labels like “this person is neurotic” or “that person“At the Pasteur we always did it this way, and so is paranoid.” It is a questionnaire that sorts outthat is how I will run my own group.” Local senior how one person compares to others with respectscientists know how the system in the present to four factors related to and in the present institution works. Theirexample will help you avoid making serious mis- The factors let you gauge quickly whether one issteps as you develop your career. It is important oriented toward looking inward or toward lookingto pay attention to them, learn from them, and not outward when surrounded by other individuals;let your enthusiasm for other approaches come whether one is more of an abstract or concreteto be seen as signs of disrespect or feelings of thinker; whether one prefers logic or is moresuperiority to them. inclined toward trusting feelings; and whether the person is more comfortable with orderliness and structure or likes things that are “free form.” InREAD BOOKS AND ATTEND COURSES each of these four areas, neither extreme is goodGood leadership and good management are or bad—everyone uses both logic and feelings,priorities for organizations of all kinds. You can aid abstract thoughts and hard data—but knowingyour leadership development by reading books your preferences and those of the people aroundand taking university courses on the subject. you will help you understand how people act inYou could also take a World Health Organization given situations, and understanding the prefer-workshop on management, or take advantage ences of the people around you can give youof similar career development activities offered insight into what drives their habits of meetings sponsored by large professional For example, someone who loves big ideas maysocieties, non-governmental organizations, or frequently argue with another person who lovespublic-private partnerships. Many large scientific looking after page after page of data. One maysocieties offer workshops on management as think the other is “too obsessed with detail,”well as on scientific issues in the days just before while the other may think, “it is all ‘what if’ to youtheir annual meeting. Tuition is often charged, but —what about the real situation on the ground?”scholarships may be available—it never hurts to Once these people realize that the issue is notask. Many academic institutions provide leader- one another’s vision but rather that they look at theship/managerial courses through their business world in different and complementary ways, theyschools/economics faculties. Often such courses may be able to take advantage of one another’sare offered at convenient times for busy profes- natural strengths rather than becoming boggedsionals, such as one night per week. down in frustration about each other’s differences. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 49
  • 59. There is a great deal of commentary online about HOW TO CREATE A MISSION STATEMENTwhat these factors mean in terms of how youinteract with other people or ideas. There are many Writing a formal mission statement can providequestionnaires available online that will provide a you with a cornerstone for building the vision forMyers-Briggs score. Searching for the phrase “free your lab. This statement describes the kind ofMyers-Briggs” should find a few. Much of the research you want to do, the motivation for yourdevelopment around these personality types has research, and the kind of atmosphere in whichbeen done in North America and Western Europe, you want to work. It should take into considerationso some of what you read in these descriptions the history and current challenges of your lab and(especially in the areas of introversion and what you want to accomplish in the short and longextroversion—one’s openness to other people or term, with an eye to your future work.preference for spending time alone), will be written If your position is one of higher responsibility, yourwith cultural assumptions that may be different vision and mission will be oriented toward thefrom those in your own region. achievements of a department and institution as aA popular way to understand your on-the-job whole. The exercise of writing down a mission andstrengths and weaknesses is to seek feedback a vision may seem artificial, but it can be usefulfrom those around you, including those above you to capture “the big picture” and to refer to it nowin rank, your peers, and people you admire. You and then to see if you are spending your time andmay be surprised to find that areas you consider effort in ways consistent with movingyour special strengths are viewed by others as you closer to your long-term intentions.your areas of weakness and vice versa. Feedback As you develop your mission statement, keep infrom others can help you recognize and see past mind the following points:your blind spots. Decide what values you want for your lab (e.g., scientific excellence, discipline, teamwork,CREATING YOUR competition). You might think, “These are all good things, so why not just aspire to greatness?” ButVISION AS A LEADER the values and strengths you see as leading toMost people understand that the president of a great science may be different from those some-university or the head of a large institute must one else would pick. Someone who enjoys beinghave a vision for what he or she wants to accom- focused might thrive by picking a single scientificplish. But what about someone running a lab, or problem and focusing great efforts to solving it.someone working on one project within a larger A different person might thrive on devoting greatlaboratory? Even in a very small working group— efforts at many different problems connected by aone researcher and a technician—if there is no common thread. Some people want to have a lab where everyone collaborates on projects; othersclear vision of what drives the work and what its may prefer to have each lab member work on dis-goal is, someone may head off in his or her own tinct aspects of a scientific question without muchdirection, wasting time and potentially generating interaction. Knowing yourself—your strengths andill will. weaknesses—will help you determine what youWithout a clear shared goal, small disagreements want to accomplish and how to get it done.and normal human differences may become Consider your social, financial, and family goals, inmagnified as individuals’ own preferences may addition to your scientific ones. They will not become to overshadow what is really important for elements of your mission statement, but theydriving the work forward. Developing a vision for should help you understand what efforts andeveryone in the lab to share does not limit innova- resources you can put into your research. This, intion. Instead, it provides a foundation for creativity turn, will help determine the scope of what youfrom which new directions may be taken. If you hope to achieve.have many people working under you, a sharedvision may help them better understand how youset priorities. 50 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 60. Craft a statement that you feel comfortable communicating to your peers, superiors, and lab DEVELOPING YOUR members. It does not need to be flowery language; LEADERSHIP STYLE it should be ambitious but not a grandiose over- Your mission statement is what sets the course for statement of importance. your lab, but how do you go about directing and motivating people to accomplish this vision? TheHere are two sample mission statements: way you carry out your role as a leader is called The goal of our laboratory is to be among the most your “leadership style.” It will depend largely upon successful and respected researchers in the area your own personality and the types of experiences of cancer genetics. The ultimate goal is to help you have had up to now. For example, you may develop better therapies and cures for cancer. Our find you feel more comfortable making decisions access to patients with a unique type of cancer on your own, without seeking the input of others gives us an unusual opportunity to do excellent in the lab or colleagues. Or you may find it difficult molecular and population work. We will publish to give unsolicited feedback to your students and our work internationally and seek out excellent postdocs. After a few months, you will most likely collaborators. We will be recognized for being fair develop a style that you feel comfortable with. But and collegial colleagues in the broad cancer field management experts tell us that different styles and as the world’s experts in the cancer that is our are required for different situations and different specialty. individuals, and that you should practice using a Our lab aims to understand the mechanisms by variety of such styles to help you navigate through which cells transport proteins. In particular, we will different problems and challenges. focus on technical challenges that others have not American management gurus Ken Blanchard and been able to overcome. A main focus of the lab is Paul Hershey have written about leadership styles to train the next generation of scientists. We will in terms of a continuing spectrum of directive and create an environment that is conducive to learning supportive behavior. Directive behavior involves and testing new skills. clearly telling people what to do, how to do it, andKeep in mind that mission statements are not when to do it, and then closely monitoring behavior.operating plans or strategic maps for the lab, but Supportive behavior involves listening to people,do serve to shape those essential elements. In providing assistance and encouragement, and thenaddition, they are not static—they evolve and facilitating their involvement in problem-solvingchange with time. One could read them cynically. and decision-making. According to this model, theBut why do that? You are setting out in words your degree to which you direct and support peoplehopes for your career and maybe for your coun- who work for you is influenced by their level oftry’s role in advancing science. Think realistically, competence and their commitment to completingbut think boldly about what you can do, and think a given task.proudly about doing it where you are.If you have written a mission statement you are Blanchard and Hershey Model of Leadership Stylespleased with, try saying it over and over to the Highpeople in your lab. State it at lab meetings, when Supportive Behaviorpeople first join the lab, and when you sit down SUPPORTING COACHINGto write a paper. Every decision you make fromnow on, from hiring staff to choosing scientificprojects for the people in the lab to establishinghow communication flows, can be made with this DELEGATING DIRECTING Lowstatement in mind. It will help remind you to askyourself whether an action being considered is in Low Highkeeping with what you want to achieve and howyou want to achieve it. Directive Behavior (Adapted from a concept developed by the Center for Leadership Studies, Inc.) MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 51
  • 61. In their model, the four styles of situational DELEGATING TASKS AND AUTHORITYleadership are: Many heads of laboratories are reluctant to del- Directing. This style puts a high focus on getting egate because they fear losing control or power. tasks done and a lower focus on relationship. When Delegation is important, because it will relieve you the person you are supervising is not yet qualified of some of the lab’s day-to-day responsibilities. or is not sufficiently motivated to carry out a task Assigning responsibility does not lessen your independently, then you need to tell him or her role in the lab. It merely gives you time to handle precisely what to do at each step. For example, more tasks that suit your position than you could you may take this approach with a technician who if you had not passed along some of the work that has just started working in your lab and needs to can be done by another person. Also, delegation learn an important technique that he or she will be serves to empower and motivate the people who doing routinely. work for you, and helps prepare them for the Coaching. This style puts a high focus on both responsibilities that will someday fall to them. task and relationship. You would continue to direct In deciding whether there is something you could the actions of the person you are supervising, delegate, ask yourself the following questions: but would also take the time to explain decisions, What am I doing now that I would like to see solicit suggestions, and support the individual’s someone else do? Is there a person in the lab professional development. This leadership style is who is capable of handling some of what I do and the most demanding. It requires a lot of time and willing to take on a new responsibility? What could emotional investment on the part of the leader. I do if I had more free time? One of the tasks For example, soon after a graduate student joins you may want to consider delegating is ordering the lab, you may have to show him or her differ- supplies. Although you may want to continue to ent techniques and help the student decide which involve yourself in approving purchases, someone experiments to do, but you would explain why and else can look up catalog numbers and fill in order how they fit in with the lab’s mission, so that over forms. If you make all of the reagents in the time the student will be able to work creatively, lab, you may be able to delegate that work to a confidently, and independently. trusted, careful worker. Other activities, such as Supporting. This style puts a low focus on task washing dishes or feeding research animals, could and a higher one on relationship. In a lab, the su- be passed along to less-trained individuals if you pervisor is likely to adopt this leadership style with are doing these tasks yourself. most trained scientists and experienced graduate students. For example, you would give a trained Once you have decided to delegate the scientist working in your lab the responsibility to responsibility for a given task, you need to: choose what experiments to do, but continue to Be sure you delegate the necessary authority with discuss what they are. You would also facilitate the responsibility. You may have to explicitly tell progress by, for example, helping this person find others, “This person is acting in my stead and must someone to collaborate with so that he or she can be given the priority and access to resources that get the next step of a project accomplished. you would give me if I was carrying out this work myself.” Delegating. This style puts a low focus on both task and relationship. You would turn over respon- Give clear directions and make sure they are sibility for decision-making and problem-solving understood; keep two-way communication chan- to an individual who has become more indepen- nels open. dent. For example, you might allow a fully trained scientist who is doing very well in your lab to Clearly define the responsibilities assigned to each take responsibility for the day-to-day progress of lab member, and make this information known to one of the lab’s projects, and to function within everyone in the lab. the context of that project as a fully independent Once you have delegated, follow up to make sure researcher. the job is being done, without interfering with it. 52 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 62. When you delegate authority to someone, be sure make a big difference to your group’s research to back that person up when his or her authority is productivity if you make an effort to walk around called into question. the lab frequently (on the scale of at least once a day, if you can) and informally chat with people. Distribute responsibilities fairly among members of the lab. Keeping your office door open when you do not need privacy or quiet sends the message that youKeep in mind that the people to whom you are approachable and available for scientific anddelegate may view problems that arise as personal practical questions about the work in the lab. Iffailures or as letting you down. They may there- you would like to be approachable but your manyfore put off telling you about problems. Taking the obligations prevent you from having an “opentime beforehand to communicate what should door policy,” try establishing a regular schedulehappen, and anticipating any potential problems, of hours during which people from your lab groupmay save you headaches later. You do not want to can reliably get a moment of your time withoutadd to your own burden by having to micromanage the formality of setting up an official meeting.your delegations, but sometimes putting sometime into seeing to it that the work starts off well In addition to these informal interactions, formalis all it takes to ensure a successful transition to meetings are an organized way to ensure thatyour delegates’ ability to work independently. everyone is kept informed of the group’s activities and results and for you to reiterate your expecta- tions and values. If you have time, it can beBUILDING AND SUSTAINING valuable to hold regular goal-setting and evaluationAN EFFECTIVE TEAM sessions—an annual lab retreat for discussing big picture issues, regular lab meetings involvingToday, more than at any other time in history, the full staff, and scheduled one-on-one advisoryscience is a team sport—and the teams keep meetings and performance evaluations for yourgetting bigger. Your job as a leader includes trainees and employees. Group activities such asmaintaining good working conditions so that your lab dinners or outings, held periodically, can also begroup can be productive. Recognizing and dealing important for building morale and encouraging labwith low morale or bad feeling arising among your members to think of themselves as part of a team.workers (or between your workers and yourself)requires most people to pay more attention tohuman relationships than they did before takingon a leadership role. For many kinds of work, you I would add that it is important that the boss,need to integrate people who have different kinds except when out of the lab for meetings orof technical expertise and backgrounds. Regard- other academic commitments, spend most ofless of the size of your lab or your group, there his time in the lab, arriving early in the morningare some general guidelines for keeping the team and staying late. Not to give the impressionmembers motivated and working effectively, from that being the boss one has the privilege tocommunicating and giving feedback to setting work less, no matter the nature of your work ”specific rules of behavior. They are discussed in (desk or bench).the sections below. Alberto Kornblihtt, ArgentinaCOMMUNICATING WITHIN THE LABYou should communicate with laboratory memberson a daily basis if possible. If you are still doingexperiments at the bench yourself, you will beaccessible to your lab members. But if you spendmost of your time in your office writing papersand grants or handling other responsibilities, it will MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 53
  • 63. GOOD PRACTICE FOR LABORATORY NOTEBOOKSScientists everywhere are expected to keep daily Avoiding fraud. You will be responsible for therecords of their work. These records allow work integrity of all of the work that comes out of yourto be reproduced by others and serve as a record laboratory. Checking notebooks and setting a goodof your progress and the evolution of your ideas. example by keeping exemplary records yourselfA well-kept lab notebook documents failures just will help prevent thoroughly as it documents successes, not only Defending patents. In many countries, whoeverbecause it is meant to be a fair record but also patents an invention first has rights to it. But inbecause sometimes what seems to be a failure some places, including the U.S., if you can proveturns out to be an important insight and the begin- you thought of an idea first, you own it, even ifning of a new success. Even routine procedures some-one else tries to patent it before you. Carefulshould be documented each time they are carried record-keeping can help prove your claims of priority.out. This not only reinforces the habit of keepingnotes but also preserves a record of how short- New electronic tools for laboratory record–keepingcuts, “tweaking”, or individual’s way of carrying are increasingly coming into use. So far, they haveout the work changes with experience. not been exposed to much legal scrutiny or been part of many controversies. For this reason, many labs continue to use paper records even if theyWHY ARE NOTEBOOKS SO IMPORTANT? are also using electronic systems. Spotting problems quickly. Having a look at everyone’s notebook a few times a month, and reviewing your own periodically, will help you ENSURE THAT DAILY RECORDS ARE ensure that the work in the lab is being done up KEPT OF ALL OF THE WORK IN YOUR LAB to your standards, and will let you find out quickly The precise way in which to document scientific when things are not working or when a worker is research varies from field to field and from place struggling to achieve an expected result. to place, but some general rules apply: Avoiding technical drift. When working in the Use a permanently bound book, with consecutive lab, one often comes up with “tweaks” and dated entries. Never remove pages. Sometimes, “work-arounds” that make work go faster. When especially when you have written down a bold these changes evolve, they should be noted, new insight or done a profoundly important experi- especially if they improve the work process and ment for the first time, entries should be signed should replace the original method. Keeping an by you. Periodically, they should be witnessed by eye on the lab’s notebooks will also help you spot a scientifically competent reader in case you later when an attempt at efficiency or convenience need to prove that your work came before another causes an established procedure to become less scientist’s. accurate or reliable.
  • 64. Use only pens, preferably with waterproof, solvent- KEEPING A WELL-ORGANIZED RECORDproof, and fade-resistant ink that does not smear,to write in the notebook. Organize material with sections and headings.Make sure that your handwriting is clear and that Identify and describe reagents and specimensothers can read it. used.Each entry, even for a routine task, should stand Identify sources of those materials (e.g., reagenton its own, to permit others to replicate the work. manufacturer, lot number, purity, expiration date).Entries in the notebook should be written in order Enter analytical instrument serial numbers andof the time the work was done, not grouped calibration dates.together with related work done on various dates. Use proper names for items and real verbs toLoose items like photographs, drawings, or describe how you used them.machine printouts should be permanently attachedto the notebook pages using glue or staples. Write all entries in the first person, and be specific about who did the work.Lab notebooks should not leave the laboratory area(including the researcher’s office, if it is close to Explain nonstandard abbreviations.the lab). They should not go to anyone’s home. If Use ink and never obliterate original writing; neversafety and security of the notebook is a concern, remove pages or portions of a page. If you writea locked, fireproof box in the lab is a good place to out an experiment and do not carry it out, make astore notebooks overnight. note that it was not done, including a brief expla-Laboratory notebooks usually stay with the lab in nation.which the work was done. For this reason, it can Write down some analysis of your results andbe useful for researchers to keep a personal outline new experiments, including their objectivesnotebook full of procedures, methods, recipes, and and rationale, suggested by your observations.other useful information using a second, sturdybook which they have purchased themselves. Thispersonal book, which will leave the lab, shouldnever function as a separate lab notebook.
  • 65. RESEARCH GROUP MEETINGS Depending on your circumstances, you may not have the time to meet with your lab membersMany research groups hold weekly or monthly that often, but it is important that you make anmeetings. People in the lab take turns presenting effort to communicate with them as often aswhat they have done since they gave their last possible. If you run a very large group working onpresentation. They give an introduction to the pur- several projects, teach individuals who are leadingpose of their individual project or activity, provide these projects to meet regularly with studentssome background to get others “up to speed,” or technicians working under them; you will helpshare their results and their interpretation, and them learn how to supervise and at the same timethen discuss what they plan to do next. Comments make your workload more manageable.and suggestions from the research team usuallyfollow. It is valuable to carry out formal reviews of a per- son’s progress during these one-on-one meetingsIn some labs, a group meeting is a semiformal once or twice a year. These reviews, sometimespresentation; in other labs these meetings may called “performance reviews,” spell out in writingbe more informal. For example, each person the progress the individual has made since thediscussing what he or she did that week. Informal last review and set future goals. See the Appendixmeetings tend to be much more interactive, but at the end of this chapter (page 72) for a sampleit can still be useful to schedule occasional formal six-month performance review. The review canpresentations so that the individuals training in give you an opportunity to acknowledge and com-your lab can perfect their ability to speak about ment on the person’s hard work, make note oftheir research and learn to look and act like a new skills acquired, and restate your expectationsprofessional scientist. Another idea is to have for the trainee or employee’s work in the lab.joint research meetings with other labs. It is goodexperience for your lab members to give presenta-tions to scientists outside your lab. It can help to SMALL GROUP MEETINGSclarify presentations and may bring out new ideas Some large labs also have meetings of subgroupsfrom those who are not so closely involved with working on specific projects or working withthe projects. It extends your network and that of specific techniques. This gives everyone whoyour students, which is especially useful when they is working hands-on with the project a chanceare looking for jobs or letters of reference. to consider and choose different experimental strategies to generate the best results, andONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS together consider logistics and technical matters. Small group meetings give everyone an informalRegardless of the frequency of research group opportunity to share tips and tricks, and can helpmeetings, it is useful to meet often with each keep morale up when members of the group runof the people working or training under your up against technical challenges. The benefit ofsupervision so that you can keep current with small groups like this for getting new technologiestheir progress and any problems they may be and techniques working is so large that it mayencountering in getting their experiments to work. be worthwhile to put together “user groups” ofInvite them to come into your office with their lab personnel working on the same approaches innotebooks and show you what they have been other nearby labs.working on. Many heads of labs meet with labmembers for an hour each week. They may meetwith them more frequently immediately after labmembers have finished a series of experiments orwhen they notice that a lab member is struggling. 56 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 66. STRATEGY SESSIONS these questions. Such a meeting also helps the group develop a shared understanding of theShould you decide that your research needs to lab’s direction and clarifies what needs to betake a new direction, you may want to call an done and who within the group is interested inofficial strategy session. A strategy session what aspects of the new research area. Thesehelps the group identify the next most important meetings also help you determine how potentialquestions and what experiments will answer conflicts and competing interests can be avoided. DEVELOPING A DATA MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO TRACK YOUR LABORATORY’S WORK Having an orderly system for maintaining lab procedures and information can be very useful, especially as the personnel in your working group change over time. Think about what kinds of things, from ideas to pictures of laboratory results, you would like to be able to find quickly. Then develop a system for labeling these things so that you can find them again. Once you have developed a systematic way of labeling everything you’d like to be able to find, you can use the search capacity of a personal computer to make your life much easier. A good system might name things in a way that indicated the date the item or information was generated, who generated it, what kind of resource is stored, and where more information can be found, as well as other information that may suit a given laboratory. One might index a new plasmid named pJD03, made and purified by Jane Doe on May 22, and described and recorded in the third volume of her notebook on page 79 as 20092009-05-22 /jd /plasmid prep/ pJD03/III:79 Even with this simple system, if 20 years from now you would like to remember something about a plasmid you vaguely remember a student making sometime after the Olympics in China but before the World Cup in Johannesburg, you will have a quick, simple way to find it. Integrate research and clinical activities and use departmental academic meetings to promote the clinical relevance of your research program. WHAT TO STORE Lab protocols Primary data in a form that will survive into the future CDs/DVDs Handwritten data in pen in laboratory notebooks or other high quality paper Laser-printed computer documents on high quality paper Lists of specimens and reagents Information about instruments MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 57
  • 67. JOURNAL CLUB MEETINGS Finding Good Papers for Journal ClubsThese meetings are an integral part of trainingnew scientists, and can vary in frequency from Our journal club, which focuses on infectiousweekly to monthly, or as desired. The discussion diseases, has identified 10 leading journalsof a scientific report serves to illustrate how to from which presenters are encouraged to select(and how not to) construct and test a hypothesis, articles for presentation. Presenters do have the freedom to occasionally select interestingwhat constitutes effective analysis, and how to or relevant articles from non-preferentialreport scientific findings. A journal club meeting ” journals.also reinforces the idea that reading currentpapers is essential to keeping up with the field. Inaddition, these meetings provide an opportunity Brian Eley, South Africafor you to communicate your values about sciencewhen discussing other people’s work. HOW TO RUN A JOURNAL CLUB In many research institutes, members of different labs will get together to discuss published articles in a particular field or subject. The subject can be very specialized, such as “chromatin,” or broad in scope, such as “molecular biology.” Reading and discussing articles with others who share your interests and background will really help you and the people in your lab stay abreast of current developments. It will also help more junior scientists stay motivated about their own work and learn about the elements of a sound scientific paper and study. There are many ways to hold a journal club, but in general, these meetings work best when: The group meets regularly in the same location at the same time. Responsibility for leading the discussion of articles is rotated among all of the regular participants. Articles selected for reading and discussion are of interest to the majority of the group. Everyone participates actively in the discussion of the articles. In some groups, everyone in the group reads the paper ahead of the meetings. In other journal clubs only the person leading the discussion reads the paper ahead of time and the others learn about it through his or her presentation. Most journal clubs last about an hour, with a portion of the time allotted to a presentation, followed by a question-and-answer or discussion period. Some journal clubs take place over lunch; others at other times of the day. Regardless, these meetings are more popular if some food and drinks are provided. Typically, the person leading the discussion of a particular article will review the background of the study, the rationale for doing it, the data presented, and will evaluate both the results and their interpretation. In the process, the discussion leader should address the following questions: Is the paper clearly written? What is the quality of the work described? What is the quality of the materials, methods, and instrumentation used? Is the analysis and interpretation of the data valid? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen experimental design? Are there any errors that the authors may have missed? What is the impact of these errors on the authors’ data, interpretations, and/or conclusions? What is the overall significance of this work to a particular field of study? Do the conclusions follow from the data? Are there other, perhaps better interpretations of the data than those presented in the paper? 58 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 68. these outings. After a while, they will occur more Finding Good Papers for Journal Clubs spontaneously. Do not feel that you always have to participate, and do not feel offended if you are Search on Medline for your field/subject not invited to all after-hours occasions, especially of interest. if your role in your organization puts you at a much Look through relevant journals that the higher level of seniority and responsibility than research institute/university department those on your team. subscribes to. Look at papers that your collaborators GIVING AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK have published. Giving and receiving feedback is a critical leader- Discuss papers of interest that have just ship skill. Receiving feedback from individuals in been presented at a recent conference, your lab will help you improve as a leader, and will ” especially if full papers are available. help you steer people toward your vision. In turn, giving them feedback will help them develop as Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe scientists and will ensure that your expectations are met. Even if you have a very formal manner with your lab, feedback should be given informally on a daily basis, as well as during formal meetings.INFORMAL GROUP ACTIVITIES You do not have to be everyone’s friend in the labOrganizing social occasions to celebrate a major to do this—providing small comments will do.accomplishment—publication of a paper, a team Remember that although one often notices criti-member getting a new job, the group getting a cism and correction more, positive feedback, fornew grant, and so on—is important for promoting example “Thanks for making sure this got doneyour shared vision of the lab and building morale. on time,” or “Keep trying, this is a tough technicalIn some groups, a souvenir like a copy of the problem that we need to get through, and you arenewly successful grant or celebratory champagne using a good, systematic approach to do that,” isbottle signed by the whole team, a group photo, also important.or some other lasting sign of the day is kept and When you give feedback to people in the lab, try to:proudly displayed for continued inspiration. Also,most heads of laboratories agree that it is impor- Time it well. Feedback delivered during stressfultant that lab members occasionally socialize in a times (e.g., when a grant deadline is looming) isrelaxed, non-work environment. Such get-togeth- rarely helpful, especially when either party isers can help promote a team feeling and enhance angry or elated, or when someone walked into acommunication among lab members. As you are discussion not expecting to hear critique, good orestablishing your lab, you might have to arrange bad, about the work. GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE MEETINGS Solicit agenda items and distribute an agenda before the meeting. Have clear assigned roles for the meeting—that is, who will speak, who will take notes, who will lead the discussion. For each action item on the agenda, go over discussion points, make a decision, and determine post-meeting actions. Discuss what should be on the next meeting’s agenda. Follow up the meeting with a meeting summary and a to-do-by-what-date list. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 59
  • 69. need to say explicitly “In the long run, this is the kind of problem people get fired for. But we are Components of an not at that stage yet and we will not be as long as Especially Useful Agenda we can work together and solve the problem. You and I both know that you are a good worker and Meeting title, group title, that you struggle with family responsibilities. What where it will be held, date, time can you do today that will help you get here on Meeting purpose time for the next five days in a row?” Working toward small goals can sometimes help good Desired outcome workers meet your standards. Expected preperation Present it in a constructive way. Feedback Attendees and known absences should be seen as a method for improvement rather than as a punitive step. To this end, ensure Minutes from the last meeting that the student or other trainee in the lab has a New business plan for dealing with any problems you have identified, and arrange a way to monitor progress. Other business Why does a person come to the lab late in the day Date and content of next meeting and have an erratic work schedule? Does she have a problem with getting transportation to and from the lab? Has he taken an additional job? Suggest ways to overcome these problems and agree on a deadline for re-evaluating the problem. You cannotBe specific and objective. Focus your comments organize a person’s life for them, but you can pointon first-hand data, actions, and behavior and not on out solutions, saying, for example, “Maybe stayingthe person or speculation about his or her inten- closer to the lab during the week or catching a ridetions. For example, instead of saying “You are not with someone in another part of the institutionfocused enough on your work,” or “You do not would help?”seem to care about your experiments,” think of aspecific instance that you thought was a problem. Make sure it registers. Feedback is often“We decided at our meeting that you would do subject to distortion or misinterpretation. You maythese three experiments, but you only did one.” want to ask the student or postdoc to rephrase what you have said and talk about his or herReinforce expectations. Provide feedback in assessment of the issues you raised.terms of previously outlined goals and decisions(“We decided at the last meeting...”). Avoid too much. Select the highest priority issues to start with, and remember that time andAvoid subjective statements. An example of space are needed for integrating feedback. Evensuch a statement is “I do not like the fact that you positive, well-motivated people sometimes haveshow up in the lab whenever you feel like it.” Try to think a few days to assimilate your message.instead to stick to objective arguments. “If youarrive at unpredictable times, it is difficult for other Receiving Feedback. In some cultures it is notpeople in the lab to know when they can talk to acceptable for someone working or training inyou. Many people depend on your expertise and your laboratory to give you feedback on anyneed to know when you are available.” aspects of your own performance. In suchBe very clear about what you want your systems, you are The Boss, and that is the enddiscussion to achieve. Sometimes when people of the story. So how can you get feedback if youreceive negative feedback, they feel defeated. want it?But that outcome may not help you achieve yourintended goal. If you have an excellent worker whois failing to meet your expectations for workingregular hours in the lab, for example, you may60 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 70. If possible, invite people in your lab to provide Whether or not you give a talk at the departmentalfeedback on specific issues by asking questions seminar next August may be a decision that willduring lab meetings or scheduled one-on-one not carry very serious consequences.meetings. This feedback will make you a better When do I need to make the decision?manager. Make it a point to meet with yourown supervisor, if you have one, on a regular Do I have enough information to make the decision?basis, and have lunch with senior colleagues to get How critical are the consequences of this decision?a sense of how they think your work is progress-ing and whether you are on track for achieving Who needs to know or cares about the decision Iyour scientific and career goals. If you are a very am about to make?senior scientist at your institution despite having Will I need assistance or approval from others?only recently finished your own training and havelittle hope of getting honest feedback from your If I made the same kind of decision before, can Icolleagues, it may be that old friends or trusted use the same approach?relatives can help you work through your growing Answers to these questions will help you choosepains. Past advisors may also be able to help with the most appropriate decision style, that is, thesome issues. If you have entirely trained abroad, degree to which you go at it alone or include others.however, you also need to find someone in yourcurrent social and scientific culture who can helpyou maintain your perspective and sense of humor. MAKING A DECISIONRegardless of where you get your advice, remem- IN COMPLETE ISOLATIONber that to get honest comments and suggestions, This decision style works best when you areyou must be receptive. If you respond angrily or under severe time constraints, when there is nodefensively, those in your lab and other colleagues need for buy-in from other people, when you alonewill be reluctant to give you their true opinions. As have the best insight, or when you are dealingyou are listening to a comment, try to understand with highly confidential information. For example,what the other person is saying. If something is if another scientist approaches you to collaboratenot clear, ask for clarification. If the feedback is on some experiments for a paper he is in a rushnegative, take time to think about what you heard, to publish, you may quickly decide whether it iseven if you do not agree. What behaviors might worthwhile for you to get involved. You can makehave caused these perceptions? What changes, if this decision without consulting anyone else ifany, do you need to make? the work can be done by yourself or a technician. Another example would be to decide whether to referee a paper or write a letter of reference forMAKING DECISIONS someone working in your laboratory.As the head of a new laboratory you will be makingtens if not hundreds of decisions a day, from MAKING A DECISION AFTERdetermining which emails to open and how toanswer each one, to deciding what experiments to CONSULTING WITH OTHER INDIVIDUALSdo, to choosing to hire a new researcher to work You would use this decision style when you needin your lab. In each case, the first step in making a input from others and have sufficient time to gatherdecision involves understanding the demands of information. In general, this approach improvesthe situation by answering the following questions: the quality of the decision, but you run the risk of involving people who are not really participating in How important is the decision I have to make? For example, the decision involved in hiring a the decision-making process, which may lead to new technician is a serious one. You will have to resentment or misunderstanding. For example, if interview the candidate and carefully research his approached by another researcher to collaborate or her background before you make a decision. on a project, you may ask your colleagues whether MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 61
  • 71. they know this person and what his or her reputa- SETTING ANDtion is. The head of a laboratory considering takingon a new research direction may consult with the COMMUNICATING RULEShead of the research institute or other colleagues. OF BEHAVIOR FOR MEMBERSBut the decision ultimately rests on the shoulders OF YOUR LABORATORYof the laboratory head. Do not let those you consultbelieve that they have control of your decision. A key element of your role as a lab leader is to effectively convey expectations that reflect your vision for the lab. Some expectations may apply toMAKING A DECISION WITH THE GROUP a particular group of lab members (e.g., postdocs);This decision style is helpful when you have few others may be unique to each individual. You mighttime constraints, need the buy-in or technical be formal about stating your expectations, or youexperience of the group, or need a creative may want to work with your lab members to setresponse. It is more time-consuming than the two these expectations. This can increase the likeli-discussed above, but in some cases it improves hood of buy-in and help increase motivation. Thethe quality of the decision. For example, when best way to communicate expectations is to conveydeciding whether or not to invite an individual to them continually—at the first interview, on the firstjoin your lab, you may decide jointly with existing day on the job, at lunchtime if you eat with yourlab members. Another example is if you have group, during lab meetings, and, most importantly,to decide whether or not to buy a new piece of by setting a good example yourself day by you have little experience with. There It is also a good idea to communicate in writingmay be other scientists working in your lab who your expectations about everything from expectedare more knowledgeable and can make a better work hours to dress code to how one gains accessdecision on which particular model to buy. It does to training opportunities and advancement. Havingnot diminish your authority to say to a trusted these standards written down is especially goodsubordinate, “Since you are the one who will be for new lab members and will be useful when youthe most involved in running this machine, get the are conducting periodic performance reviews. Asone that suits you best.” a general rule, you should live by the expectations you set for your lab members. Show your workersPASSING THE DECISION ON TO OTHERS that you enjoy what you are doing. Especially in the early years, be present in the lab, working sideThis happens in cases when the decision is more by side with them if your position still includesimportant to other people in the lab, or when you bench work, or showing interest in their work ifhave little competence in the area or other more your role is more administrative. They will be ablepressing priorities. The most important thing to to see how you work and what is important to you.consider in this case is that you will have to livewith the decision, whether you like it or not. The Below are some general areas you will want tolast thing you want to do is overturn a decision consider when setting expectations for people inonce it has been made. For example, you might let your lab.a senior scientist training in your laboratory decideon his or her own whether to collaborate with WORK HOURSanother scientist or where to submit a paper, ifyou believe that the trainee has good judgment Some heads of laboratories feel they should stipu-and enough experience to make a mature, late a specific number of hours per week that theyinformed decision. expect people in their lab, especially trainees, to work. But that strategy does not necessarily work well and can generate resentment if the hours 62 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 72. QUESTION q&a How do I avoid potential misunderstandings among lab members regarding work hours and time off? ANSWER The best way to handle this is to convey your expectations about work hours and time off to applicants during the employment interview or their first day on the job. For example, the amount of vacation leave varies from country to country, and the degree to which civil and religious events affect work also varies. You should let applicants know about your institution’s and your lab’s policies.demanded are far beyond normal expectations. AUTHORSHIP OF PAPERSFocusing on productivity will prove more success-ful than focusing on the number of hours or on the The inclusion and order of authors on a paperspecific hours an individual works. Nevertheless, are often sources of discord in the lab. In decid-you will probably want the members of your labo- ing who should be an author on a paper, theratory to be present during certain hours, to make Principal Investigator (PI) must consider who hassure they can interact with you and the other lab contributed to particular aspects of the work. Allmembers. Generally, your own work hours set the lab members who are involved in a project shouldpace for your group. In some places, laboratories express their expectations concerning authorshipmay be capable of running around the clock. While and credits on the resulting paper, and providein others, work is confined to the normal business their rationale for being considered as an If you want people to have access to the lab This topic is discussed at greater length in chapter unusual hours, you will need to think through Here are some guidelines to consider:issues of key control and your workers’ security The first author is normally the individual who isas well as that of your laboratory and the supplies primarily responsible for the project.and equipment in it. Occasionally, two individuals may share that responsibility. Most journals permit a statementPROLONGED ABSENCES that indicates that the first two or three authorsCommunicate your expectation that lab members listed have each contributed equally to the publica-should give you several weeks notice about an tion. This can be helpful, but remember that theupcoming vacation or their intention to spend author lists when cited in publications or on one’sa holiday or harvest period away from the area. CV will not have this statement attached.Inform them of any vacation and personal leave It is unwise to make upfront promises aboutlimits set by your institution. Your institution may authorship. You may choose to make it a policy inalso have guidelines about sick leave, study leave, your lab to wait until you know how much eachmaternity and paternity leave, funeral leave, and person has actually contributed to any given paperother adjustments for family needs. It is best to before authorship is assigned.follow these guidelines rigorously to avoidperceptions of favoritism. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 63
  • 73. WHEN THE “BIG BOSS” EXPECTS TO BE AN AUTHOR Depending on the protocol of your country or your particular institution, you may have little choice decid- ing whether your boss should be on the paper. At some research institutes, the head is on every paper, period. This may be the reality at some institutions, but around the world it is regarded as scientifically dishonest and quite unethical. There may be no other topic in this book where the gap between the right thing to do and the pragmatic thing to do is so large. Of course, if the “big boss” provided ideas or suggestions that were crucial to the development or completion of the study, he or she should be listed as an author. However, in many cases your boss will have had little input into your work. And listing this person as an author may communicate to readers that you are not an independent scientist. So how do you decide whether or not to list him or her as an author? Here are some things to consider: If this person is a recognized authority in the field of work of your study, listing him or her as an author may actually help you get the paper published. Would an accompanying letter to the journal editor from the authority, rather than the authority’s name on your paper, help as much? It is hard to know. Finding ways to truly involve the authority as a collaborator in your work may give you a strategy for maintaining your integrity. If listing your boss as an author will win you his or her favor and will help you advance in your career, it may be to your advantage to do so. If leaving the boss off your papers will ruin your position at your institution, what can you do? This is a difficult problem, though, and in some places a politically danger- ous issue to confront directly. But setting aside your integrity is never the right thing to do. In deciding whether to include someone as an SCIENTIFIC ETHICS author, ask: “Could this project have been done without this person’s conceptual or technical The best way to communicate responsible contribution?” research conduct to your lab members is to live by those values yourself. As a leader, you shouldIf you are running a lab and overseeing all of the talk about important ethical issues (e.g., scientificwork conducted in the lab, you may always be an rigor and reproducible and discrepant results)appropriate author on any paper the lab publishes. in a lab meeting or in a more informal setting.However, if you have a more senior position and Some institutions offer lectures or seminars inare in charge of several labs, you should consider scientific ethics, and you should encourage yourcarefully about when it is appropriate to be an staff to attend. This material is also sometimesauthor. The importance of your name being on the delivered at large scientific meetings or in work-paper will vary from place to place and situation to shops offered by the World Health Organizationsituation. and other agencies. 64 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 74. THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF MEDICAL JOURNAL EDITORS CRITERIA FOR AUTHORSHIP OF SCIENTIFIC WORK Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3. When a large, multi-center group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal- specific author and conflict of interest disclosure forms. When submitting a group author manuscript, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and should clearly identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals will generally list other members of the group in the acknowledgements. The National Library of Medicine indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript.PROJECT OWNERSHIP Choice. People want to make some decisions. As the leader of your group, large or small, makeThe head of the laboratory, with input from sure you give people appropriate responsibilities,individual members, usually decides what projects involve them in discussions about general scien-people in the lab work on. Some labs have strategy tific strategy, and listen to their ideas.discussions every three to four months, duringwhich everyone talks about what projects they Competence. People need the skills to do thewould like to continue or initiate. Work in the lab work that is expected of them. Check competen-is most effective and productive when members cies by asking someone to do an experiment withhave clearly defined projects that are sufficiently you, or ask appropriate questions that will help youdistinct for each person to carry out some indepen- judge the individual’s development.dent work, but at the same time the projects are Purpose. People need to understand the impor-interrelated so that no one is working in a vacuum. tance of their role in the lab and in the scientificThis way, everyone in the lab can consult with and enterprise. It is important for you to set goals thatmotivate his or her lab mates. define success for those working under you and make sure they match with what the person is doing. This matters for everyone. The scientificKEEPING LAB MEMBERS needs of your trainees are obvious, but remember,MOTIVATED an excellent technician may be driven by goals in and outside science, and that even dishwashersOne of your key roles is to motivate people to and other less-skilled helpers are working with youwork hard toward achieving your shared vision for reasons that are important to them. It is impor-and your shared interests. While different people tant to listen to what each person wants to do andrespond to different types of internal and external understand what his or her goals are. If a postdocmotivation, most people are motivated when their has decided to pursue a career in government orcontributions to the laboratory are recognized and in industry, trying to motivate him or her to followappreciated. According to Edward O’Neil, to feel in your footsteps into academia will not work. As amotivated, most people require: lab leader, you need to address your lab members’ individual goals while you work together to realize your shared vision. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 65
  • 75. POLICY ON LETTING PROJECTS LEAVE THE LAB You should develop a clear policy concerning whether you will allow scientists who train in your lab, and then leave to establish their own research programs, to take their projects with them. Communicate this policy to all scientists who join your lab. Some heads of laboratories let scientists who trained in their labs take whatever they had worked on during their stay, with no strings attached. Others will let them take only portions of a project. When you develop your policy, think about how you would want to handle a situation in which the research results are different from what you anticipated, or a situation in which the results lead to interesting new avenues of research. If you have a small research group and a focused area of research, you may not be able to allow departing researchers to take their projects with them. In that case, you might need to develop some alternatives to benefit them.Recognition. You need to provide continuous Enthusiasm. You undoubtedly love science forfeedback to those who work with you. Criticism, the thrill of discovery, of finding the answer to ancomments, and suggestions should be provided important scientific question that has never beenin the context of the given expectations. Special answered before, or helping find solutions to anaccomplishments, such as publishing a paper or intractable health problem. Share your enthusiasmgetting a difficult technique to work, require special and passion and soon others in the lab will followrecognition, such as a lab outing. your lead.Feeling Comfortable. To be able to focus on Unless also wrestling with personal problems,their work, people must feel comfortable in their poor health, or family problems, when theseenvironment. One example is that some lab mem- factors are in place, people should feel motivatedbers like to play music in the lab, while others are to work. A lack of motivation may manifest itself asdistracted by it. The working environment needs a decrease in productivity. For example, someoneto be safe and, if possible, comfortable, so that who was productive will stop producing resultsyour lab members look forward to coming to work consistently week after week. You will first needevery day and enjoy conducting research in your to determine the cause for this decrease. Is it anlab with their colleagues. interpersonal problem in the lab, an experimentalProgress. Satisfaction from achieving goals should obstacle, or a personal crisis? Discuss the problemnot be in the distant future. It is a good idea to with the lab member and see whether you canschedule individual meetings as often as once a jointly develop a strategy to address the issue orweek to set deadlines, solve problems, and plan minimize the impact of the lab member’s actionsfuture experiments. A paper is a big goal but may or distress on several years into the future. But getting anenzyme to work correctly or processing a givennumber of samples can be goals that are attainablemuch sooner, and are encouraging.66 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 76. MANAGING CONFLICT it sometimes seems justified, the mistake many scientists make is to stay in an individualistic,IN THE LAB competitive mode all the time. For example, if theConflict is any situation where one person’s head of another lab asks you for a reagent that youconcerns or desires differ from those of another have not yet cited in a publication and that one ofperson. In the lab, conflicts often arise over “turf the people in your lab is using for a project, youwars,” when two individuals are interested in may decline to share the reagent until your labthe same project. By staying on top of what each has published a paper referring to it. The decisionmember of your lab is doing, you can often spot will probably make you unpopular with the otherpotential problems and deal with them before they scientist, but you are safeguarding the interests ofbecome too serious. your lab.Many people tend to avoid conflict. But we should Accommodating. This mode is unassertive andthink of conflict as a creative part of our lives. cooperative. In other words, it is the opposite ofConflict has the potential to produce both positive competing. Accommodators often neglect theirand negative effects. Depending on how it is man- own concerns in order to satisfy the concerns ofaged, conflict can be constructive or destructive, others. The accommodating mode may be appro-stimulating or unnerving. It can produce higher priate when you want to build political capital orquality results or stifle a project; it can lead to origi- create good will, and for issues of low importance.nal thinking or cause destructive power struggles. However, keep in mind that the accommodating mode can be a problem if you keep a tally and expect that the other person will be accommodatingSTYLES OF HANDLING CONFLICT next time. For example, you and your collaboratorDr. Kenneth W. Thomas and Dr. Ralph H. Kilmann are sharing a piece of equipment that just brokeprovide a useful model for evaluating an individual’s down. He is insistent that you pay for the repairsbehavior in conflict situations. The Thomas-Kilmann since your lab uses it more. You do not agree, butConflict MODE Instrument describes a person’s you give in on this one because you know that hisbehavior in a conflict situation along two basic lab uses all the other shared equipment more—sodimensions: assertiveness, that is, the extent to it will be his turn next time a piece of equipmentwhich an individual attempts to satisfy his or her needs repair.own concerns, and cooperativeness, that is, the Avoiding. Avoidant behavior is both unassertiveextent to which an individual attempts to satisfy and uncooperative. Those who avoid conflict dothe concerns of the other person. not immediately pursue their own concerns orThese two basic dimensions of behavior can be those of others. The conflict is never addressed byused to define five specific modes of dealing with avoiders. Many times people will avoid conflictsconflict that everyone is capable of using. out of fear of engaging in a conflict or because they do not have confidence in their conflictCompeting. This conflict-handling mode is management skills. However, avoiding can be aassertive and uncooperative. A person who good strategy in cases where the person withhandles conflict in this manner pursues his or her whom you are in conflict has much more powerown concerns at the other person’s expense. than you do or when issues are not that impor-They use whatever powers seem appropriate to tant. It is also a good strategy when you need towin their position, including their ability to argue or buy time. An example of how to do this is to saytheir rank. This conflict mode works when you are “These are serious changes. I will need somedealing with a vital issue, an unpopular decision, time to think about them.”or a decision that needs quick action. Although MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 67
  • 77. Collaborating.This conflict-handling mode is teaching responsibilities. She tells you that sheboth assertive and cooperative. It is the opposite is desperate and needs you to teach a courseof avoiding. Collaborators attempt to work with for 200 students, including labs, during your firstthe other person to find some solution that fully semester. You point out that it is stipulated insatisfies the concerns of both persons. They dig your contract that your first semester would beinto an issue to identify the underlying concerns free of teaching responsibilities; however, you areof the two conflicting individuals and try to find an willing to teach a smaller, graduate-level course.alternative that meets both sets of concerns. With You of course would rather not teach anything andsuch a positive outcome, some people will profess are not contractually bound to teach in your firstthat the collaboration mode is always the best semester, but you also know that it is in your bestconflict mode to use. But collaboration takes a interest to accommodate your chair’s wishes asgreat deal of time and energy, so it should be used much as possible.only when the conflict warrants that investment Each of these conflict-handling modes has value;of time and energy. For example, if two students none is intended to be good, bad, or preferablein your laboratory are arguing over who should do in all situations. A worthwhile goal for you as thea particular experiment, you might want to spend head of a laboratory or project is to increase yourthe necessary time to carefully carve out different repertoire of responses to conflict, with the flex-projects in a way that will satisfy both students. ibility to use various modes in different situationsOn the other hand, if your students are in conflict and in appropriate ways.about which day to hold a lab meeting, it is prob-ably not worth the time and energy necessary to The people who work for you in your lab will alsocollaboratively resolve the conflict. tend to adopt one style of handling a conflict over another. You will have a mix of competitors,Compromising. On the negotiating continuum, accommodators, and avoiders. Show them bythis mode lies somewhere between assertive- example that there are different ways of handlingness and cooperativeness. The goal of the conflict, depending on the situation.compromiser is to find an expedient, mutuallyacceptable solution that partially satisfies both Resolving a conflict between lab members. Whenparties. The compromiser gives up more than the conflict occurs between two or more members ofcompetitor, but less than the accommodator. He the lab, determine whether it is necessary for youor she addresses an issue more directly than the (or someone you delegate) to step in and facilitateavoider, but does not explore it in as much depth a resolution. Usually, people will be able to resolveor detail as the collaborator. This mode of conflict their own conflicts, but make sure a conflict doesresolution is useful for decisions of moderate not fester to the point that it affects morale andimportance, when you have equal power status, the atmosphere in the lab. Here are a few tips foror when you are faced with an issue that needs to how to help resolve conflict in the lab:be resolved quickly. In general, academics tend to Try to create an environment that accepts conflict,underutilize this mode of handling conflict. as long as the difficulties are faced openly andFor example, say you are invited by a collaborator honestly by the people involved. Although differentto give a talk at his university in a different country, cultures differ in how they deal with conflict, openbut you do not want to add more days of travel to disagreement and its positive resolution is a keyyour busy schedule. You may agree to do it, but part of science. When it comes to matters oftime it so that it coincides with a meeting or other technical work issues and data, it is good to haveevent in that country. Another example is if the an environment where people feel free to expresshead of your department or university goes back differences, even if those differences are betweenon her agreement to give you a semester free of individuals who are at different levels of power, 68 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 78. STEPS FOR DEALING WITH CONFLICT When faced with conflict: Access the problem. Identify your interests. Assess the other person’s interests. Select a strategy that balances the importance of the problem, time constraints, power differences, and the relationship of the people involved.status, or seniority. The head of the laboratory RESOLVING CONFLICTS BETWEENcan actively reinforce openness by lab members, YOU AND OTHERS IN THE LABespecially the participants in a conflict episode. Itis up to you to make sure that people’s pride and Conflicts between the head of the laboratory anddignity do not become too wrapped up in matters the lab members also occur. Such conflicts areof nature. In the end, the data are the data, no important and influential in developing the futurematter which person harvested it. course of the lab, particularly during the early stages. The leader can demonstrate interest inHelp the individuals involved get together to discuss receiving and understanding negative feedbackand settle the disagreement. The head of the lab and show a willingness to learn from it, whenmay, for example, invite the people involved in a appropriate. The leader must avoid the trap ofconflict to the office at a designated time to dropping his or her leadership responsibilities anddiscuss the problems openly and honestly, and responding to the challenge by becoming “justcome to a resolution. another lab member.” In other words, as theMake sure each person understands the other’s head of your laboratory, you never have just yourpoint of view. The head of the lab can do this by interests at hand but always those of the lab assummarizing, clarifying, focusing questions, and a whole.encouraging listening by each person. MANAGING YOUR MANY ROLES 69
  • 79. RESOURCESBarker, Kathy. At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator. Cold APPENDIXSpring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press,1998. Performance Review FormBaron, Renee. What Type Am I? Penguin, New York, NY, Please complete part A in advance and1998. bring it to our meeting or email it to me.Boice, Robert. The New Faculty Member: Supporting We will discuss part B together at ourand Fostering Professional Development. San Francisco: meeting, but you might want to look overJossey-Bass, 1992. the topics.Committee on Assessing Integrity in Research Part A. Six-Month Review of GoalsEnvironments, Institute of Medicine. Integrity in Date:Scientific Research: Creating an Environment that Candidate:Promotes Responsible Conduct. Washington, DC:National Academies Press, 2002. I. Accomplishments II. Goals for the next six monthsDrucker, Peter F., The Essential Drucker: The Best of III. Long-term goalsSixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings onManagement. New York, NY: Collins Business, 2001. Part B. Joint Feedback MeetingGoleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books, I. Feedback on trainingNew York, NY, 1995. Frequency of interactionsHarmening, Denise M. Laboratory Management: Quality of interactionsPrinciples and Processes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Level of involvementPrentice Hall, 2003. Positive aspects of interactions Areas for effort/improvementKanare, Howard M. Writing the Laboratory Notebook.New York, NY: Oxford University Press 1998. II. Comments from advisor Quality of workO’Neil, John. Leadership Aikido: 6 Business Practices Organization and efficiencyThat Can Turn Your Life Around. Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Knowledge basePress, New York, NY 1999. Communication skillsReis, Richard M. Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing for Working relationshipsAcademic Careers in Science and Engineering. New York: Leadership/supervisory skillsIEEE Press, 1997. Areas for effort/improvementOnline III. Summary of discussionUniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Strengths/achievementsBiomedical Journals by the International Committee Areas for effort/improvementof Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) lays out a widely- Scientific goalsaccepted set of criteria for authorship of scientific papers. Long-term plans Lab Director:The U.S. National Academy of Engineering has a range Lab Member:of materials relating to scientific ethics available online at Date: (This form was created by Tamara L. Doering, Washington University School of Medicine.) 70 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 80. CHAPTER 5 MANAGING YOUR TIME“SUCCESS IS NOT THE KEY TO HAPPINESS. HAPPINESS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING, YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. ” ALBERT SCHWEITZER Science can move very fast and the demands it years. Try not to be overwhelmed, and at work places on your time will sometimes become large. and at home take life “one step at a time” without On top of the work itself, there will someday— worrying too much about the distant future. Your maybe now—be invitations to present your work, hard work during this start-up time will pay off, serve on peer review and advisory committees and the dividend will be a better and much less for grant makers and publishers, provide advice hectic life. to government and international bodies, and From a practical perspective, one of the most more. All of this spent time, from working hard daunting challenges for beginning investigators on a problem that has finally begun to unravel to is learning how to fit all the things that make up going away to share your expertise, advances your your life into a 24-hour day and a 12-month year. career. And much of it is exciting and pleasurable You will need to deal with the practical aspects of and helps make the world a better, safer, healthier running your lab, such as hiring staff and writing place. But there are only 525,600 minutes in a grants. There will also be the needs of your year, and science is not the only part of your life personal life, such as maintaining a household and that requires your time. How can you balance seeing to your children’s education and caring for science’s demands with those of the rest of your your extended family. You will also need to spend life—home, family, community, and self? time establishing relationships with colleagues Learning to manage your time will help you make and competitors in your own country and beyond. the most of every work day during this phase of Such demands may be even more pronounced your career. Life goes through phases—in the next if you trained abroad, because you will have few years you may be laying the foundation of already sacrificed months or years by going away, your career, raising your children, and growing in and may have also gotten used to not having to responsibility within your institution, your country, account for yourself to your institution or your and your community. It is important to tend to family quite so often. your work life and home life during these start-up MANAGING YOUR TIME 71
  • 81. If you have left your own country to train, on your STRATEGIES FOR PLANNINGre-entry you may go from being a trainee to beinga leading expert in your field, or you may come YOUR ACTIVITIESback and find yourself relatively low in the peckingorder among the trained scientists at your institu- DEFINING GOALStion. Before you even have a chance to set upyour own lab, you may be pulled away by travel, Planning is a process that starts with a goal. Oncesitting on panels, or advising other colleagues. you have set a goal, you can identify the stepsSimilarly, if you have trained in your own country necessary to move toward it. Goals come inand now have been promoted to new responsibili- descending sizes, each of which informs the next:ties, or moved to a new institution, you will face long-term goals (years), intermediate-term goalsnew challenges. (months), and short-term goals (weeks and days).Many returning scientists come home to substan- Long-term goals are likely to be a combination oftial demands from extended families who have tangibles (e.g., promotions within your institute,made large sacrifices and have placed great hope service to the government, service at a high levelin their success. The needs of parents, siblings, to an international organization such as the Worldgrandparents, aunts, uncles, and communities Health Organization or the Pan American Healthwho have made such an investment in one’s Organization) and intangibles (e.g., a satisfyingcareer are very important, but these needs can personal life and the various milestones thatalso create large time demands. In the end, trying define such a thing for you) that may change overto build a successful career at the expense of the time, making goal-setting an ongoing process thatthings that make life worthwhile does not work. you should revisit periodically. In defining yourEven though you will have to work very hard when long-term goals, you are also defining yourself—you are an early career scientist, you also need to who you want to be, and how you want to bepreserve time and energy for the other things that perceived.are important to you. Intermediate-term goals, such as publishing aFinding ways to manage all of these demands paper, are often composed of many short-termcan be a challenge for a scientist starting out in a objectives, such as preparing figures and writingcareer. This chapter discusses planning strategies text. Short-term goals are the ones written onthat are critical for successful time management, your weekly and monthly calendars—the small,such as defining long- and short-term goals and concrete, finite tasks that can swallow your time.setting priorities. Tips for day-to-day time manage-ment are also presented. The chapter also offers GETTING FROM HERE TO THEREguidance on managing institutional committeeservice commitments, balancing research and Take the time to craft a formal plan, beginningteaching, and juggling the demands of home and with your long-term goals. Then set interim goalswork. In addition, it covers some issues specific along the way that are realistic indicators ofto physician-scientists, who may also need to be progress. By setting achievable goals, you avoidspending considerable time in the clinic and may having too much to do and not knowing where tobe called on frequently to help family and friends begin. Accomplishing just one goal can serve as aget appropriate health care. powerful motivator to tackle the next goal. Write down all of your goals, with each achieve- ment tied to a specific time frame. Putting your ideas into words can help refine your thinking and provide a concrete checklist to keep you on target. Every so often, take a look at your plans, reflect on them, and revise them as appropriate to chang- ing circumstances. Priorities shift; be prepared to reevaluate yours, but also to defend them. 72 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 82. CHECK YOUR WORK: THE 90-YEAR THOUGHT EXPERIMENT Imagine how old you will be at the end of your life, if you are lucky and healthy. Now think backward. In other words, what do you want to be able to see when you look back at your life at age 90? What will you need to be doing in your life at age 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30 for that dream to come true? What needs to be true about your life and your career this year, or ten years from now, if you want to be on track to be the person you picture yourself to be at 90? If what you are doing today does not get you there, how can you change course a little (or a lot) to make sure you achieve what you want to achieve? If your track clearly leads away from your vision, does this tell you that what you think you want to be doing at 90 is not really what is right for you? Or does it tell you that what you are doing today might not be your heart’s desire? How can you prepare yourself and those around you for a life that may lead you some- where quite different from the common assumptions? Or if you want a life much like those of your parents and grandparents, how can you make science fit into that tradition?LIFETIME GOALS INTERMEDIATE-TERM GOALSAt the end of your life, looking back, what do you These goals can be achieved in six months to awant to see? Accomplishments? Wealth? Happy, year. For example, you might be thinking abouthealthy great-great-grandchildren? It is important the experiments needed to complete your nextto check in with yourself now and then to make paper or to put together a poster. Completingsure that the things you are chasing are really the publishable chunks is an essential intermediate-ones you want to catch. term goal for faculty. Other goals of similar scope include obtaining preliminary results for a grant, putting together a new course, or organizing aLONG-TERM GOALS scientific meeting.These goals can be achieved in three to five years.Before jotting down your long-term plans, first ask SHORT-TERM GOALSyourself where you want to be after this stage inyour career. For example, if you are training in a These goals can be achieved in one week to oneforeign lab, do you plan to return to your home month. They include preparing figures for thecountry or remain abroad? If you wish to remain paper you are writing, completing an experiment,abroad, for how long? A lifetime? A career? preparing reagents for the next set of experi-Until you are well-established? At what type of ments, or writing letters and making phone callsinstitution? At a research-intensive institution? to secure a seminar invitation. If you find it hardAt a university much more dedicated to teaching to get organized, make a daily or weekly to-do liststudents than to doing research? At a government and check tasks off as you complete them.ministry? An international organization? When youhave those answers, then ask yourself, “What willI need to accomplish to make myself competitivefor that job?” If you are an assistant professor, youprobably want to work toward promotion. “Whatwill I need to do for that—how many papers,invited seminars, professional meetings, and otheraccomplishments?” MANAGING YOUR TIME 73
  • 83. MAKING CHOICES MANAGING YOUR TIME DAY-TO-DAYSAYING NO, SAYING YES Many people find long-term goals easy to set—One of the simplest things you can do to stream- for example, “I want to be a professor by theline your life is also one of the hardest for many age of X.” More difficult is the daily multitaskingpeople—learning to say no. Remember, you can- —managing the flood of small chores that cannot do everything, please everyone, be available threaten to drown even the most organizedto everyone, and at the same time be a success- professional. This section covers how to makeful scholar. There are certain tasks to which you the most of the time you have.must say no, and others for which it is fine todeliver a less-than-stellar performance. Making FINDING SOME EXTRA TIMEsuch choices will allow you to focus on doingan outstanding job in what is truly important to To be able to focus and think creatively, you needyou. Establishing these priorities depends on the blocks of uninterrupted time. Here are some tipsintermediate- and long-term goals you have set to help you do this:for yourself. Get your email under control. If you are luckySaying yes judiciously will make it easier for you enough to have administrative help, have an assis-to say no to things you do not want to do. Since in tant screen messages and flag time-sensitive onesmost jobs you must accept some administrative for you. You can also print email messages thatassignments, try to make them work for you. require a personal reply and hand write responsesExplore the options, and sign up early for duties during short breaks in your day. Then have yourthat either interest you or will work to your advan- assistant type and send them later. If you do nottage professionally. This may give you leverage have an assistant, set aside specific times of theto turn down administrative duties that have less day for reading and responding to emails or takevalue to you. hard copies of your emails home and read them in the evening. Use a telephone answering machine or voice mailMAXIMIZING RETURNS service.Given the ever-increasing demands on your time, If one is available to you, invest in a family cellit is impossible to do everything perfectly. Decide phone plan—one which provides a few familywhich projects need to be completed to near per- phones and makes calls between them inexpen-fection (e.g., your grant application) and which do sive—to make sure you are available for familynot (e.g., a draft of a manuscript you are reviewing communication and emergencies when you havefor a collaborator). silenced your office phone. Close your office door or come in early. A signDISCONNECTING on your door that reads “knock if important” letsPart of saying no is also not being available on your students and colleagues know you are in anddemand. Today’s technological “conveniences” working but do not want to be disturbed. Workingare often needless interruptions to concentration. during the early hours of the day, whether at theAny sound strategy for time management involves office or lab or at home before the family is awake,learning to disconnect and become the master of might buy you precious focused time away fromthose tools rather than their servant. clamoring students and colleagues. Close your lab door if you are still working at the bench yourself. Securing uninterrupted time in the lab is important if your advancement depends on what you can get done with your own hands during the day. 74 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 84. Make and keep appointments with yourself: Find SETTING PRIORITIES a quiet hideaway for thinking, writing, and reading and use it on a scheduled basis. This practice trains On the basis of your goals, decide what you need people to expect that you will be inaccessible at to do and when, and follow the ‘keep it simple” predictable times. rule. A grid that allows you to rank short-term claims on your attention according to urgencyYou might select some milestone during the year and importance can be a useful tool (see Time—your birthday or name day, New Year’s Day, Management Grid below). Try to control the notor some other day that normally provokes some urgent/not important quadrant. You get relativelyreflection—and use that as a day to consider little value for the time spent doing tasks in thiswhether your career and life are going in the right quadrant. The urgent/important quadrant puts youdirection. Similarly, in addition to your regular day- in crisis mode, where few people operate conversations with them, it can be useful to For maximum efficiency, you should be spendingestablish for yourself a time each year for assaying most of your time in the upper right-hand quad-your spouse and family to be sure that you under- rant, on tasks that are important but not urgent.stand whether you are moving your life and theirs If it is important but not urgent, remember yourin ways that conform to what matters most to you. priorities and schedules: Plan ahead and know your deadlines.ROTATING YOUR TASKS Set aside blocks of time for specific tasks.If you tend to find it difficult to focus on onetask for long periods, you can turn this potential Break large tasks into smaller tasks.weakness into a strength through multitasking. Delegate tasks.Always have several things to work on (e.g., theintroduction to a grant, a paper to review, or a Complete tasks on time.recommendation letter to write), perhaps threeor four, and cycle through them with increasinglengths of time. Make sure they are clearlyarranged on your desk so that you do not wastetime figuring out what you should do next. Time Management Grid NOT IMPORTANT IMPORTANT Most Email Ongoing experiments Discussing weekend plans, the day’s weather, Preparing to speak at an upcoming meeting NOT URGENT the latest gossip, etc. with lab members Working on a grant that is due next month Watching World Cup matches (though in some Maintaining strong relationships with family, situations clearly this is important and urgent!) friends, and lab members A rumbling stomach 20 minutes before lunch An earthquake Ringing telephone A grant due tomorrow URGENT A salesman who wants a minute of your time Accidental exposure to pathogenTime Management Grid – Adapted from Stephen R. Covey’s time management matrix in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: PowerfulLessons in Personal Change. MANAGING YOUR TIME 75
  • 85. MAKING THE MOSTOF THE TIME YOU HAVE Technology Changes EverythingIt is important to find ways to make efficient Better communications—from email andand productive use of your time. Be aware that web applications to wireless phone servicefor some activities, it may not be immediately have made it easier for laboratories inapparent that your time spent is worthwhile. For relatively resource-poor regions to play aexample, attending seminars in your department larger part in the international scientificcan actually be a productive and efficient use of community. If you work in a place whereyour time. Not only will you learn new information, Internet access is slow, and you arebut if you ask questions, you will also boost your interested in computers and technology,visibility. it may be worthwhile for you to form a committee with like-minded individuals toEfficiency. Successful people tend to be efficient. find opportunities for upgrading to fasterThey have evolved practices to create blocks of technologies. Foreign and domestic gov-uninterrupted time for “brain work.” Here are ernments, non-government organizations,some tips to help you make the best use of those and technology companies from both theparts of the day you control: telephone and computer sides might be Create an environment conducive to productivity. willing to develop the infrastructure to im- prove your speed and connection quality. Make a place for everything, and put everything in its place. Clutter is inefficient. Do not make yourself look for the same piece of paper or pocket calculator over and over again. Fitting It All In. Successful people also learn Find or make a quiet space (or time) to work. to use small units of time, capitalizing on free Know your biological clock, and protect your most minutes here and there (in professions such as productive hours for your writing and designing law, people sometimes bill their time in incre- experiments and other critical tasks. ments of 15 minutes or less). Returning phone calls, drafting memos, and reviewing your weekly During your protected work hours, focus and do schedule are just a few ways in which you can put not allow interruptions. a few minutes to work for you throughout the day. Set time limits. Give yourself predetermined The trick is to be prepared when those moments amounts of time to complete tasks (e.g., two arise by having messages or email, students’ hours to review a paper). homework, a notepad, and perhaps a cell phone with you. Some tasks, such as reviewing papers Eliminate unnecessary tasks. and reading science magazines, adapt well to Avoid procrastination. Start tasks early—at least in commuting time if you do not drive. outline. If you have a grant due, write your goals early enough to let your lab staff start gathering IMPROVING YOUR LAB STAFF’S TIME relevant data without last-minute panic. If a critical reagent requires a long lead time to produce, start MANAGEMENT SKILLS it early enough to make sure it will be ready when Here are some tips for helping your staff work you need it. more efficiently: Structure and supervise meetings. Establish clear goals and expectations early, Delegate work. starting with simple tasks your staff can handle. Make sure they understand the tasks. Reward If it is possible and inexpensive, make a quick and correct them as appropriate, expand the tasks, phone call instead of having an often less efficient then repeat the process. back-and-forth email conversation. 76 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 86. Help them seek advice without taking up unneces- sary time. Teach them how to describe projects, The local government authorities should not issues, and problems accurately and efficiently. expect you to attend the opening of every road, school, or health center. Many public Develop an agenda for every meeting, and stick servants take pleasure in performing such ” to it. Start meetings with a clear description of the functions, but you may not have time for it. purpose of the meeting and when it will end. After lab meetings, send a follow-up email containing a summary and to-do list. Use these Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guinea informal minutes to start the next meeting and gauge progress. Meeting minutes are also useful for patent protections in establishing proof of an idea, attribution, and date. Time management is a major challenge for clinician-scientists based in resource-limitedOnce the members of your lab learn the importance settings. Clinical demands are high, which mayof time management, you can also delegate to a on occasion severely compromise protected ”key staff person the task of summarizing meetings research time.and assigning follow-up actions. Brian Eley, South AfricaMANAGINGNON-RESEARCH TASKS In some institutions, you will be required to teachIn some institutions, scientists are required to take courses to students. This can be a very rewardingpart in committees or groups that meet on a regular experience for many scientists, but can also takeschedule. Such committee duties can connect you a large portion of your time at the expense ofwith interesting people in your department, your everything else.institution, and beyond. They can also help bringyour research to the attention of your colleagues— If research is of primary importance for youra genuine plus for a beginning faculty member. On promotion and career goals, you will have to setthe other hand, they can take valuable time away limits for non-research tasks and stick to them.from your research. If you have some influence When time is up for one task, move on to the nextover which committees you will serve on, be pro- item in your daily planner. This way, you start eachactive and seek out committee service that suits day anew without carrying forward serious workyour interests and schedule so you can turn down deficits that accumulate through the week.other requests with the legitimate excuse of previ-ous committee commitments. As you begin tobuild an international reputation, you may find youare asked to sit on more committees (including inother countries), collaborate more, and perhaps becalled on for service to your government. Considersuch opportunities carefully. Though many may begood for your career and your reputation, they mayalso be exhausting because of the travel involved.As with opportunities close to home, you shouldpace yourself when accepting these obligations. MANAGING YOUR TIME 77
  • 87. THE TRIPLE LOAD OF THE PHYSICIAN-SCIENTIST: LAB, CLASS, AND CLINIC Physician-scientists may have some teaching duties, but the larger challenge for a physician who is run- ning a research lab is balancing lab and clinical time. An even split between the lab and clinic is increas- ingly rare; it can be as much as 80% lab and 20% clinic, but this varies considerably from person to person and by nature of the work. The following are some tips for working in both the lab and the clinic. In the lab: If feasible, consider hiring a lab manager, or training a strong worker to assume that role—a well- trained, responsible, seasoned researcher who can help move things along when you cannot commit your time to being in the lab yourself. Such a person may be relatively expensive compared to other kinds of workers you could hire, but what they can add to your productivity can be well worth the money. A good lab manager can help keep the lab on track while you are on clinical duties. Establish a system where you can review the lab members’ notebooks and data even if they are not there (e.g., if clinical duties keep you from being in the lab until late in the evening). Explain to your lab members that you will not be around much when you are on clinical duty. Try to schedule times when you can meet with your technicians, students, postdocs, medical residents, and other trainees to keep yourself apprised of their research and educational progress. Focus your research program on what you are uniquely qualified to do. Avoid overextending yourself with work that you could delegate to a worker with less training than you yourself have. In the clinic: If appropriate, tell patients and clinic staff how you want to be contacted during times when you are not in the clinic, especially if messages from the clinic rarely reach you when you are involved in your other duties. If you have access to support staff (many junior faculty do not), use them effectively. Educate nurses or other staff to do as much of the preparation as possible before your appointments, as well as the follow-up. Learn to tell patients when you are running out of time to spend with them or must turn their care over to another clinical worker. Make colleagues aware of your dual roles, and tell patients about your divided schedule when it is relevant to them (for example, when research-related activities will call you away from the clinic for several days during their course of treatment). Remember, in the lab, in the clinic, and at home—the most important thing you need to learn is to be flexible with your time so that you can serve all of your priorities well.78 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 88. FAMILY MATTERS In Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea,Many scientists face great demands from their where peer group discussions are the biggestextended families and communities. Although pastime activities, rumors are rife. People dothese demands matter and these relationships not believe in innocent relationships betweenare centrally important, to be successful at any men and women and working at night isprofession one may need to find ways to contain always suspicious. Attending meetings/work-and manage the time involved. shops in hotels with staff members easily creates stories. To ensure a happy home lifeThe issues can be practical—how can you be in and avoid confusion regarding after-hours labtwo places at one time? But they can also be very work, meetings, and international travel, Iemotional. If it has always been a tradition that treat my lab staff and their families as one bigyou will go home to family to help prepare for a extended family. Spouses are encouraged toholiday or a change of seasons or to help with a attend seminars. They are educated about theharvest, deciding to make another use of your need for working late at night and attendingtime, or to come in only for the feast and leave meetings. Selection criteria for internationalthe work to others, is not easy. It is even harder meetings and other perceived privileges arewhen you consider that your parents, siblings, made clear to everybody, including familyin-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, and neighbors will members. I have learnt that once your familyall have an opinion and will likely express it! This is trusts your relationship with your workmates and students, other family issues will be easya matter that is very specific to your own life, but ” to is also universal. There are no perfect solutions.But you can try to separate the practical aspectsof the situation (for example, what work requires Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guineaone more set of hands, and can you provide somehelp without providing your own hands?) from theemotional ones such as the perception that you needs to fulfill. Whatever your situation, it is prob-care more about your career and what it gives you ably true that if your family understands what youthan about the people who love you, or that you are doing, why it matters, and how it will improvehave gotten “above yourself,” or that you look the family’s future, things at home will go betterdown on those who make your life possible. than if everyone is kept in the dark about things. In addition to sharing your long-term goals, keepHOME AND WORK: your family aware of your short-term plans and projects. Letting them know in advance about anCAN YOU HAVE IT ALL? impending grant deadline can buy some under-This question applies to many professionals in standing. Here are some ways to keep your familyhigh-pressure careers, including both male and informed of your schedule, and keep you involvedfemale scientists pursuing academic, government, with your family:institutional, and industrial career tracks. Post a calendar at home with your travel datesIt helps to start with a supportive partner and and big Have clear discussions about career and Schedule activities with your family and keeppersonal goals—yours and those of your family— those commitmentsearly on. To avoid the resentments of unspokenand unmet expectations, be as explicit as possible Turn business travel into a vacation. Have yourabout your aspirations with those who are impor- partner or family join you after a scientific meetingtant to you. Shared goals for work and family make and take a few days together to unwind.compromises easier. In some families, your careerwill be a primary driver of your family’s future.For others, both spouses may have professional MANAGING YOUR TIME 79
  • 89. Having papers and grants that are free of typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors is so RESOURCES important that having “more eyes” on a document Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of is very valuable. If your spouse is interested in Stress-Free Productivity. E Rutherford, New Jersey: your work and familiar with your field’s jargon, he Penguin USA, 2003. or she may be a helpful reader for you. As children Barker, Kathy. At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator. advance in their education, those interested in Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory science might also enjoy being given a chance to Press, 2002. read your work. Boss, Jeremy M., and Susan H. Eckert. Academic Scientists at Work: Navigating the BiomedicalBALANCING WORK AND CHILDREN Research Career. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003.Unquestionably, children complicate the equation, Blanchard, Kenneth H., and Spencer Johnson. The Onebut they can also provide the sanity, personal Minute Manager. 10th ed. New York NY: Berkeleysatisfaction, and motivation to make you a more Books, 1983.focused and efficient scientist. Here are some tipsfor balancing work and family life: Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York: If they are available to you and affordable, consider Fireside, Simon & Schuster, 1990. taking advantage of options for assistance in cook- ing, cleaning, and other domestic chores that take Drucker, Peter. Managing Oneself. Harvard Business your time and energy, especially if you are having Review, March-April 1999. trouble personally living up to your own standards Ridley, Matt. The Origin of Virtue. Penguin, New York, for good meals and cleanliness. NY, 1996. Seek out the help of family members if they are nearby. Teach your children to take appropriate pride in being “self-starters” at their schoolwork and home chores. If you and your spouse both work outside the home, make the best child care arrangements you can. If you are away from your family all day, it is especially important to carve out and protect family time on evenings or weekends.Is it possible for ambitious scientists to have it all?For those who learn to balance competing demands,the answer is a qualified yes. The key is to identifywhat matters most to you and then to apportionyour activities throughout the day and week toaddress your true priorities. 80 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 90. CHAPTER 6 PROJECT MANAGEMENT“WE MUST HAVE PERSEVERANCE AND ABOVE ALL CONFIDENCE IN OURSELVES. WE MUST BELIEVE THAT WE ARE GIFTED FOR SOMETHING AND THAT THIS THING MUST BE ATTAINED. ” MARIE CURIE To increase the output of your laboratory, you can It can be tempting to over-promise when you plan, either increase resources by somehow obtaining even if you are only making promises to yourself. more money, equipment, and supplies and finding Project management’s tools help a manager a way to bring more people to work with you, or keep track of resources and worker effort, which make better use of what you already have. Often can help ensure that even if multiple delays it is not easy or possible to get more resources. and scheduling changes occur, your work will Project management is a formal approach to still go forward smoothly. In a scientific setting, better managing the resources that you do have. goals may include publishing a paper, obtaining a “Project management” is a term that has come to research grant, completing a set of experiments, mean something beyond simply being in charge or even getting promoted. While keeping creativ- of a project. It means allocating, using, and track- ity intact, project management can help reduce ing resources to achieve a goal in a desired time wasted effort or inefficient use of reagents. It can frame. There is a set of terms and a group of track progress (or lack of it), and respond quickly planning tools strongly associated with the project to necessary deviations from important aims. management approach. The approach itself is This chapter highlights some of the techniques of heavily used in the pharmaceutical industry, as project management and how you can use them. well as in software, construction, and other Though one may think, “I live in an unpredictable industries because of its usefulness in helping place!” project management can help overcome managers coordinate complex operations and some of life’s unpredictability, particularly by laying bring scarce resources into place exactly when out which tasks can go forward when other tasks they are needed. have stalled. If you need more detailed informa- tion, refer to the resources listed at the end of this chapter. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 81
  • 91. WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT? DECIDING ON A PROJECTProject management is a series of flexible and You may have an endless number of ideas foriterative steps that gives you a system for laying projects, but your resources (i.e., research funds,out what you want to achieve and a reasonable number of students and other people working inway to achieve it, with specifics as to who will do your lab, time, etc.) are limited. Deciding whichwhat and when. Formal tools have been developed projects to pursue within the limits of yourfor complicated time-sensitive efforts such as resources and considering your laboratory missionconstructing large buildings with all of the site (see chapter 4) will help you get the best use outpreparation, building materials, carpenters, of what you have.plumbers, electricians, painters and other kindsof workers moving through at the right times and Finding funding can itself be a complex the proper order. Though finding money is seldom easy, you may decide that to accomplish the research or publicThe strategies used in project management can be health goals you would like to achieve, you willuseful for anyone in any size project, and the tools need to look for more funding. Imagine that you(especially software) that have been developed have identified a grant program that seems to fitto keep track of fluctuating resources and active the work you would like to do. The grant deadlineworkers can be useful for managing complicated is in eleven months, but you see that it is a veryprojects in the laboratory. Project management competitive program. To have a chance of beingcapabilities are increasingly becoming required funded, you will need to have at least one publica-components of clinical research projects and multi- tion that connects the work you are proposing tosite projects. Formal training in project management do with the new grant money to work you havemay be available to you through your institution, done in the past.government, or international NGOs. So you have two complicated but fairly well- defined tasks in front of you: to get a new paper accepted for publication and to submit a grant It should also be borne in mind that biomedical proposal by a given deadline. If you decide to research in the South, especially in disease- use formal project management tools to organize endemic communities, relies heavily on field your efforts as you work toward submitting the surveys involving several people and proposal, you should ask yourself the following: complicated logistical issues. Personnel and What experiments do I need to conduct to write a transport management and financial adminis- research paper and submit it for publication before tration are major components of project the grant deadline? activities involving field surveys. However, many emerging science centers in low- and Do I have enough time to obtain the necessary middle-resource regions do not have sufficient data? human resources with adequate skills in ” project management. Are there members of my group who could help generate these data, or a student or trainee to whom I might delegate the work? Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guinea Once you have defined your overall objectives, how to get there, and from whom you need buy-in and participation, you can start the process of planning your project, working backwards from your stated objective: 82 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 92. My project is to get a grant funded within a time a project will take and what resources youyear-and-a-half. will need. Even if some back-of-the-envelope thinking convinces you that a project is worthThinking from the goal backwards, you can put pursuing and that you can generate preliminarydown what steps will make that dream a reality. data for your grant in five months, you will needYou might say: to plan each step more carefully to answer the following questions:I will need to: Submit the grant with preliminary data How long will the project really take? (11 months). Do we really have the people to do this? Submit a paper for publication (6 months). Do we really have the funds to do it? Integrate data and start writing a manuscript Can we get it done in time? (5 months). Think of these questions as tools for your own Complete the initial set of experiments use. You are not trying to convince a funder or (1-5 months). impress an influential scientist—you are realisticallyThe sections below outline the tools that can help considering what you will be able to get done,you plan each step of this multipart effort. One of given other demands on your time and resources,the most important benefits of project management in the next week, month, year, and that it helps you accurately anticipate how much QUESTION q&a Do the strict definitions you impose when you set up a project management system limit scientific creativity? ANSWER Not necessarily. All projects, including highly innovative ones, rely on defined resources. Project management helps you take stock of resources before you start working. If a creative idea comes along, you will have a better idea of how much money, materials, and “spare hands” you have to follow the idea through, or which sub-projects you might delay to free up the resources you need. Knowing what you have available helps you bring your best ideas to completion, rather than leaving them foundering when you run out of some critical resource. Regardless of the scientific goals of a project, project management helps you determine whether your ideas can be implemented with the resources at hand and how best to approach these ideas. If you realize ahead of time that you do not have the resources you need, you will know you need to get them. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 83
  • 93. QUESTION q&a Does project management discourage us from trying high-risk projects? ANSWER Scientists must work within the limits of their resources. This does not mean high-risk projects should not be attempted; it just means that one should know the risks involved before starting the project. Project management helps define what the risks will be. For example, you may use up all available funds before you get an additional grant or you may produce one paper in three years rather than one a year. Once you know the risks involved, you can plan for them. Project management can also help you conserve some of your resources to use for high-risk projects. The more information you have at the outset of a project, the better you will be at allocating resources. The better you are at allocating resources for the work that has to get done (e.g., the experiments proposed in your funded grant), the more likely it is that you will be able to save some funds for more speculative projects. QUESTION Given the uncertainties in science, is project management feasible? ANSWER Project management is not meant to be rigid or blindly restrictive. By reexamining goals and circumstances in a systematic way, project management encourages you to reconsider which path is best many times during the course of a given project. When resources are limited—and they almost always are, every- where—this approach helps you achieve your goals by keeping track of factors that could lead you to spread a resource too thin.GETTING STARTED PURPOSEThe statement of work is a written document Background: Why the project was initiated andthat clearly explains what the project is. It should by whom, what happens if it is not done, and whatinclude the following sections: else relates to it. Scope of work: What you will do. This is a brief statement describing the major work to be per- formed. Strategy: How you will perform the work, who will do it, and what funds are available for the work. 84 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 94. OBJECTIVES or a key premise was off-base, or that someone else has gotten very similar work published beforeObjectives are the end results to be achieved by your project has come to a conclusion.the project. Each objective should include: See Appendix I, on page 92, to see a real-life example of a statement Statement: A description of the desired outcome of work. when the project is completed. Measures: Indicators to assess how well you DEFINING THE AUDIENCE have achieved the desired outcome. Project management also uses the concept of an Specifications: Target values of the measures “audience.” Any of your audiences—the people that define successful results. and groups who have an interest in your project, who are affected by it, or who are needed toCONSTRAINTS support it—can sink the entire enterprise if their needs are not considered. Early on, you shouldThese are the restrictions on the project, which fall make a list of the project’s audiences, both withininto two categories: your institution and outside it. Although you can Limitations: Constraints set by others, such do this in your head, a written list serves as a as limited funds for your laboratory, or teaching reminder throughout the project to touch base responsibilities that will limit your research time. with these stakeholders as you proceed. If you must maintain the good favor of your department Needs: Constraints set by the project team, such chair, head of institute, minister of health, or as wanting to complete a project three weeks another high figure (or if you yourself are that high early because one of the key people will be leaving figure and must maintain the trust of your audi- the lab, or finishing a field project early enough to ences), it is useful to think about those who have avoid problems with seasonal weather. interests in your project and how to keep them apprised of and supportive of your work.ASSUMPTIONS Divide your audience list into three categories:These are statements about uncertain informa- Drivers: People who tell you what to do, definingtion you will take as fact as you conceive, plan, to some degree what your project will produceand perform the project. For example, you might and what constitutes success. You are the mainassume that your clinical or teaching loads will not driver for your research. Additional drivers mayincrease in the next year, or that no one will leave include competitors and collaborators in yourthe project before a certain milestone is reached. field, the editors of scientific journals (if they areBe aware that as your project progresses, your advising you on what experiments should be done in order to get a manuscript published), and thegoals, constraints, needs, and assumptions may scientists or administrators who will be reviewingchange. Build into your planning periodic reviews your application for funding (if their feedback isof results against objectives, and then revise the shaping the course of your research project).objectives if necessary. If a reagent has beendelayed and a whole project has been stalled as a If possible, keep those people abreast of howresult, you can re-visit the plan and think through the project is going, or consult with them beforehow to move forward. Are there later scheduled changing direction or branching out in a differentsteps that you could do sooner while you wait for area. For example, if an editor at a scientific journalthe delayed material? Should you change the proj- has requested specific experiments in a revisedect’s future milestone dates, given the delay? No manuscript but you decide to do different onesmatter how much you have invested in a project, it that you think are more appropriate or easier to dois never too late to redirect or stop work altogether given the expertise in your lab, contact the editorif you discover, for example, that another route is to make sure that the proposed experiments willmore promising than the main avenue of research, satisfy his or her requirements. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 85
  • 95. Supporters: People who will perform the work When you develop a WBS, think in one- to two- or make the work possible (e.g., the students and week increments. You probably wouldn’t want other people in your lab, as well as the program to include detailed plans for activities that take director for the organization funding the project). less time, such as experiments to be done each Make sure these people are motivated to do the day. However, the level of detail you include in work and understand how what they are doing your WBS depends in part on who is doing the relates to achieving the overall scientific goal (see work. Most students just starting in the lab will chapter 4, “Managing Your Many Roles”). need more detail than an experienced scientist or Observers: People who have an interest in your technician. It may be useful to teach your trainees project but are neither drivers nor supporters. They to think in this time- and resource-aware way, per- are interested in what you are doing, but they are haps quite early in their stay in your lab, by having not telling you what to do or how to do it (e.g., them write out detailed weekly plans or design other scientists working in your field, mentors, flow charts for how they intend to work through a and potential supporters). It can be helpful to your difficult technical issue at the bench. career to inform as many scientists as possible of To decide whether your understanding of a what you have accomplished. This can be done by particular part of the project is detailed enough, giving presentations at meetings and conferences, ask yourself these three questions. Based on the by asking colleagues to review a manuscript you WBS: are preparing to submit for publication, or by send- ing scientists in your field copies of a paper you Can you determine a reasonable estimate of the have published. resources (including people) required for this work?As you work on the project, revise the list as Can you determine a reasonable estimate of thenecessary. Categorizing audiences is less difficult time required to do this work?than it may look, and you do not have to startfrom scratch for every activity. Many of the same Can anyone charged with one of these activitiespeople are likely to be on your audience list over understand it well enough to perform it to yourtime for different activities. satisfaction? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,”DEFINING WHO DOES WHAT AND WHEN more detail is necessary.The work breakdown structure (WBS) is an outline In basic science, it is unlikely that you will be ableof all of the work that will have to be performed for to make a detailed plan very far in advance. Muchyour project. To develop a WBS, start with broad of the detailed planning will be done “on the fly”work assignments, break them down into activities, as the project proceeds. Try a rolling approach, inand divide them into discrete steps (see Appendix which you revise estimates in more detail as youII, on page 94, for an example). On your timeline, progress through the will want to list resources and the peoplewho will carry out the activities, so that you can In addition to planning experiments, you can usesuccessfully complete some milestone event—for the WBS to set up the lab and divide big tasks intoexample, getting a paper accepted, a grant funded, smaller ones—for example, ordering equipment,or a difficult technique reduced to practice. hiring staff, and dealing with any regulatory issues.The WBS is one of the most important elementsof project management as it will help you schedulethe project and its parts, estimate resources, assigntasks and responsibilities, and control the project. 86 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 96. QUESTION q&a If I have experiments A, B, C, and D, is it reasonable to do detailed planning only for A first and deal with the others later? ANSWER That may be reasonable, but what if B is not entirely dependent on A, and you could have done some work for B or any of the other experiments without waiting until A was done? Project management tools and software can help you see where timelines may overlap, so that you can use your time most productively.TRACKING THE WORK TOOLS FOR DEVELOPINGAND THE RESOURCES SCHEDULESComplex projects require a series of activities, You may have seen some of the schedules,some of which will need to be performed in timelines, flow charts, and other tools used insequence and others that can, in theory, be done project management before. Here are someat the same time. Project schedules outline the popular ones:order in which activities are to be performed,and include estimates of how long each activity Key events schedule—a table showing eventswill take. For each step of the schedule, you will and target dates for reaching them. Remember,need to assign the necessary resources, including events are milestones signaling the completion ofpeople, funds, equipment, supplies, facilities, and one or more activities.information. To effectively schedule your activities Activities plan—a table showing activities andand resources, you will need to follow these steps: their planned start and end dates (see Appendix III,1. Identify activities and events (from the WBS). on page 95).2. Identify constraints (from the statement of work). Gantt chart—a graph consisting of horizontal bars that depict the start date and duration of each3. Determine the durations of different activities and, activity (see Appendix IV, on page 96). if more than one person will be involved, who will be performing them. Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) chart—a diagram in which4. Decide on the order of performance. activities are represented by lines and events on5. Develop an initial schedule. the nodes (typically depicted as circles or bubbles). The acronym PERT, rather than the full name, is6. Revise your schedule as necessary. universally used. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 87
  • 97. The key events schedule and the activities plan in your estimates. When it comes to planningdisplay dates better; the Gantt chart and the com- bench work, an accurate assessment of the skills,bined milestone/Gantt chart give a better overview experience, and limitations of your staff will helpof how long activities will take and where they you match the right people to each task. Stretch-coincide. Regardless of which format you use, if ing to accomplish more than before is good, butyou use these tools, take the time to develop a failing because of overreaching is not. If your teamschedule you have a reasonable chance of meet- lacks the expertise required to complete a specificing. Think realistically and estimate how long each goal, you may need to find a suitable and willingstep will take, how many uninterrupted hours collaborator. Collectively, these scheduling toolsyou have available during the day, and how other will:demands on your time will affect what you or your Provide ways of tracking the work.lab can get done. If your plan includes masteringa new subject by reading a vast literature, divide Identify the order of experiments that will defineit up—how many papers do you normally read in how long it will take to complete the project.a day like today? Just because you can read 15 Show the relationship of experiments to eachpapers in a day does not mean that you will (or other (e.g., do they need to be done sequentiallyshould) bring yourself to read that much each day or can they be done in parallel?)for a month, even if there are 500 papers in a pilein front of you. Identify bottlenecks.To determine how long a very complex process As the work progresses, make adjustments tomay take, think about similar things you have done your schedule or the resources needed. Forbefore. Flip through your notebook or calendar example, time estimates can be replaced withand try to remember—how many hours did it actual times. In cases of delays in the schedule,really take you to write, edit, get feedback on, additional resources, more money, or moremake figures for, revise, revise again, and submit helpers may be needed to make up for the timethat last paper or grant? Try to be conservative that has been lost. If you can get those resources, you may be able to finish within the time frame you initially planned. But if you cannot get those q&a resources, at least you can accurately revise your estimate of how long it will take to finish the project. QUESTION DO I HAVE THE RESOURCES? It sometimes takes longer than I think it will to complete new experiments. Once you have made an outline of the activi- How do I plan accordingly? ties to be done in a given time frame and who will perform the work, you may want to know more precisely how much of a given resource ANSWER the project will use up. For example, how many The work breakdown structure will help you hours a scientist in your lab will have to work see where inherent difficulties in experiments each week to complete his or her activities (see or bottlenecks in the procedures are; you Appendix V, on page 96), or how much money can then add time and resources to address will be spent. This will help you identify potential those issues. For example, you might pair bottlenecks that have been created by your an experienced member of your lab with a starting assumptions. For example, even the best, new student who is responsible for a step in hardest-working, most committed scientist cannot the protocol, or give a technician who has to work 37 hours a day! establish a new technique in the lab time for several trials and revisions of the procedure. 88 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 98. QUESTION q&a I have done some experiments so many times that I already know how long it will take and the resources I need. Should I add these experiments to my plan? ANSWER Not for your benefit, but you should consider whether others need to know what you are doing—the sequence of steps as well as the materials and time required. If they do, a written work plan can also be a useful part of the record. Project management is not just a planning tool, it can also be a training and communication tool. QUESTION Despite the best explanations, inexperienced students may focus only on their part of the work. Are there devices to help them get the big picture? ANSWER It is important that they do get the big picture, and project management may be part of the solution. Although it is true that project management encourages a focus on details, it also encourages you to consider the big picture. Think of a project’s detailed plan as being like a metabolic map—if students can see how their work connects to a greater whole, they may be more motivated to think about their own small projects and to ask bigger questions about the lab’s work and the broader field. Young students may be reluctant to admit what they do not know. By walking them through the field’s complicated issues and ongoing controversies, you can convey to them that it is alright not to know everything, and customary to ask others to explain things. Get them to talk about what they are doing, and paraphrase what they say, highlighting the places where their work intersects with other work in the lab. Or, you could ask them to write a statement of work for their part of the project, which will require them to learn the background on the project as a whole.PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE spot, for example, resource conflicts (such as one person assigned to three overlapping activities),As you can see from the figures, many of project and identify which activities can be delayed tomanagement’s tools can be produced by hand accommodate that problem without jeopardizingor with a spreadsheet program like Microsoft the schedule. Good software helps you brainstormExcel. If you are keeping track of a simple project the organization of activities on screen, create ainvolving only one or two individuals, you can WBS, link activities, develop a schedule, identifyprobably use a network diagram drawn on a board resources, maintain information on progress,or in an electronic document. But as the number and generate reports. When you make a change,of projects and responsibilities you juggle grows, the software reflects the impact of that changeyou may want to make use of one of the many throughout the packages available. They can help you PROJECT MANAGEMENT 89
  • 99. Microsoft Project, a program that seamlessly inte- engineering or business schools, who would begrates with Microsoft Office applications including eager to polish their skills (and get a line for theirOutlook and its calendar, is a very popular choice. resume) by doing the work needed to transferThe software lets you enter any number of tasks already established plans onto the computer.and schedule them. You can then view the datausing multiple formats (e.g., Gantt charts orPERT diagrams). You can also enter cost for each CONTROLLING THE PROJECTresource and the software will automatically Effective project management demands that thetrack the spending of the project. Other popular components of a project be constantly monitoredchoices are the packages Act! (Symantec Corp.) and revised with new information. The head of aand Now Up-to-Date (Qualcomm, Inc.). Free Open laboratory typically plays this role in addition to theSource packages including Open Workbench and following tasks:OpenProj are now available. For information aboutother products available, see http://www.project- Championing the project for the project (e.g., through seminars and informal updates to supporters) and maintaining their support for theLike other software, project management programs work being done.come with bells and whistles you may never needor use. Remember that software is merely a tool to Clearing away obstacles for the project team, forhelp you plan and organize your work. It should not example by minimizing other responsibilities forbecome your work, bogging you down in complex the team members and providing a supportivemanipulations or fancy graphs and charts that look and comfortable work environment.impressive but do not improve on simpler presen- Providing resources such as funds, access totations of the information. essential equipment, and technical skills.After some short training on these software Communicating the project vision to keep thepackages, it is straightforward to build new plans. team motivated and focused.Several fields, including construction and someareas of business management, make extensive Communicating with the head of the institution,use of this kind of software. If these programs individuals from funding agencies, journal editors,are in common use in your area, you may be and the external to find undergraduate students, especially in QUESTION q&a How do I finish projects when key people are recruited away before our work is finished? ANSWER Project management can help you anticipate and plan for their departure. Identify who is most likely to leave and the places in the project when loss of key personnel would be especially damaging. When it does happen, stop and assess the impact on your project and determine steps you can take to minimize the effects. 90 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 100. Monitor the project carefully and consistently to The principles of project management can be promptly identify detours from course. applied to many day-to-day tasks. I completed Implement contingency plans and revise your a course with the University’s Faculty of Engi- master plan as necessary. neering in 2004 and since then have used the principles of project management to complete As a scientist, you want your work to be worth- ” many small and large projects successfully. while, even if it does not proceed the way you planned or produce the expected outcome. To Brian Eley, South Africa get the most out of your investment of project resources, learn to work through the “what-ifs” by positing multiple possible outcomes and time- lines and planning ways to deal with each one.KEEPING YOUR WORK ON TRACKIt is hard to predict how the course of a projectwill run. Flexible planning is needed to help you RESOURCESdeal with the unexpected and still keep your many Barker, Kathy. At The Helm: A Laboratory Navigator.projects moving. Here is a list to help you stay on Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratorytrack: Press, 2002. Consider different scenarios to identify what may Burke, R. Project Management, Planning, and Control not unfold as you anticipate, and identify the range Techniques, 4th Edition. Protomatec International, 2004. of ramifications and how you would address them. Harmening, Denise M. Laboratory Management: Select aspects of your project that are most likely Principles and Processes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: to slow things down, for example, a student Prentice Hall, 2002. who is not familiar with interpreting experimental Heldman, Kim. Project Management JumpStart. Alameda, results and thus may slow progress, or a techni- CA: Sybex, 2003. cian who does not aggressively follow up on Henry, John B. (Ed.). Clinical Diagnosis and Management maintaining equipment or placing orders with by Laboratory Methods. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, supply and reagent companies. Monitor them 2001. closely to avoid roadblocks. Hudson, Jane (Ed.). Principles of Clinical Laboratory Develop strategies to reduce the likelihood of Management: A Study Guide and Workbook. Upper deviations, as well as contingency plans for any Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. that occur. Kemp, Sid. Project Management Demystified. New York: Create indicators or defined results (such as a McGraw-Hill, 2004. completed Western blot or a clearly interpretable Lewis, James P. Fundamentals of Project Management: experimental finding) that will help you evaluate Developing Core Competencies to Help Outperform the the project against your stated objectives. The Competition. New York: American Management indicators should be clear and should directly Association, 2002. relate to your objectives. Poorly chosen indicators are worse than none at all, and may cause you to Luecke, Richard. Managing Projects Large and Small: abandon a project when in fact the objective may The Fundamental Skills to Deliver on Cost and on Time. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003. be sound. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 91
  • 101. Martin, Vivien. Managing Projects in Health and Social Billows, Dick. Work Breakdown Structure. 4PM ProjectCare. London: Routledge, 2002. Management Certification and Training. http://www.4pm. com/articles/work_breakdown_structure.htm.Portny, Stanley E. Project Management for Dummies.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2000. Portny, Stanley E., and Jim Austin. “Project Management for Scientists.” (July 12, 2002),Project Management Institute. Guide to the Project Body of Knowledge. Newtown Square, PA: /previous_issues/articles/1750/project_management_Project Management Institute, 2000. for_scientists.Sindermann, Carl J. Winning the Games Scientists Play. Portny, Stanley E. “Project Management in an UncertainCambridge, MA: Perseus Book Group, 2001. Environment.” (August 23, 2002),Usherwood, Tim. Introduction to Project Management in Research: A Guide for New Researchers. Bristol, /previous_issues/articles/1820/project_management_in_PA: Open University Press, 1996. an_uncertain_environment.Online NICEF/ UNDP/ World Bank/ WHO Special ProgrammeAustin, Jim. “Management in the Lab.” for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR).(September 13, 2003), http://sciencecareers.sciencemag. Effective Project Planning and Evaluation in Biomedicalorg/career_development/previous_issues/articles/1890__1/ Research (Training Manual). Geneva, Switzerland: Worldmanagement_in_the_lab. Health Organization, 2005.Austin, Rob. “Project Management and Discovery.” Effective project planning and evaluation (September 13, 2003), http:// biomedical research, a training manual and step step guide to project management from WHO/TDRprevious_issues/articles/1890__1/project_manage- publications/trainers-project-planning-course. APPENDIX I: Statement of Work: A Real-Life Example SECTION 1: PURPOSE Background Teresa, a scientist training in the laboratory, wants to examine the possible role for alterations in the gene Sumacan in prostate cancer. She noted that Sumacan, which encodes a growth factor receptor, maps to a genetic region involved in human prostate cancer. Current studies in the lab focus on the role of Sumacan in brain tumors. Robert, another scientist training in the laboratory, is screening drugs that block Sumacan function; Anna, a graduate student, is elucidating the functional pathways Sumacan is involved in; and David, a graduate student, is performing a mutational analysis of the Sumacan gene. These same studies can be applied to prostate cancer, thereby opening up new potential avenues for funding through prostate cancer foundations. 92 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 102. APPENDIX I continued Scope of Work Examine whether the functional pathway for Sumacan is present in human prostate cancer cells. Compare the expression of Sumacan in normal human prostate tissues and prostate cancers, and correlate expression levels with clinical outcome in prostate cancer. Identify mutations in Sumacan in patients with prostate cancer. Strategy Each person in the lab is already working on different aspects of Sumacan biology in brain tumors. In each case, the work will be applied to prostate cancer cell lines that we will obtain from Mike, a col- league in our department. We have identified two additional potential collaborators—Rajiv, a pathologist who studies human prostate tissues and cancers, and Kathy, a geneticist who studies human prostate cancer families. We will use funds from our current grant to obtain preliminary findings. We plan to use these findings to obtain another grant to the laboratory. SECTION 2: OBJECTIVE Statement Investigate the possible role of Sumacan in prostate cancer. Measures Measure #1. Our experiments will provide preliminary evidence to either support or deny a role for Sumacan in prostate cancer. Specifications We will receive several requests for information about the research. We will publish at least two research articles in the scientific literature. We will present the research results to at least two conferences in one year. SECTION 3: CONSTRAINTS Limitations The grant proposal is due June 1 next year. This means that the first research manuscript must be submitted for publication by approximately January 1, and accepted by mid-April. Our lab has limited funds to cover the generation of preliminary data, which means that productivity must be reviewed monthly. Needs Our lab needs to be able to grow prostate cancer cells. Our lab needs to be able to handle human prostate cancer specimens. SECTION 4: ASSUMPTIONS The current research team will be willing and able to perform prostate cancer studies in addition to their brain tumor studies. The collaborators we have identified will be willing and able to work with our group or will provide the name of another person who wants to collaborate.Based on a real-world example provided by Milton W. Datta, Medical College of Wisconsin. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 93
  • 103. APPENDIX II: Example of a Work Breakdown Structure ACTIVITY 1: DETERMINE WHETHER SUMACAN IS EXPRESSED IN THE PROSTATE 1. Determine where to obtain human prostate cells. 2. Determine how to grow human prostate cells. the type of medium and serum they require, and the optimal conditions for growth 3. Determine whether we can isolate RNA and protein from human prostate cells. try the same technique we use to isolate RNA from brain cells, or develop a different technique 4. Determine whether we can perform quantitative RT-PCR for Sumacan expression. primers and positive and negative controls 5. Determine whether we can perform a Western blot for Sumacan expression. test whether the antibody we use in the brain works in the prostate and determine what size protein band(s) is identified, and identify positive or negative controls for protein quality and Sumacan identification Note: Steps 1 to 3 must be done sequentially, but once step 3 is completed, steps 4 and 5 can be done at the same time. ACTIVITY 2: DETERMINE WHETHER SUMACAN IS EXPRESSED IN PROSTATE CANCER CELLS 1. Determine where to obtain human prostate cancer cells. 2. Determine how to grow human prostate cancer cells. the type of medium and serum they require, and the optimal conditions for growth 3. Determine whether we can isolate RNA and protein from human prostate cancer cells. try the same technique we use to isolate RNA from brain cells, or develop a different technique 4. Determine whether we can perform quantitative RT-PCR for Sumacan expression. primers and positive and negative controls 5. Determine whether we can perform a Western blot for Sumacan expression. test whether the antibody we use in the brain works in prostate cancer cells and determine what size protein band(s) is identified, and identify positive or negative controls for protein quality and Sumacan identification Note: Steps 1 to 3 must be done sequentially, but once step 3 is completed, steps 4 and 5 can be done at the same time. In addition, activities 1 and 2 can be done at the same time, although this may result in higher resource costs if both tasks fail.94 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 104. APPENDIX II continuedACTIVITY 3: DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS A DIFFERENCEIN SUMACAN EXPRESSION BETWEEN NORMAL AND CANCER CELLS1. Determine the difference in RNA expression.2. Determine the difference in protein expression.3. Determine the relationship between RNA and protein expression.Note: Activity 3 involves analysis of the data collected in activities 1 and 2, and thus cannot be performeduntil those two activities are completed.APPENDIX III: Example of an Activities PlanACTIVITY/PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE/START DATE/END DATE Identify sources of prostate cells/Teresa/August 1/August 5 Identify sources of prostate cancer cells/Robert/August 1/August 5 Grow prostate cells/Teresa/August 5/August 26 Grow prostate cancer cells/Robert/August 5/August 26 Isolate RNA and protein from prostate cells/Teresa/August 26/September 26 Isolate RNA and protein from prostate cancer cells/Robert/August 26/September 26 Perform RT-PCR from prostate cells/Teresa/September 26/October 26 Perform RT-PCR from prostate cancer cells/Teresa/September 26/October 26 Perform Western blots on prostate cells/Robert/September 26/October 26 Perform Western blots on prostate cancer cells/Robert/September 26/October 26 Compare the levels of Sumacan RNA in the prostate and prostate cancer cells/Teresa and Robert/ October 26/November 5 Compare the levels of Sumacan protein in the prostate and prostate cancer cells/Teresa and Robert/October 26/November 5 Compare the levels of Sumacan RNA and protein to each other/Teresa and Robert/October 26/ November 5Note: Each of these activities can be broken down further if more detail is needed. For example, ifthe activities are being performed by a new graduate student, you may want to explain the differentprotocols to use to perform RT-PCR from prostate cancer cells and what controls should be used, aswell as alternative protocols to use in case the first ones do not work. PROJECT MANAGEMENT 95
  • 105. APPENDIX IV: Example of a Gantt Chart PROJECT: ROLE FOR SUMACAN IN PROSTATE CANCER Activity August September October November Person Responsible Sumacan Expression in Prostate Cells Find Cells Teresa Grow Cells Teresa Isolate RNA and Teresa Protein RT-PCR and Western Teresa and Robert Blots Sumacan Expression Prostate Cancer Find Cells Robert Grow Cells Robert Isolate RNA and Robert Protein RT-PCR and Western Teresa and Robert Blots Compare Results Data Analysis Teresa and Robert APPENDIX V: Example of a Loading Chart This chart displays Teresa’s workload. She is responsible for the first three steps in determining Sumacan expression in prostate cells. Step 1 (looking for prostate cells) is done in week 1, step 2 (trying to grow the cells) in weeks 2-4, step 3 (isolating RNA and protein) in weeks 5-8, and step 4 (doing RT-PCR on normal and cancer cells) in weeks 9-13. In addition, during the time the project is being run, she will be teaching a microbiology lab course (5 hours/day with monthly exams). WEEKS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 RESEARCH 7 10 10 10 8 8 8 10 25 25 25 25 25 HOURS MICROBIOLOGY 25 25 25 35 25 25 25 35 25 25 25 35 25 LAB HOURS TOTAL TIME 32 35 35 45 32 32 32 45 50 50 50 65 5096 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 106. CHAPTER 7 GETTING FUNDED“DIVISER C H A C U N E D E S D I F F I C U LT É S Q U E J ’ E X A M I N E R A I E N A U TA N T D E PA R C E L L E S QU’IL SEPOURRAIT ET QU’IL SERAIT REQUIS POUR LES MIEUX LES RÉSOUDRE. ” RENÉ DESCARTES Once you have started your career as an indepen- UNDERSTANDING dent scientist, have put your laboratory in order, and perhaps have hired some people, an important THE REVIEW PROCESS next step if you would like to have an international career is to find international funding for your work. EXAMPLE OF PEER REVIEW: FUNDING A It is beyond the scope of this book to address U.S. NIH R01 RESEARCH PROJECT GRANT funding in all of the countries of the South, since Though the U.S. NIH is sometimes an international the funding situation is different everywhere and funder, it is (as are your own country’s government in some places can change quite quickly. Instead, agencies focused on health) an organization whose this chapter will concentrate on international fund- mission primarily focuses on the health of its ing sources and how best to present your work so country’s citizens. For this reason, its spending on that you may tap into these sources. This chapter many problems of interest in other parts of the also uses the U.S. NIH funding process as an world is relatively small. example of a two-level peer review system. Not all international funders use the same system—in fact, each major funding body has a system that is distinctly its own. But the example used here will There is no grantsmanship that will turn a bad give you a good idea of the how’s and why’s of peer idea into a good one, but there are many ways ” review, which we hope will give you insight into how to disguise a good one. to prepare the strongest grant application you can, no matter what funding body you are approaching. This chapter includes advice on how to turn your William Raub, former deputy director, U.S. NIH concept into a solid research plan, and discusses what to do if your application is not funded. The quote above: Descartes, in the second rule of his Method, says to break each difficulty down into smaller resolvable component parts. GETTING FUNDED 97
  • 107. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: WHAT GOES ON IN A PEER REVIEW MEETING Peer review committees: Are managed by a scientific review administrator (SRA), a professional NIH employee at the M.D. or Ph.D. level with a scientific background close to the study section’s area of expertise. Have 12-24 members recruited from active scientists, generally people who have (or have had) R01s themselves. Most members are academics. Some have long-term appointments to the study section and others are temporary members. Will review as many as 60-100 applications per meeting. Usually assign three reviewers to very closely review each application, though the whole panel should read all of the applications. Study section meetings: Are closed—the discussions are not made part of the public record and spectators are not allowed. Include a discussion of general business, provisional approval of the list of applications which are declared uncompetitive and thus not scored, and discussion of the remaining applications. Reviewers who have a conflict of interest with a given applicant are asked to leave the room when that applicant’s grant is discussed. Discussion of applications includes: The three reviewers most closely linked to each grant providing discussion of that grant’s strengths, weaknesses, and their preliminary scores. Other members discussing scientific and technical merit. All members stating their scores, which are recorded. Any recommendations for changes in the budgets of individual grants. After each meeting, the SRA documents the results in a summary statement, which is forwarded both to the appropriate institute or center that would support the grant (if budget is available) and to the prin- cipal investigator. These summary statements, which are often called “pink sheets” because they were once given back to the applicant as the pink layer from a multi-sheet carbon-paper form, are the key to understanding what was said about your grant during the review. Summary statements may vary somewhat depending on the SRA, but all contain: Overall résumé and summary of review discussion (for applications that were discussed and scored). Essentially unedited critiques by the assigned reviewers. Priority score and percentile ranking. Budget recommendations. Administrative notes (e.g., comments on human subjects or animal welfare).The major grant that funds most U.S. health R01 grant applications are usually investigator-scientists’ work is called an “R01.” There is no initiated—that is, the researcher proposes a topic tospecial reason these grants are called R01—it is study rather than the agency indicating what kindsnot an abbreviation for any longer term. The letter of topics it would like to see. Other approaches areR conveys that it is a Research Project Grant, but also common among large funders. Many fundersthere are other types of NIH research grants that (including NIH) use Requests for Proposals (RFPs),begin with other letters. Requests for Applications (RFAs), or Program 98 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 108. QUESTION q&a Where do research funds come from? ANSWER National governments, including both that of the country where you will work and those of other nations that have taken an interest in supporting work in your area of science or your geographical region. Non-governmental organizations—a very broad group of national and international organizations. Multinational organizations such as the United Nations and its agencies (for example, UNICEF), the World Health Organization, etc. Public-Private Partnerships such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, etc. Private foundations such as the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, etc. National and multinational corporations such as mining companies, oil companies, etc.Announcements (PAs) to alert researchers to institute that focuses on infectious diseases, or, ifgrant opportunities that will fund research around it is a Fogarty International Research Collaborationparticular topics. Award (FIRCA), it might be funded by the Fogarty International Center, which is also a section ofApplications to NIH are submitted to the agency NIH. The Fogarty Center’s work focuses on globaland then immediately sent to a division that health and international partnerships.specializes in managing the review of applications—the Center for Scientific Review (CSR). There At NIH, the level of review that focuses onthe grant is reviewed on two levels: one is a peer scientific and technical merit is carried out byreview level meant to evaluate the proposal’s one of many “study sections,” each of which isscientific and technical merit, the other is review organized around a general scientific area. Eachby staff members from a few of the agency’s study section has a specific scientific focus. Indi-many institutes and centers to determine where vidual reviewers who are members of the studythe grant might best fit into the agency’s interests. section review a grant application for scientificFor example, a grant that focuses on atherosclero- merit. Each rates it with a numerical score, andsis would face peer review by a panel of experts then the whole committee comes to agreementin heart disease and, after review by the institutes on the proposal’s final score, a three-digit number.and centers, would likely find its way to the In this system, 100 is the best possible score,institute that focuses on heart disease. Within the and 500 is the worst. After reviewing the proposaloverarching agency NIH, that is a section called as individuals, proposals that the committeethe National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. A members agree are not of high enough quality togrant you might write with an American collabora- be competitive are often not even discussed attor to fund research on Chagas disease (a parasitic the peer review meeting, and will not receive ainfection with considerable impact on the heart) numerical score.might make its way to that institute, or to the NIH GETTING FUNDED 99
  • 109. WHEN POOR SCORES ARE GIVEN Who might be interested in supporting Applications may receive poor priority scores for your work? any number of reasons, including: Disease control programs that require evidence-based information in order to Lack of original ideas. implement appropriate control measures Absence of an acceptable scientific rationale. in disease-burdened areas. Lack of experience in the essential methodology. Policymakers who require quality research results for policy formulation, policy guide- Questionable reasoning in experimental approach. lines and informed decisions in the control A diffuse, superficial, or unfocused research plan. of various diseases. Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing Lack of sufficient experimental detail. companies wanting to know the efficacy of Lack of knowledge of published relevant work. their products against target vectors and diseases. An unrealistically large amount of work for the given time frame or funding level. Construction companies may require assessment of the impact of their projects, Uncertainty about future directions. for example, the construction of an irrigation scheme in an arid area. Communities themselves are interested in PREPARING A STRONG research results so that they can understand GRANT APPLICATION their population’s health status and the prob- lems associated with it, as well as where they may need to improve it. GETTING STARTED Waterworks and sewerage institutions Successful grant applications begin with a good constantly need to monitor the quality of idea. See page 102 for the sequence of steps that water and sewage in order to keep harmful can guide you from your good idea through the organisms at minimal levels, thus averting submission of an application to the final decision epidemics of waterborne diseases. about funding. You can send the same application Research funders who will want to know if to multiple funding sources, but you must disclose their funds are being used in the manner in your multiple applications to each potential funder. which they are intended and the outcome of If two or more funders agree to support the same the research conducted using these funds. application, you must let them know that the work has already found support. This may cause some Investors also have an interest in some of funders to withdraw their support, but others will the research results produced, because they only ask you to propose some new work that will will guide them in what health care systems go beyond the original proposal. Although it may to adopt if they do decide to invest in an area. These health care systems should of be tempting to keep both, you do not want your course be in sync with the health policies of supporters to find out later to their surprise that ” that country. they have “bought” the same work as another funder. Once you have a good idea, you can get started in Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe two realms: your own institution and an appropri- ate funder. Information about potential funders is contained in the Resources section of this chapter.100 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 110. Seek input at your own institution. If no one Has this area been studied before? If so, whatat your institution has been successful at getting has been done?funded, look for others as close to you as possible What approaches will you use, and why?who have gotten international grants. In someplaces this may mean approaching people who are Why do you think it is feasible?across the country from you, or even in another What will you do if your initial approach doescountry in your region. Colleagues from farther not work as planned?away may be able to give you helpful insight onscientific issues and the overall logic of the work What resources and expertise are available toyou are proposing, but get as much input as you you from your institution?can from people who face the same kinds of fund-ing challenges that you will. Keep in mind that your reviewer may pick up your proposal after reading tens of others. You needKeith Yamamoto, a well-known cell biologist, to do a very good job of writing and of arguing forrecommends this to his younger colleagues: ask your ideas, because your reader may be distracted,three colleagues who have written fundable grants disinterested, grumpy, hungry, or in a bad moodto serve as a “grant committee” to help you get by the time he or she begins looking at youryour own work funded. If you have found a group grant. Start working on the writing well ahead ofof colleagues who are willing to help you this way, the deadline so that your grant will put your workset a time to talk with them, as a group if pos- forward well. Prepare your application with care—sible, about your research goals, aims, and ideas. use your computer’s spell check but also readPrepare yourself beforehand—you should be able your work over many times and give it to othersto brief them on your specific goals, grant ideas, to get “fresh eyes” looking for simple errors. Noand potential funders in approximately two hours— matter how strong the science, typographical andnot two days. grammatical errors leave a poor impression. Do notAfter you have sharpened your thinking by prepar- try to evade the page limit by using small type oring for the conversation and talking with your narrow margins. Do not feel you must write up togrant committee, read the grant solicitations that the full page limit; you get points for strength, notseem to fit you best and choose one on which to length.focus. List three to five specific aims, and explain In the specific aims, be specific about reagentsin writing for yourself why each aim is important. and quantify whenever possible. You may be tryingThen discuss this limited group of aims with the to leave your options open, but a reviewer maysame small group of experienced colleagues, and see a lack of detail as a lack of knowledge on yourthen refine your aims according to their comments. part. At the same time, be brief—try to keep yourAgain, this conversation or group of conversa- specific aims to two or three sentences each.tions should be short—on the order of twohours—because you will have focused on what is Use language and formatting to create signpostsimportant and will not be discussing other topics. for overworked reviewers, for example:Once you have finished, you are ready to write a The long-term objectives of this project are…grant. The specific aims are the hardest part and The general strategy of the proposed research is to…are the true heart of a grant, and at this point, youhave them well in hand. The specific aims of the present study are to…In general, a good grant application will answer for Four goals are envisioned:…a reader: In these experiments, molecular genetic, biochem- What do you want to do? ical, and structural approaches will be used to… Why is it important? Do not put anything that is critical for reviewers Why do you think you can do it? to read, such as key graphics, in an appendix, because reviewers are not required to read GETTING FUNDED 101
  • 111. CALL YOUR PROGRAM OFFICER Program officers are generally PhD or MD staff members of funding organizations. Their job involves connecting researchers with grants. It is always appropriate to call or write to the program officer who manages a funder’s grants in your area of research interest. A good program officer will tell you more about a grant program you are considering applying to, can recommend other funding opportunities that may also fit you or may fit you better, and can give you some sense of whether your planned application has a good possibility of being supported by the agency. Before you call, be sure to have an abstract of your research project ready (see box “Tips on Writing an Abstract”). The program officer will probably ask for a copy. If not, you can offer to send one. The program officer will not evaluate the quality of the research idea or the science. That job is left to your institutional colleagues and the study section. But the program officer can be your best advocate and advisor at a funding agency throughout the application process and beyond. This book was conceived and helped along by program officers from different agencies, all of whom wanted to provide you with a resource that will help you become an even more successful researcher.appendixes. Do include clear tables, figures, and whether you have done everything the applicationdiagrams (along with legends). Put them in the requires and whether your work matches well withbody of the text, not in pages following it as you any criteria for selection listed.might when submitting a paper. If you will be using human subjects, collectingThe particular format of a given grant may vary, human samples, or using animals, make sure tobut just like scientific papers, scientific grants have give yourself time to discuss the project with thepredictable structures. Draft an abstract, research people who will be responsible for approving thedesign section, and methods section. Then draft project’s ethics and determining that your use ofthe section on your current relevant work, and animals is in accordance with internationalthe sections on the background and significance standards.of what you propose to do. Conduct a thorough If new data become available after you haveliterature search and cite all relevant literature submitted the application, contact the appropriate(omissions here are often a source of criticism). program officer to see whether you will be allowedBe sure to discuss your work in the context of to submit this additional information, and if so, howthese published results. Conclude each section to do the research plan with a few sentences statingwhat you will learn and why that information is The Application: From Concept to Submissionimportant—for example, “These experiments are In the beginning: have a good idea.important because nothing is known about X, and Find a home for your research; investigate fundingthey will enable us to distinguish between two agencies that may support the kind of work youcontroversial models that are widely discussed in propose.the field.” Seek input at your own institution.Reviewers will look for your record of gettingrelated work done, so if you do not yet have Write an abstract describing your proposed work inpublished work showing your success with the clear language suitable for an educated layperson.required methods, do some preliminary work and Contact program officers at the agencies youpresent a short summary of the results in your would like to approach for support.grant application. Re-read the funder’s instructionsvery carefully, paying particularly close attention to If the conversation is encouraging, send an abstract to the program officer. 102 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 112. If the conversation is discouraging, and if it is a large agency, contact another program officer and have the same kind of conversation with a Components of a Generic different person. If you are discouraged a second Grant Application time, your idea is likely not a good fit for the agency. Abstract Prepare your application; refer frequently to any instructions on what will determine which grants Research Plan are funded. Specific Aims Background (like a review article) Draft a one-page cover letter in which you express Significance or Relevance why you believe your application fits the agency Preliminary Results or the particular solicitation to which you are Research Design and Methods responding. Suggest potential reviewers for your work, and mention your conversation with a Resources and Facilities supportive program officer. Including description of your lab and the equipment in it, as well as shared equipment and equipment you haveThe Application: From Submission through access to at nearby facilitiesFunding Decision Submit your application on time; follow instructions Budget carefully. Check by email to make sure the application was received. After peer review, carefully read any feedback Reviewers Focus on the Four Cs given by the review committee. At some agencies, this feedback may come before funding decisions Clarity. Cross-reference current literature are made. in laying out your premises. If revision and resubmission are recommended, Content. Organize your ideas around consult colleagues at your institution and program associated aims linked to your central officer for guidance, address all critical comments hypothesis. (The mission statement of thoroughly, and resubmit your application. Learn each funding institute or review commit- from the summary statement and the program tee sets forth its areas of emphasis.) officer: negative comments will contain informa- Coherence of concepts. Present a coherent tion that could help you write a stronger proposal set of ideas predicated on previous work. in the future. Cutting edge. Be ready to take legitimate If appropriate, consult the program officer about risks, preferably based on preliminary data, challenging a review you think is flawed, especially to move the science forward. if the reviewers’ comments seem to miss the point of your proposal. If the application is funded, first, celebrate. Find out when and how the grant will be paid, and then wait expectantly—soon, you can begin the Tips on Writing an Abstract proposed work! If the application is not funded, consult your The abstract should convey the big picture program officer for guidance and either revise and —the general hypothesis and aims, the resubmit the application, or apply what you have methodological approach, and the signifi- learned to write a new application. cance of the research. Try to avoid technical jargon, and write the abstract in language an educated layperson can understand. GETTING FUNDED 103
  • 113. DIRECT COSTS VS. INDIRECT COSTS Direct costs comprise those expenses that are directly related to conducting a research project. They include salaries, employee benefits, equipment and scientific instruments, consumable supplies such as printer paper and pipettes, reagents, laboratory computers, and postage. Indirect costs (informally termed “overhead”) comprise the expenses that are paid to your institution by the funding organization to support your research but cannot easily be charged directly to a specific grant. These include administration, utilities, computer infrastructure, building maintenance, security, and custodial services. These items can add significantly to the cost of doing research. Generally, an institution’s administrators, on behalf of the investigator, will negotiate indirect costs with funding organizations that allow these costs. The organization then provides funds for indirect costs to the institution, along with funds to cover direct costs charged to the research grants. Some organizations, especially foundations, do not allow indirect costs, but often will allow many of the items listed above to be included as direct costs of the grant.Criteria for Rating. Here are some questions that THINKING ABOUT A GRANT’S BUDGETreviewers will ask about your proposal: The budget is a categorical description of the Significance: Does it address an important proposed costs. Generally, it explains staffing and problem? Will it advance scientific knowledge? Will supply/service consumption patterns, the methods it affect concepts or methods in this field? used to estimate/calculate these items, and other Approach: Are the experimental design and details such as lists of items that make up the total methods appropriate to the aims? Does it costs for a category. The budget should address acknowledge problem areas and consider each of the major cost categories, such as: alternative tactics (in other words, is there a Personnel thoughtful backup plan)? Number of positions and level of expertise for Innovation: Does it employ novel concepts, each position approaches, or methods? Does it challenge exist- ing paradigms or develop new methodologies? Percent effort for each position Investigator: Is the investigator appropriately What each member of the proposed research trained to carry out the proposed work? Is the team will be doing work appropriate to the experience of the principal Equipment investigator and collaborators? Why you need this piece of equipment Environment: Does the institutional environment contribute to the probability of success? Is there What equipment you used to get preliminary data evidence of institutional support? Why the above equipment is not sufficient to support R01-level effort 104 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 114. NOT CHOSEN? Occasionally, mistakes are made during the review process. If you believe that the reviewers criticized you for information they overlooked in your application, or think the review was flawed for other reasons, consult the program officer about the possibility of appealing the study section’s decision. Although this action is sometimes appropriate, it is usually better to address review comments and resubmit your application. Follow the program officer’s guidance on this matter. If the reviewers thought your starting hypothesis was seriously flawed, do not waste your time revising and resubmitting the application. Instead, learn as much as you can from the summary statement and discussion with the program officer and your colleagues, reconsider your project and approach, and write a stronger application the next time. If the program officer thinks it is worthwhile for you to revise the application, keep these points in mind: Reviewers of amended applications get to see the summary statement from the previous reviews. Always treat review comments respectfully. Respond to all suggestions and comments, even if you do not agree with them. Be explicit about changes. Mark each section of the revised application where you have addressed reviewer critiques. Provide any additional data that are now available, and update your publication list if necessary. Resubmit the revised application by the due date. Your revised application now begins its journey through the review process all over again, along with the next batch of new submissions from other applicants.Cost sharing for new equipment is advisable The most important challenge for a scientistSupplies in my country is that funding for research isCategorize limited. Although new private foundations and business companies have started toExplain large expenses offer grants for scientific research, there areTravel fewer sources of funding than in developed countries. Additionally, salaries at universitiesDescribe proposed meetings, travelers, and are relatively low. The most important wayestimated cost/trip of facing this challenge is, first, to learn how to apply for grants as early in one’s career asJustify any foreign travel possible. It does not matter if the applicationsOther are not successful, but starting to learn the ” process is very valuable.Detailed description of animal per diem costsCategorize other expenses Gilbert Brenes Comacho, Costa Rica GETTING FUNDED 105
  • 115. RESOURCESAllen, Ernest M. “Why are research grant applicationsdisapproved?” Science 132:1532-1534, 1960.OnlineExample of a Funded RO1:Annotated RO1 Research Plan and Summary Statement(NIAID): (, maintained by theAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science,is a well-maintained database of funding opportunitiesworldwide.Other Sources of Funding Information:FedBizOpps, an evolving database of all U.S. federalgovernment granting programs of more than $25,000: Sources Of International Funding:The Fogarty International Center produces and updates itsDirectory of Grants and Fellowships in the Global HealthSciences, which lists international funding opportunitiesfrom all over the world. It can be found at 106 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 116. CHAPTER 8 TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN“A TEACHER AFFECTS ETERNITY; HE CAN NEVER TELL WHERE HIS INFLUENCE STOPS. ” HENRY ADAMS If you are associated with a university, college, or and other professionals. It also offers advice for medical school, teaching may be an important part revising and designing courses, helping graduate of your work. You might have mixed feelings about students and other trainees who may someday taking your place in front of a class. You may find find themselves in charge of a classroom learn yourself staring out at a sea of faces and thinking, how to teach, creating a “teaching portfolio” “What am I doing here? I am a scientist, not a —a coherent presentation of your experience teacher.” If you have done little or no teaching with teaching and your ideas about your work in before, but now find yourself cast in the role of the classroom—and balancing your teaching and “The Professor,” you have no choice but to learn research responsibilities. as you go. This chapter focuses on some strategies for becoming a more effective teacher by using a WHY TEACH WELL? variety of methods, including “active learning.” Science is about learning—both learning what is By experimenting with different teaching methods, already known and learning from the questions continually assessing their effectiveness, and your experiments ask of the natural world. Gaining modifying them based on feedback from students the varied skills required to become a good teacher and other teachers, you can become a “scientific will benefit you professionally by enhancing your teacher” who is as rigorous at teaching as you communication skills, adding a whole new range are at research. This chapter focuses on teaching of activities to your resume, and making you undergraduates at large research universities and rethink the most foundational ideas that underlie students at medical schools, but the methods your field. When you prepare your lectures and described can easily be adapted to other settings. when students ask you naïve questions, you will look in new ways at your assumptions about how The chapter suggests ways to improve your things work. Thus, teaching can bring new energy current teaching style by assessing your strengths to your lab investigations. You will also contribute and weaknesses and learning from colleagues to the greater good of society by educating TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 107
  • 117. the next generation of students (those who careers beyond science, you may influence futurebecome scientists as well as those who go into policymakers, business leaders, corporate decision-other fields), and you should take great personal makers and others. Thus you will increase sciencesatisfaction from giving students the knowledge, literacy and the general perception of science amonginsights, and enthusiasm they need to succeed as those who affect how things move forward.well-educated members of society. These reasons Science and other Technical Fields Need toare explored in greater depth below. Retain Excellent Students. By adopting a teaching style that engages students, helps them become excited about the discovery process, and creates For me, the best thing of being a scientist in their imaginations the possibility of a rewarding is that one is capable of understanding infor- life in science, you will excite many more students mation that might seem complex to others, about pursuing scientific careers. and then one is also capable of translating Intellectual Growth. Ongoing interactions with new this information to others to spread the students will prompt you to rethink “the basics” in ” knowledge. ways that give you a deeper understanding of your work. Their questions may push you to acquire new Gilbert Brenes Comacho, Costa Rica skills and improve on existing ones, so that you yourself can extend your experimental reach. Increased Job Satisfaction. Your scientificREASONS TO TEACH experiments and other aspects of laboratory work are not always going to go according to plan, and atLove of Learning. Teaching completes the times you may become frustrated with the pace oflearning cycle. It is a logical extension of your own research in your lab. Teaching can provide much-studentship. needed balance that re-energizes you and can giveA Strong Teaching Record Can Help Your you a sense of accomplishment. When you teach,Research Career. If you are at a university that you build the future, give individual students avalues teaching, the fact that you are knowledge- chance for better lives, and increase the commu-able about teaching will help you advance in your nity’s knowledge. It is often a much more sociableenvironment. Taking on your fair share of the and direct experience than your progress throughinstitution’s teaching load will help establish your laboratory science.reputation as a valuable peer and colleague.Get to Know Potential Students for Your Lab.Teaching will likely give you access to students who It is important to tell the history of certainmay want to join your lab. Teaching an important experiments and talk about the personalclass extremely well will help spread your reputa- knowledge one has of some of the “actors”tion among the best and most serious students. who made important contributions to, for instance, molecular biology. Make the scienceIncrease Science Literacy. Increasingly, scientists we teach alive. Foster enthusiasm. I usuallyare called upon to communicate effectively with say that I cannot teach any subject that doesthe public about complex and practical issues not interest or fascinate me. When I am fasci-ranging from health policy to the philosophical nated by the subject I am teaching, I manage ”and real-world quandaries of crop engineering, to get fascination in the audience.embryonic stem cell research, or preservation ofscarce resources. Delivering class-room instruc-tion will improve your communication skills. Also, Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentinaby teaching students who will choose many 108 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 118. Giving Back. Teaching allows you to give some- instead give them more time to pose questionsthing important back to your country, as well—you and reflect upon solutions. If you are a lesstransmit the knowledge that you have attained to gregarious person, you might find teaching in anew generations of students who may, in turn, have large lecture to be so intimidating that you retreata role in moving science and the country forward. behind your lecture notes and have difficulty interacting with students. If you are given a choice of how to organize your course, you can build yourBECOMING AN confidence by starting with a topic you know wellEFFECTIVE TEACHER and feel passionate about.Teaching the lecture component of a basic science Whether you are bold, shy, or somewhere incurriculum for medical school students or a course between, after you have established some rapportfor undergraduates can be daunting. You want to with students, stimulating discussion around thebe well-prepared for this new responsibility. How subject matter might become easier for you become a capable and effective teacherwhose students really learn the material you are OBSERVE AND BE OBSERVEDpresenting? There are several steps you shouldtake before you even set foot in the classroom. Just as you learn to improve your scientific work based on the critiques that editors give to your submitted manuscripts or comments thatASSESS YOUR STRENGTHS reviewers make about your grant applications, youAND WEAKNESSES can also learn about teaching from peers, senior colleagues, and others at your institution as wellResearch has shown that the best teachers are as from feedback provided by your students.not only knowledgeable about their subject matter,but also show a concern for students and know Ask a Peer for Feedback. You might want tohow to stimulate interest, encourage discussion, consider a reciprocal arrangement with anotherexplain topics clearly, and show enthusiasm. Think junior professor in which you visit each other’sback to any previous teaching experiences you classes, staying in the back and just watching themay have had. Even if they are only presenting at lesson and how students respond to it. When youlab meetings, nervously giving talks in your own are being observed, ask your colleague to providestudent days, or sharing a new skill with a friend, a frank assessment of your teaching skills. He orthey may give you some insights into what teach- she can give you information and advice informallying skills you could improve. or by completing a written checklist that contains specific categories, such as structure and goalsThe type of course you are asked to teach may of the class, teaching behaviors, rapport withnot mesh with your scientific interests, but you students, and subject matter and instruction.should take the time to assess your strengths andweaknesses and take those into account when Observe a Senior Colleague. Seek out seniorplanning your classes. Since good teaching is part colleagues who are reputed to be good teachers,art, part technique, and part personality, you will and ask them if you can attend their classes toneed to find techniques that will both fit your own see what they do that is effective. If you wouldpersonality and will address your students’ varied like a faculty member to observe your teaching,learning styles. and possibly serve as a guide for you as you learn this skill, choose someone who seemsFor example, if you are an outgoing person who enthusiastic and knowledgeable about teachingtakes great joy in sharing what you know, convey- and who has a reputation among students as aing your enthusiasm for science to students should good teacher (not just as a giver of high marks).be easy for you. But your enthusiasm may be Experienced colleagues can offer suggestionsoverwhelming. You might need to avoid presenting for dealing with particular topics and can give youstudents with a tidal wave of complex ideas, and additional ways to clarify and enliven the material. TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 109
  • 119. Seek Feedback through a Formal Peer Review THE PRINCIPLESProject. As you become a more experiencedteacher, you might want to participate in more OF ACTIVE LEARNINGformal peer review of teaching projects, which Whether you teach at a large research university,aims to engage faculty in capturing the intellectual a medical school, or a smaller school, you can aimwork of teaching by helping instructors document, to create a classroom that reflects the process ofassess, and reflect upon ways to improve student science and captures the rigor, iterative nature,learning and performance. and spirit of discovery of science at its best. EvenAsk your Students for Feedback. Student evalu- in courses where you expect to stand at the frontations of teaching effectiveness can offer valuable of the room and lecture, there are ways to getclues as to what you are—and are not—doing students thinking and asking questions. (See thewell. However, many standard assessments, which box “Active Learning in Small and Large Settings”)contain quantitative questions designed to beanalyzed by computer (e.g., “Overall, how would WHAT IS ACTIVE LEARNING?you rate the quality of the instructor’s teaching?”),may not provide enough specific information. Active learning uses a variety of problem-solvingYou might want to create an informal survey, techniques to help students become activewith plenty of room for comments. The students’ participants in the learning process, giving themcritiques can help you make any necessary course the chance to clarify, question, apply their knowl-corrections. Bear in mind, though, that student edge and consolidate what they have learned.ratings for your first course might be low. They The concept was originated by John Dewey, ashould quickly improve as you gain experience philosopher of education who contended thatand confidence as a teacher. Some students may learning must be built upon the experience of theuse an anonymous evaluation as an opportunity learner, who actively integrates new knowledgeto make cruel remarks, but if you emphasize that into an existing conceptual framework. A growingthis is a practical evaluation meant to improve body of research supports that supplementing (ortheir classroom experience, there should be useful replacing) lectures with active-learning techniquesfeedback on what you are doing wrong, from and engaging students in discovery and scientificspeaking too softly to asking unclear examination process can improve their abilities to understandquestions, as well as some encouraging acclaim concepts, think critically, and retain the knowledgefor the things you are doing right. they have gained in the course. ACTIVE LEARNING IN SMALL AND LARGE SETTINGS Active learning presents opportunities and challenges for the teacher. If you have small classes and frequent, relatively informal contact with the students both in and out of class, that will make some approaches easier to employ. At a larger or more formal institution, some active learning approaches may be very difficult to apply, but related ideas, such as students forming small study groups or frequent quizzes to check student understanding, may be useful. Upper-level courses and other small-sized classes are excellent opportunities for departures from straight lectures. In the instances where you teach labs in connection with your science courses, you can introduce inquiry-based experiments in your lectures from the start. Because undergraduates, graduate students, and technicians will contribute substantially to your research agenda, the time you spend training them and helping them organize their projects will present many opportunities for experimenting with active learning approaches in the lab. 110 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 120. In the classroom, the principal tools of active If you use active learning in your classroom, keeplearning are: the following pointers in mind: Cooperative learning, in which students work in Do Not Try to Cover Too Many Topics at Once. groups, helping each other understand the material To make active learning work well, especially they are grappling with. within the large lecture format, pare down each lecture to the core concepts you want or are Inquiry-based learning, in which students ask and required to introduce, and organize the concepts answer questions and engage in the process of in a meaningful sequence. science, by doing laboratory exercises, for example. Provide an Appealing Context for the Assessment, in which the teacher very regularly assesses what students are learning and what Concepts you Highlight. While you might find parts have gone “over their heads.” The teacher a lecture on metabolic pathways exciting, your uses the feedback to make revisions as the course students might learn even more if you present an progresses so that students spend adequate time absorbing case problem to which an understand- on ideas that are critical for their understanding of ing of the metabolic pathway will hold a key. the material. Start Gradually and Then Add More. If you are comfortable with an informal style and it is accept-IMPLEMENTING ACTIVE LEARNING IN able at your institution, you might try introducing active learning components slowly, experimentingTHE CLASSROOM with different ways of teaching the material toMost scientists will have experienced learning as engage students. For example, you could start byundergraduates or even graduate students via the stopping your lecture for a few moments to ask“sage on the stage” approach of lecture classes. students questions (which you can formulate inDelivering a lecture may be the teaching style advance) about the content you are teaching:that will be most natural for you. Some active Description: What do you see? What happened?learning approaches integrate well into lecturesand can make the material more engaging for your Common purpose: What is the purpose or functionstudents. You might lecture for 10-15 minutes of…?and then carry out an activity. For example, ask Procedures: How was this done? What will havestudents to work in small groups on a problem or to be done?equation, and then resume the lecture by solvingthe problem at the board in the front of the room. Possibilities: What else could…? How couldYou might present the results of a scientific study we…?and ask students to make a prediction, based Prediction: What will happen next?on their understanding of the material, of whatthe next step would be. Asking the students to Justification: How can you tell? What evidence ledwrite on a note card the most important concept you to…?they learned in the day’s lecture and hand it in Rationale: Why? What is the reason?as they leave can let you quickly gauge whetherthe class is struggling with the material. Similarly, Generalization: What is the same about…and…?asking students to jot down questions, and then What could you generalize from these events?answering them at the beginning of the next class Definition: What does…mean?session, can help ensure that most students arekeeping up with the material. TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 111
  • 121. Encouraging Student Questions If home internet use is common for your students, Do not ask, “Any questions so far?” Rather, consider using web-based resources such as a answer a question with a question to encourage discussion board to encourage students to ask and students to define concepts in their own words. answer each other’s questions. For example, if a student asks, “What is poly- merase chain reaction (PCR)?” answer the ques- Use Real-World Examples tion. but then ask a related question that will test Use current newspaper and magazine articles to the student’s ability to apply the knowledge that show the relevance of the topics students are you just gave them. “Can anyone think of why a studying. For example, if you are teaching about researcher would want to use PCR?” DNA sequencing, bring in articles about genomics and post-genomics or ask students to bring in Encourage students to question concepts, ideas, relevant articles they may have seen. and theories by using examples from your own research or research important in your scientific Involve the class in assessing the biological im- field to explain how the scientific process is carried plications of a real or planned community project, out. such as a plan to control communicable diseases or an animal population. Assign student groups to One of the problems with asking questions in investigate various aspects of the project, collect class is that it can become a private conversation data, and present evidence-based recommenda- with just a few students who volunteer answers. tions to the class. Instead, you might try asking students to write the answers individually, or to work on the answers in Use Technology to Enhance Teaching. If you a group. have access to a computer or to the Internet during your class, there are ways to use technology At the end of a class, ask students to write down to make classes more engaging. two good questions or test problems related to the material you presented, and start your next lecture Provide some historical background to key with a reference to those questions. You can also discoveries in biology by showing films or news ask a question that can be answered by those who clips of early, groundbreaking experiments. read the material for the next class, and then ask any student to present his or her answer at the beginning of the next session. QUESTION q&a How do I get students to respond to my questions and not be met with silence? ANSWER Make it clear that you expect participation, but develop the patience to deal with at least 10-15 seconds of silence when you ask a question. Even if you feel frustrated when no one speaks up, refrain from answering the question yourself, or you will set the wrong tone for the rest of the course. If students are very reticent to ask and answer questions, you might try framing an opening question in the form of “Choose one of these answers.” Call for a vote by show of hands, then ask one of the students who knew the answer to explain to the others why that answer was correct. 112 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 122. Integrate new media technology such as anima- to test the hypothesis, collect and analyze the tions or virtual labs to make the subject more vivid. data, and determine if their hypothesis was Slides, photos, and film clips will also get your confirmed. The students then present and explain students’ attention and may open familiar material their findings to the class as a whole. This can to surprising new questions. be useful even when facilities and resources for doing experiments are not available. Students can Use interactive demonstrations and simulations to illustrate concepts. Or show maps, photographs, be given mock data from which they can do the or diagrams and ask students to make their own relevant analysis and think through results, even observations and interpretations. if it is impossible to give them a chance to collect the data themselves. If you decide to use PowerPoint slides in your class, learn to make your presentations visually dynamic As students start to understand and apply the and engaging to students. Reading a lecture aloud scientific method, they can begin to experience from a series of slides is painfully dull for both the the rewarding pleasure of discovery. From inquiry- teacher and the students. based labs, students can also develop better communication and critical thinking skills and learnSet the Stage for Active Learning to work together as part of a problem-solving team. Set the pattern for active participation from the very first day. Remind students of the value of active learning, ask questions that call for genuine discus- CASE-BASED LEARNING sion, and get students talking several times during Case-based learning allows students to learn sci- the first session or in separate discussions later. ence in a very practical way, by exploring the kinds of issues they might actually confront as scientists Learn the names of as many of your students as or as physicians or engineers in practice. Students you can. At the first class, tell students to choose their seats for the semester and then make a seat- meet in small groups with a faculty member or a ing chart, which you can study while students are more advanced student, who acts as a facilitator. working on in-class exercises. They are then assigned roles, such as discussion leader, reader, scribe, or timekeeper. For each case, which they will have read and thought aboutACTIVE LEARNING IN THE LAB ahead of time, they receive a list of objectives; a narrative description of an issue, phenomenon, orThe teaching laboratory associated with a course scientific advance; and a list of questions to addressis a perfect place for students to actually practice and problems posed by the narrative. The exercisesscience by designing experiments, gathering and are designed to integrate previously learned class-analyzing data, and presenting their findings. room material, so students are expected to referIf you want your students to experience the thrill to material they have studied before attemptingof science, consider taking a different approach by to answer the questions. In addition, students areeither designing or adapting existing inquiry-based encouraged to pose hypotheses, present any newexperiments. When they are properly designed information they may have, reach conclusions asas discovery-based learning activities, labs can a group, and evaluate the exercise. The wholeprovide rich learning experiences for students and process can be done in an hour.can help them develop a variety of professional In this kind of learning, your role is likely to beand technical skills. that of a facilitator. Your goal should be to assistMost inquiry-based labs begin with a question— the student groups to function smoothly so thateither one generated by the teacher or by the students can learn from one another. You shouldstudents—that provides students with a specific not take over and begin lecturing the smallissue or topic to explore. Students research the groups, but you should correct any misinformationtopic, offer a hypothesis, design an experiment that might arise during student discussions. TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 113
  • 123. Here are some ways you can help them learn the type of exam, you should use a variety ofwithout delivering the material yourself: questions to evaluate what the students have learned. Encourage the group to recognize and formulate problems by asking students to brainstorm and True/False Questions. These questions lend make a list of possible causes of the problem themselves to written exams. They present a being discussed. statement and ask the student to decide whether the statement is true or false. While the tests Give group members opportunities to demonstrate are among the easiest to write and score, they their outside reading by asking them to describe new are limited in the kinds of student mastery they information they might consider from other sources. assess and have a relatively high probability of Ensure that all group members have a chance students guessing the right answer. “True or to contribute by preventing the “talkers” from make true” questions, which ask the student to answering too quickly, while encouraging quieter recognize and correct false statements, can also students to participate. be useful. Encourage the groups to critically evaluate ideas Short Answer Questions. These are “constructed by asking probing questions and suggesting other response” or open-ended questions that ask avenues to explore. students to create a short answer (one sentence Provide timely, constructive feedback to help the or several sentences). In a written exam, students groups analyze what went well and what went fill in a blank or complete a sentence. Although astray in their discussions, and to make sure that the questions are relatively easy to write, they at the end the groups have not come to illogical or are harder to score because students are free to incorrect conclusions. answer the question in any way they choose. Model respectful and professional behavior by Multiple Choice Questions. These questions are showing respect and support to all students while used primarily in written exams. These present a making the rules of small-group discussion very clear. question and ask students to choose from a list of answers. Questions can be simple statements(Adapted from Guide to Small Group CBL Exercises, BMS6204: MedicalBiochemistry and Genetics, Florida State University College of Medicine.) or complex cases or scenarios that require careful consideration on the part of students. The ques- tions can be more challenging to answer (if theyDEVELOPING require both one correct answer and several false answers that distract the student by being nearlyEXAMINATION QUESTIONS true or by playing on a common misunderstandingRemember that writing exam questions takes of the concept), but are easy to score.time; do not try to “throw it together” at the last Essay Questions. These questions can beminute. Before you start, make sure you ask if used both in written and oral exams. They allowyour institution has any established formats to students to focus on broad issues, generalwhich your exam questions must conform. If you concepts, and interrelationships, rather than onhave students or other trainees helping you teach specific facts or details. The advantage is that thethe class, involve them in writing the exam or tests allow you to see the quality and depth ofin reviewing a draft of it to make sure that your each student’s thinking. However, they can beinstructions are clear and that the test can be difficult and very time-consuming to score,completed in the time allowed. because the answers vary in length and variety,Your school will have its own customs and require- and you might tend to give students a betterments for testing students’ knowledge. In some grade if they have strong writing skills.places oral exams are common; in others writtenones are used nearly exclusively. Regardless of 114 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 124. COURSE DESIGN If the content of the course seems satisfactory overall, you can focus more on your presentation.You may be asked to design a new course from But if you think it is necessary to introduce ascratch, or you may want to redesign an existing substantial amount of new content or make majorcourse to better suit your teaching style and structural changes, then it may be useful to startknowledge or advances in your field. Course from the beginning and design a completely newdesign is a complex and time-consuming under- course.taking, so before starting down this path, giveconsiderable thought to how you will find the timeto build the new course, how many times (if any) DESIGNING A NEW COURSEyou will be able to substantially re-teach the same Creating a new course is more difficult andcourse, and whether your new course—especially time-consuming than revising an existing one.if it is a significant departure from a well-loved Before starting, ask yourself why you want topredecessor’s course—will generate potentially design a new course. Has your department ordamaging turbulence for you from your teaching school requested that you fill a gap in the existingand research colleagues. curriculum? Will you earn good will and be viewed Clarify your department’s expectations for this as a team player if you take it on? Do you have course. If you are teaching a course for only one a special research interest that is not currently year and must hand it back to your colleague when represented in the curriculum? he returns from a sabbatical, you might want to You will face three critical decisions—what to invest minimal time and effort. If you can get a teach, how to teach it, and how to ensure that commitment to teach the course for several years, students are learning what is being taught. Ideally, revising it will make more sense. you should begin planning your course several Review and evaluate the course syllabus, lecture months ahead of the term to give yourself time notes, textbooks and other assigned readings, to order textbooks and request other resources assessment questions, and other materials the and to prepare your course handouts. But even faculty member who previously taught the course if you are asked to develop a new course at the will make available to you. last minute, you can still use many of the planning guidelines described below. Review students’ final exams to learn where the course was strong or weak in teaching key Decide what to Teach. Determine how the concepts. If they are available, skim a few years’ course relates to other courses in the department’s worth of students’ course evaluations. curriculum by asking these questions: If possible, ask the faculty member who has been Will the course be required before students can teaching the course to describe his or her impres- register for higher-level courses? If so, talk to the sions of what worked and what did not, or observe instructors of the advanced courses to see what this person teaching a class and jot down your kinds of knowledge and skills they expect from thoughts about what you would keep or change. students who will have taken your course, and make sure you are covering that material well.Determine what Changes to Make. If you dodecide to make changes to the course, figure out Is it an advanced course? If so, talk to the instruc- tors who are teaching the basic courses thatwhat and how much you want to change. Are your students will have taken before yours so that youpredecessor’s lecture notes written in a style that can better understand what skills and knowledgeis similar to your own way of presenting material? students will have when entering your course.If not, spend some time editing the lectures tomake them your own. Is course content basicallygood, but is it presented primarily in lecture formwith few activities that press the students to think? TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 115
  • 125. Are there curriculum changes underway that might Do you want to, or are you required to include affect your course? If, for example, your school other faculty presenters? is considering new approaches—such as doing Will any class sessions be filled by field trips, away with introductory biology and chemistry and movies, or other non-speaker events? replacing them with a multidisciplinary life sciences course—you will want to keep that long-term Select resources. Choose textbooks and journal plan in mind. Knowing how your course fits into articles. Use letterhead to contact publishers for the entire structure of the students’ education is review copies (some publishers will send you a important, and will call for discussions with other free sample of their textbook on request if you are faculty and perhaps a collaborative or interdisciplin- teaching at an established institution). If you will ary approach. be able to use a computer in your presentations to the class, investigate the use of technologyEstablish content goals. Identify three to five enhancements such as animations, videos, simula-general goals (e.g., “understanding the concept tions, or virtual labs. Make sure the textbooksbasics of metabolism”) for the course that will match your idea of the course’s goals and objec-explain what you want your students to know and tives, or be prepared to tell students how to makebe able to do when the course is over. If you include the best use of the reading resources. Think aboutnon-content goals (such as “work conducted guest speakers or faculty members who might becollaboratively with other students”), keep in mind appropriate and willing to teach several classes.that they are harder to assess. Determine what other resources you need, suchIdentify major course themes. These principles as students or trainees to help you teach studentor fundamental postulates lend continuity to and labs or grade homework and examinations, teach-provide perspective on the entire course. For ing laboratory space, supplies, library resources,example, a year-long course in introductory biology and student textbooks if those are provided by themight involve three broad themes: information institution. Find out what you must to ensure thatand evolution in living systems, development and all of the needed items, people, and resources arehomeostasis, and energy and resources. in place.Identify core concepts within your major themes. If you plan to have a Web site for your course,Try to provide a balance of concrete information familiarize yourself with your institution’s proceduresand abstract concepts, and balance material that for placing material online.emphasizes practical problem-solving with mate- Based on the goals of the course, determine howrial that emphasizes fundamental understanding. you will assess student learning for each goal.Define the objectives of individual units or lessons. You can use active assessments, as well as moreFor example, one objective might be that students traditional quizzes, in-class or at-home examinations,will be able to propose tests of evolutionary papers, problem sets, in-class presentations, andhypotheses or critique arguments pertaining to projects.evolutionary evidence. Such definitions will help Divide the course into manageable pieces, perhapsstructure the content of each lesson punctuated by examinations if having severalDetermine How to Teach It. Determine the examinations per course is customary at yourgeneral structure of your course. Ask yourself institution. Divide the larger units into individualthese kinds of questions: class sessions with objectives, methods, and evaluations for each. Choose activities for each What combination of lecture and homework class and create a table or grid for each class assignments, labs, seminars, and journal club do to plan those elements. Pay attention to major you want to use? holidays: if most students will go home for a few What will be the balance of faculty lecture and days, think about whether your planned schedule other teaching methods, including student will lead to poor performance by students who may presentations, group projects, or laboratory work, be rushing to go home or may return unprepared. in the course? 116 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 126. Check your college or university’s calendar. Look TEACHING OTHERS TO TEACHfor exam dates, holidays, and other events thatmight affect class schedules. Try to avoid having If you are teaching a large course with assistantssessions that cover related material span major who will handle laboratory instruction or grading,holidays. do not expect them to be comfortable using teaching techniques they have never experiencedLook at existing syllabi (course agendas) to get an as students. If they will be presenting lectures oridea of the appropriate format at your school. They speaking during laboratory sessions, demonstratemay typically include: the teaching techniques you expect them to use, Name of the course, number of credits, classroom having your assistants standing in for the students meeting place and time, and semester and year for the purpose of the demonstration. You may the course is to be given. spend only an hour running through a few exam- ples, but it could make the difference between Name and contact information for you and any your teaching assistants shying away from your other faculty involved. methods and being willing to use them. Course Web site, if there is one. Help teaching assistants understand that teaching A brief course description and statement of overall is an experimental situation, and emphasize that course goals. they do not have to be perfect teachers. Teachers can continue to experiment and revise their A brief statement of objectives. courses, even after years in the classroom. A description of course format. Visit sections led by teaching assistants often, and A statement of assessment techniques. offer useful feedback in private soon after your visit. A schedule of class dates and topics. Before allowing others to grade papers for you, A schedule of due dates for papers, tests, and circulate a sample of papers and have each projects. assistant grade them independently using a rubric Pertinent information about academic policies and developed in advance. Meet with the graders, all procedures such as class attendance, make-up together if possible, to discuss the answers and assignments, late work, group projects, and grading. talk about how to resolve differences in how the graders may be viewing the questions.Determine if Students are Learning. Feedback Tell your assistants to come to you when seriouscan be obtained by reviewing student performance, problems arise, such as encountering studentsfrom student evaluations, from informal consulta- with obvious behavior or psychological problems.tions with students, and from evaluations fromyour peers. You might also want to have an informal Be sure to brief your teaching assistants onconsultation with a trusted senior teacher who professional standards of behavior, which may varyyou have recruited to help you as you start your from place to place. These often include standardsown teaching career. It might be useful to conduct regarding fairness and confidentiality, as well assuch evaluations periodically during the course, policies regarding acceptable levels of socializingparticularly if it is a new one. between teachers (including assistants) and(Sources: Hingorani, Manju. “Course Planning and Teaching,” Davis, students. For example, is dating allowed betweenBarbara Gross. “Preparing or Revising a Course,” Tools for Teaching. San students and their graders? It may also be impor-Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.) tant to give them some guidance on conducting meetings with students. For example, in someOnce you have taught your course, you will places it is common for students and teachers toprobably want to revise it based on your sense of meet only in offices with the doors open and otherwhether the objectives were met and on feedback people around, so that there can be no claims offrom students and colleagues. But resist the inappropriate behavior.urge to change or correct everything all at once.Instead, make small adjustments over time. TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 117
  • 127. A RELAXED FORMAT FOR TALKING ABOUT SCIENCE Start a monthly film club. Invite your laboratory group to watch and discuss a science-related movie. Though there are many wonderful educational films, this works even better with an entertaining cinematic movie. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has run a “Science in the Cinema” activity for those who live near its Bethesda, Maryland campus since 1994, and has a long list of movies— mostly box office hits—and resource materials that will add to a lively discussion. The list can be found at More advice on creating a culture of teaching in your lab can be found in chapter 10, “Expanding Your Influence: Training the Next Generation of Scientists.”CREATING A LEARNING TIME MANAGEMENTENVIRONMENT IN YOUR LAB WHEN BALANCING TEACHINGIn a very real sense, your laboratory is also a class- AND RESEARCHroom—one in which the scientific process oftenresults in something new, exciting, or unexpected. The amount of time you devote to developingIn the lab, as in the classroom, you will often want or teaching a course will depend in part on theto avoid lecturing and giving trainees answers priority your institution places on teaching. If yourtoo quickly, and will instead prefer to emphasize institution considers research its top priority, keepquestions and encourage reflection. You can create in mind that although you will want to be the besta culture of learning in your lab for all trainees by teacher you can in the time allowed, you shouldusing some of the teaching strategies described not permit your teaching obligations to undercutabove, and by encouraging members of your lab your commitment to research. Volunteer to teachgroup to learn from each other. the courses your department or institute particu- larly needs but are not as difficult to teach—thatStart a Journal Club. Journal clubs are a great way you can legitimately say, “Sorry, I am alreadyway to examine current literature and to let those committed” when you are asked to teach ajust starting in the lab know that there are many course that would be more time-consuming toquestions left to be answered. Ask a member of develop or teach.the lab to select an original peer-reviewed journalarticle, distribute it in advance to the group, Even if you cannot reduce the number of hours,prepare an introduction to the paper, and provide perhaps you could stack your teaching load soany relevant or background information. If you that you teach all of your classes in one semesterhave a large group, lab members can break up into and arrange to have a term with no teaching. Yousmaller groups to discuss research-related issues might also ask to teach multiple sections of the(How good is the data? Should more experiments same course to reduce your preparation time, andhave been done?), then reconvene and share request graduate assistants to help you gradetheir thoughts with the group as a whole. While exams. At the very least, you should try to clarifyyour students are learning about experimental your teaching load. How many classes will youdesign and other research issues, they will also have each term? What are typical enrollments inbe learning to collaborate and communicate. each class? How much time will you be expectedIdeally, journal club should be held on a weekly to spend advising students or supervising thesesbasis, but if that is not possible, one good way to or dissertations? Does supervising undergraduatekeep everyone up on current literature is to ask research count as teaching? How much crediteach member of the group to present briefly the do you receive for teaching the lab sections of aabstract of at least one paper at the beginning of course? Armed with such knowledge, you mightweekly lab meetings. (See chapter 4, page 58.) be able to make trade-offs that help you manage your teaching load more effectively. 118 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 128. Borrow, Adapt and Recycle. Teach the same course several times, so that you are just making adjustments to it rather than Sample Teaching Portfolio starting from scratch every year. A teaching portfolio includes these items: Teach a course previously taught by someone who is willing to lend you copies of his or her notes, Personal Material: A short statement exams, and homework assignments. of your teaching philosophy, a broader statement of your teaching responsibili- Borrow or adapt high-quality curricula that are ties, representative course syllabi, and already available. Curricula and sometimes lectures steps you have taken to enhance your from courses from universities worldwide are teaching skills or background knowledge. collected at the Open Courseware Consortium’s Web site, Links Materials from Others: Student and include the more than 1800 courses now online course evaluation data from present from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and former classes, statements from colleagues who have observed your the courses of the UK’s Open University, materials classroom teaching, statements from from several Spanish, Mexican and Colombian teaching assistants (TAs) you have universities, a translation project rendering supervised, and any honors or other materials into Portuguese, and technical courses recognition you received for teaching. from 11 universities in Paris. Products of Teaching: Student scoresKnow Yourself. on class, departmental, and national Consider your personal rhythms. If you have any certification exams, samples of student influence over scheduling, choose a class that does work, and testimonials from alumni or not completely disrupt your day. For example, you employers of former students. could teach two back-to-back classes or schedule days without classes to help you find time for your While the list might seem overwhelming research. at first and could take years to develop to the fullest, it is manageable if you take it Set realistic limits on your own class preparation in steps. The most important thing is to and do not be a perfectionist. start collecting and organizing information related to your teaching philosophy and accomplishments and to start compilingTHE TEACHING PORTFOLIO those materials in a box, a loose-leaf notebook,or another format that can easilyYou want to make sure that your teaching suc- be updated and supplemented.cesses are favorably considered as part of yourpromotion review. One way to do this is to developa teaching portfolio. This document is an importantasset—not only for your career, but also for your Becoming a good teacher may seem like a lot ofown professional development. Compiling your work with little reward, but remember that yourportfolio will force you to reflect on your teaching, research and teaching careers can work hand inso that you can continue to analyze and improve it. hand. Your research can inform your teaching,While there are many ways to compile a teaching and your teaching can inform your research.portfolio and many items you might include, typical Learning to be an effective teacher is worth theportfolios include a personal statement about your time and effort. Not only will you be instrumentalteaching philosophy, evidence of your teaching, and in inspiring and educating a new generation ofsupporting materials. Unlike your scientific CV, which scientists, but you will also enhance your ownlists all publications you have ever written, the skills, confidence, and creativity. Remember, too,teaching portfolio is more selective and has been that teaching can be a stabilizing force in your life,compared to an artist’s portfolio—a sampling of the especially if your research becomes discouragingbreadth and depth of your work. or you lose ground in the laboratory. The time you TEACHING AND COURSE DESIGN 119
  • 129. spend in preparing an effective course with active- Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco:learning activities can give great personal rewards, Jossey-Bass, 1993. “Quizzes, Tests and Exams” chapter,as your students demonstrate their knowledge a test or tell you that for the first time they Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco:really understand DNA structure and function. Jossey-Bass, 1993. “Preparing or Revising a Course”Since teaching is one of the three pillars on which chapter, about tenure and certain grants are Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco:made, your success in teaching and course design Jossey-Bass, 1993. “Preparing to Teach the Large Lecturewill only improve your chances of having a long, Course,” chapter,, and well-funded career in academia. ture.html. Drummond, Tom. “A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in Teaching,” gram/bestprac.htm. Resources for Undergraduate Biology Harvard Medical School Case Studies. http://brighamrad. Go to professors/ for an array of courses, high- Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Biointeractive. tech tools, and other resources developed Virtual labs, animations, and other resources. by accomplished research scientists (who are also gifted teachers) through grants Kuther, Tara. “Teaching 101”, from HHMI’s Professors Program. previous_issues/articles/2240/teaching_101. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. National Science Digital Library, a free online resourceBrinkley, Alan, et al. The Chicago Handbook for Teachers: for education and research in science, technology,A Practical Guide to the College Classroom. Chicago: mathematics and engineering. of Chicago Press, 1999. for/university_faculty/index.php.Handelsman, Jo, Sarah Miller Lauffer, and Christine Pfund. Reis, Richard M. “How to Get All-Important Teaching Expe-Scientific Teaching: A Guide to Transforming Undergraduate rience,” Chronicle of Higher Education’s Career Network.Biology Education. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman, 2006., Wilbert J., et al. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Rodriguez-Farrar, Hannelore B. “The Teaching Portfolio,”Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Harriet W. Sheridan Center, Brown University. www.brown.Teachers. 11th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. edu/administration/sheridan_center/docs/teach_port.pdf.Reis, Richard M. Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing for The Active Learning Site. A comprehensive bibliography ofAcademic Careers in Science and Engineering. Piscataway, articles about active learning. IEEE Press, 1997., Manju. “Course Planning and Teaching,” University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning.Davis, Barbara Gross. “Preparing or Revising a Course,” “Suggestions for Effective Lecture Preparation and Delivery”Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. effective/index.html.OnlineBioQUEST Curriculum Consortium, University of Texas at Austin Center for Teaching Effective- ness. Preparing a Teaching Portfolio, A Guidebook. http://Center for Faculty Excellence, University of North Carolina,, Douglas. “Learning How to Teach: How toDo It and Why You Want To,”, 120 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 130. CHAPTER 9 INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED“A WORD AFTER A WORD AFTER A WORD IS POWER. ” MARGARET ATWOOD Having an internationally recognized role in unfamiliar to those who make decisions about the advancing science requires that you make your course of science at your own institution or in your name familiar to people far from your own back- own country, your career progress will likely stall. At yard. Science is not an exclusive club, but as in the same time, the people you train, the work they most human activities, people will be more open do with you, and the work they may someday do to you and your work when they know you. The on their own extend your ideas and your influence published literature is the major route by which in the scientific community at home and far away. other scientists will come to have that critical sense of familiarity that will make you a “known factor” and a welcomed colleague to other UNDERSTANDING researchers around the world. PUBLISHING Your scientific success hinges on several factors. Once you have completed several years of Your ability to produce a body of publications that graduate school or medical school and postdoc- your colleagues will notice and respect is the toral research, you should be familiar with writing key to your success. Granting agencies, other scientific papers and the peer review process for journals, and your peers around the world look at scientific publishing. But you may not yet have your publication record as proof of your research been able to publish in the high-impact, mostly accomplishments. The importance of publishing international journals that will build your reputation. excellent work in well-regarded international To call a journal “high impact” is a description not journals cannot be overstated. No other way of only of its prestige and quality, but also of how becoming well known matters as much. far into the consciousness of scientists around For your career to really flow well, you must the world ideas published in it go. This chapter also develop into a recognized local, regional and provides some tips on planning for publication, national authority. If your work is known in and some tricks of the trade to help you get your London, Washington, Paris and Geneva, but utterly work out in front of other scientists. INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 121
  • 131. THE PUBLISHING PROCESS The most important advice I would like toTypes of Journals. Within the broad category of share with researchers just beginning theirpeer-reviewed journals, individual journals vary in independent careers is that the phrase ‘publishthe audience they try to reach and the scope of or perish’ is not just an overused cliché. Thecoverage they provide. Local journals are often not only way that people will know about your“indexed”, which means that they are not entered work is to have it published. Publishinginto the searchable mainstream of the scientific first-authored papers in high-impact medicalliterature where other researchers can discover journals like Lancet and New England Journalthem. Publishing in un-indexed journals thus does of Medicine contributed tremendously to mylittle to advance your career outside your own reputation as an established independentcountry. However, there are efforts underway to researcher. In publishing, think more about ”strengthen the peer review infrastructure of the quality than quantity of un-indexed journals—many of them in thesouthern hemisphere—so that they can become Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guineaindexed.Within indexed journals, there is a range of types.Some journals—for example, the top-tier journals if the magazines have recently run a paper on aScience and Nature—focus on a broad scientific similar topic. Getting an excellent review but notaudience. Others are deliberately narrower in an acceptance from one of these publications isscope, publishing research within a scientific good news, not a cause for disappointment. Andspecialty. Most journals are published in English getting an acceptance is even better.and have a broader readership, but many arepublished in other languages and are primarily read Work that can be published in an indexed journalwithin a single field or subfield of science. Within should be, because that is the best way for it to beeach group of journals there is a hierarchy in terms read by other scientists. But unindexed local andof how highly regarded each journal is. One of the regional journals should not necessarily be ignored.crude measures of a journal’s value is its impact Your work may be important for researchers andfactor—a measure of how frequently papers clinicians in your region to know about, and shouldpublished in that journal are cited in other journals(see “A Word About Impact Factors,” page 124).The more prestigious and high-impact the journal,the more competitive its publication process is. Free Journals for Developing CountriesThough there is great prestige in Science, Nature,or other top-tier journals, not every paper belongs The Health InterNetwork Access tothere. Science and Nature are both weekly Research Initiative (HINARI), a partnershipmagazines that not only transmit science but also between WHO and scientific publishers,carry news each week. Their content is meant to makes free access to biomedical literaturebe science that is especially interesting to a broad available to low-income countries. Moreaudience, and throughout the year they often than 2000 journals from more than 70 scientific publishers, including very highhave thematic issues highlighting some particular impact groups like Elsevier, Springer-Verlag,scientific topic. Much of any scientist’s work is not and John Wiley, are available throughbroadly interesting as a piece of news, but rather this program.represents advancement of an ongoing story, andis not appropriate for these publications. Even More information is available atexciting, unexpected results may be turned down 122 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 132. be published in the journals that they read. If your If you have a colleague or collaborator who haswork is published in an indexed journal, you should gotten a foot in the door and established himselfdiscuss with the editor the possibility of reporting or herself in the literature, you might approachthe results in local journals by re-publishing data that person with the idea of writing a reviewfrom the papers. together should the opportunity arise. This could benefit both of you. Reviews are extremely labor-If you get permission to republish the data, you intensive, so many authors who do get invitedmust make clear to local journal editors and read- to write them are happy to have a willing partnerers that the data has already appeared in print, or who wants to do some of the hard may be viewed as unethical. To write a good review, you need the breadth andCommunication Formats. In scientific journals, depth of knowledge that generally come only withprimary research holds center stage, although sig- long experience and from knowing a lot of scien-nificant space is often allocated to news, reviews, tists working in a field who will share unpublishedand commentaries. Depending on how complete data with you. Partnering with a better-establishedthe study is and how big a story the work to be scientist can help you gain connections to thosepublished tells, original research can be published other researchers and their unpublished data. Itin a variety of formats, including full-length articles, can be a great opportunity for becoming betterbrief communications, technical comments, or known to a broad group of the people whoseeven letters to the editor. work is moving science forward. But be carefulAs a beginning investigator, you should con- —a review that reveals your lack of expertise orcentrate on getting your research published as shows that your collaborator was not careful in hispeer-reviewed, full-length articles whenever or own review of the field could be embarrassingpossible. Technical comments and letters to the and career-damaging. You should only take on aeditor count for very little in most fields. task like this when you know you have the time and energy to do it well.A well-written and useful review may be worth theinvestment of your time, particularly if you have As your career progresses, you may want toalready collected all of the relevant literature that consider other opportunities to express your viewsshould be summarized. However, a review does —in letters, comments, and discussions of sci-not carry the weight of original research, and is not entific trends. Many readers of the good journalsas valuable to you in the long run as a paper that peruse this “front matter,” and contributing toreports original research. Generally, a journal editor it gives you quick and wide visibility. In the verywill invite you to submit a review. The invitations highest of the top-tier journals, however, frontare based in large part on the potential author’s matter tends to be commissioned by the editors,reputation in the relevant field. You may also con- leaving the letters to the editor section the onlytact editors yourself and propose writing a review place where you have a chance to get youron the strength of your unique perspective on a name in print if you have not yet established afield. Again, your reputation will be a major selling reputation.point to the journal’s editor in considering your The Editors. Some journal editors are professionalproposal of a review. Good reviews tend to get editors who trained as scientists but no longercited frequently by other scientists, which would work in a lab, or who trained as writers or editorsincrease your citation index (a measure of how and have chosen to become specialists in scientificmany researchers cite your work). It is a “which publication. Others are scientists who have theircomes first, the chicken or the egg?” situation. own research programs but also serve as editorsHow can you get known if becoming better known for a period of time. Journals such as Cell, Science,requires being known? Nature, and PLoS Biology are staffed by profes- sional editors. When speaking to a professional INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 123
  • 133. A WORD ABOUT IMPACT FACTORS The impact factor, which is published in the “Journal Citation Report” issued by Thompson Reuters, is one of several types of data regarding the communications of scientists. Thompson Reuters publishes the Science Citation Index, the thick, cross-referenced directories of all of the science published in a given field in a given year, once commonly found in scientific and technical libraries. The Science Citation Index is still produced, but is now more likely to be found in electronic form (either as DVDs or as the online resource SciSearch) than as a row of thick books. The impact factor, which is updated annually, is a calculated number that reflects how frequently the “average article” in a given journal gets cited. It is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations by the number of citable items published in that journal during the previous two years. Although the impact factor is often used to provide a gross approximation of the prestige and intel- lectual reach of a journal, many other factors can influence a journal’s impact and ranking. For example, review articles are generally cited more frequently than research articles, because they often serve as surrogates for earlier literature, especially in journals that discourage extensive bibliographies. Therefore, the inclusion of review articles in a journal will increase its impact factor. There is a strong bias against publications—many of them outside the axis of strong science-producing countries—that take several years to publish papers. This bias occurs because the window through which the impact factor looks—a period of two years—can miss the slower evolution of citations in journals where papers are considerably delayed. Other methods of measuring citations are used by other indexing efforts, including Google Scholar and the scholarly publishers group CrossRef. The United Kingdom Serials Group is promoting the “usage factor” (, and Google has developed its own calculation, the “Y factor” (, as a rubric for gauging the visibility and influence of a published work. The “h-index,” which ranks researchers by a combination of number of papers and how often the papers are cited, was developed by theoretical physicist Jorge Hirsch to rank researchers in that field and was published in the prestigious journal PNAS, where, perhaps predictably, it has been highly cited. Though the order of journals in these indexes may vary, they all illustrate that some journals will show off your work better than others.editor about your work, be sure to take the time Knowing when to Publish your highlight the general interest of your paper and Your institution may have some guidelines aboutexplain the nuances of the science. An editor who how many papers you are expected to publishis also an active researcher is more likely to already in a given number of years. Or publication mayknow these things, but short introductions to your be a rare event where you work. Make sure youwork and why it matters are always helpful. understand what your institution expects your rate of publication to be, and also that you understand what the “goal line” is, and how much publishingPLANNING FOR PUBLICATION matters with regard to whether you are judgedBecause publishing original research papers is to be successful by your own organization. At acritical to your career, this section focuses on well-established research institute, the standardsubmitting and publishing these types of papers. may be seeing some number of articles in print. At an ambitious new institute, submitting papers may be the current benchmark—actually seeing them in print at some given rate may be the rule 124 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 134. in a few years, but for today, just sending more In the top-tier journals, there are definite fashions,of them out is what is expected. At an institution and even more modest journals may view a greatthat is focused almost entirely on teaching, work paper on an out-of-date topic as being derivativetoward publishing may be valued, or it may be or a footnote to a story that has already passed by.seen as a distraction that takes you away from You will need to balance several considerations inactivities that those who will judge your success deciding when to publish, but if you have a choice,value more. it is a good idea to resist the temptation to rush intoIf you want to have an internationally respected print. Remember, the quality of your publicationscareer, you must publish. However, if you are at is what matters most in the long run. A paper thatan institution that does not value publishing or is incomplete or carelessly put together is less likelydoes not push researchers to publish, make sure to be accepted for publication, and having writtenthat you are excelling at doing the things that the it will have been an inefficient use of your time.institution expects you to do, and then work on Even worse, publishing incorrect results or shoddyyour publishing on top of that. analysis will damage your reputation among your colleagues, in your institution and elsewhere.If you have scientists training in your lab whowant to pursue research careers, each of themis under similar pressure to publish. To obtain CHOOSING A JOURNALresearch positions of their own in the near future, Most scientific papers published today havethey themselves will need to be working, as you multiple authors. All authors typically want toare, to establish a strong publication record. If you publish in the most prestigious journal that is likelyencourage them and help them toward that goal, to accept their paper, but views on which journalit will enhance your own publication record and is best will differ, especially if there are othermultiply your success. groups working on the problem and a rejectionResearch projects usually have natural points from a high-profile journal would leave you behindwhen it makes sense to publish (see “Creating an in the race to get your results into print. You mayIntegrated Research and Publication Plan,” page want to take into consideration the suggestions126). However, you may want to write up your of students and scientists training in your lab,results before you reach that point. If there is com- but if you are the senior author, you are generallypetition in your field and you wait to publish, you the one who makes the final decision. Decisionsrun the risk of being “scooped.” When you are about where to publish may become even morescooped—when someone else publishes the story complex when two or more laboratories havebefore you can—you will at best be able to place contributed to the work, or when one author isyour work in a journal that is not as prestigious as more tolerant of the risk of being scooped thanthe one you had initially envisioned; at worst may the others are.find yourself unable to publish it at all. If you delay Here are some questions that can help guide yourpublishing until you obtain the complete set of decision:results needed to dissect an entire phenomenon,you may get scooped and/or you may publish at a Are my results sufficiently groundbreaking, and dorate that will disappoint your institution. You want they have enough general appeal, to be consideredto publish good, solid, complete stories, but if you by one of the top-tier scientific journals? Do I havewait to tell the whole story in a single publication, a larger story that makes my results really exciting?you risk the rest of science passing you by. A Even if my results are not earth-shattering, havetopic that is very interesting to much of the world I taken an interdisciplinary approach, making thethis year may be virtually unpublishable two years findings interesting to scientists in several fieldsfrom now, simply because the topic has been and therefore appropriate for a general journal?“overdone.” INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 125
  • 135. CREATING AN INTEGRATED RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION PLAN There is a balance to be struck between trying to produce a “dream paper” that may never get done and sending out a set of fragmentary observations. One way to find this balance is to integrate your plans for publication into your research plans. In her book At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator, Kathy Barker suggests strategies for doing this. As you decide on the long-term goals of your research and on the series of experiments or calculations you want to undertake, Barker suggests that you envision these experiments or calculations as components of a published manuscript or series of manuscripts. Think graphically; imagine how each set of results will be displayed in a figure, graph, or table. Put your ideas in writing at the outset, sketching out the hypotheses you want to pursue, the methods you intend to use, and the results you hope to get. By integrating research planning, the development of graphic images of your data, and the work of interpretive writing, you force yourself to focus your energy in a way that will move your project forward. The questions you generate as you analyze and write up the results of each experiment should suggest additional clarifying experiments, the results of which you should also express graphically. As you write, you will uncover gaps in information and shaky conclusions and will be able to do experiments that make the work stronger. Eventually, you should be able to decide that you have a set of results that warrants publication. If my results are primarily of interest to my Making Your Pitch. To make sure you write particular scientific specialty, which journals reach your paper for the right journal, you may want the members of that specialty? Within this group, to submit an initial query to your target journal which journal or journals have included articles on to gauge its interest in your work. Most journals my particular subject area in the past couple of have guidelines for submitting so-called pre- years? submission inquiries. This information can often Would any journal be particularly interested in my be found on the journal’s Web site. If the journal subject because it fits into a theme it has been does not provide guidelines, send an email to one pursuing? Some journals, and some editors, of the editors, who are usually listed near the front pursue their own special interests over time. of the journal and frequently can be found in the electronic version of English language journals byThe top-tier journals receive far more submissions searching for the word “masthead” (the namethan they can publish. For example, Nature rejects for the box that contains such information) at theabout 95% of the biomedical papers it receives. journal’s Web site. Try to find out the name of theBe realistic about your chances. You will lose editor who handles papers in your area of interest.precious time submitting your paper to the wrongjournal. A pre-submission inquiry usually includes: An abstract stating the purpose of the project,It helps to ask trusted colleagues where they think methods, and main findings and conclusions. Thisyour paper should appear. If they are frequent abstract can be slightly longer than the abstract ofreviewers for several journals in your field, they a typical research paper and may include citationswill have a good idea of what the standards are for of relevant journal literature. Make sure that theeach journal. abstract is clear to non-specialists and that they will be able to understand what the scientific advance is. 126 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 136. A cover letter briefly describing what questions led you to your research project, what you did, why WRITING YOUR PAPER you think your findings or methodology are signifi- Once you have decided where you want to submit cant, how your findings advance the field, and why your manuscript, review the journal’s editorial they are of special interest to that journal’s readers. guidelines (available from the journal’s Web site or Limit the cover letter to no more than 500 words. directly from the editor) and follow them carefully. Pick the type of paper that is most appropriate forIf English is not your first language and you are the story you want to tell. For example, a “note”pitching your manuscript to an English language might be described by a journal as a 1000-wordjournal, make sure the abstract and cover letter paper with no more than three figures, while aare clearly written and that there are no gram- “report” might be one of 5000 words and up tomatical errors. There are many companies that twelve figures. Which fits your data morespecialize in editing English manuscripts written comfortably? You might think of each figure asby authors who are strongest in other languages. a distinctive verse in a song. Are you singing aTheir services are expensive, but having the input quick, light tune, or a lengthy historical ballad?of people with good command of a language you Either size of paper is good, but you want tomay not know perfectly can make the difference choose the right size before you proceed.between a paper being read or not read by theeditors. If you have a colleague who is a good Once you have decided what kind of paper to write,writer, has English as a first language, and is print or make copies of a few different exampleswilling to help you, take advantage of the offer. of that kind of paper from the journal and analyzeRemember to thank him or her in the acknowl- them. How much room does each devote to theedgements section of the paper. introduction? Is the methods and materials section finely detailed or nearly perfunctory? Is the discus-Pre-submission inquiries are typically considered sion mixed in with the results or does it stand bywithin a few days at the top-tier English language itself? Summarize your analysis of the examplesjournals, but consideration times can vary widely and use the summary as a guide for outlining yourfrom journal to journal. When making your own paper.submission, it is fine to email the journal’s editorto ask about the expected time frame for review- The main consideration when writing a paper is toing the manuscript and accepting or declining the clearly describe your most important findings andsubmission. When that time has elapsed, follow their impact in your field. Do not let your manu-up with a telephone call or email to the editor. If script look like a compilation of lab data; makeyou make this second contact by phone, use the sure the reader can understand how you haveopportunity to make your pitch a second time advanced the field of research. But do not overdousing the same kind of persuasive arguments you it—claiming that your work is more important thanused in your cover letter. Be sure to allude to the it really is earns little more than contempt fromlarger context of your research—the big picture reviewers.that makes your particular effort meaningful. If you are the primary scientifically trained personYou can expect a reply of either “we’re not involved in generating the data, write the paper’sinterested” or “send the full manuscript.” A first draft yourself. But if the data has been gener-positive response to a pre-submission inquiry is ated by a student or scientist working under you,not a guarantee that the manuscript will be sent you might assign the task of writing the first draftout for formal peer review. The editor will want to of the paper to the student or scientist in yoursee the actual paper before making that decision. lab who did the work. That person should be the first author and you should take the role of senior author. In the life sciences, this is usually the last name among the authors listed. If someone senior to you at your institution will be senior author, you INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 127
  • 137. may need to take the first author position yourself, Once you have a good first draft, send it toespecially if you are early in your career and colleagues in your field and in your departmentbuilding your reputation. Generally, in multi-author for review. Have it proofread by someone in yourpapers the first and final names on the list are the lab with access to your data and the documentsones the reader will remember. you have cited. The last thing you want to do is to appear careless; doing so will raise suspicionsThis is a sticky problem, since often among the about the quality of all of your work. It is also amultiple authors there are more than two people good idea to give the paper to someone outsidewho have worked hard to generate the data and your field to see whether they understand itsthe thinking necessary to tell the story, and who importance. As mentioned in the section above, ifneed the benefits that come from taking one of the journal is not in your first language, it is a goodthese positions. It will be important for the people idea to ask a friend or colleague who is a nativeyou train to get first authorships themselves. or near-native speaker of the language for help.If someone above you at your institute always If your speaking skills in that language are trulytakes one of the prestige spots and you need excellent but you struggle with the rules of itsto take the other one, over time it will be very grammar, reading the paper aloud can make anyhard for your students to advance. But as a written errors more obvious. This is true for nativeyoung researcher, it may be dangerous for you to speakers as well.argue against this situation. As your own careeradvances and your reputation becomes solid, youmay be able to move yourself to second-to-lastauthorship, so that your trainees can shine. Over The “who writes the manuscript” problem istime your international colleagues, funders, and not trivial. I personally like to write the draft ofjournal editors should come to view you as senior. every graduate student’s first paper. For [the student’s] second paper, he or she writes theCompliance with the authorship criteria of the first draft. Postdocs always write their firstInternational Committee of Medical Journal drafts. Sometimes it is more difficult to edit orEditors and the implementation of a memorandum change a draft written by someone else than ”of initiation for each project, in which the roles writing the draft directly oneself.of participants and the principles for determiningorder of authorship are stated, can diminish theworry, hard feelings, and sense of inequality that Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentinacan come when distributing authorship, which is afundamentally important and greatly coveted formof recognition. (See chapter 4, pages 63-65, formore discussion of authorship.) In terms of other principles I would commentThe author who has actually done the hands-on that because thesis research is by definitionwork should be the person to prepare the figures, the original research of the student, thetables, and legends first, because a scientific student should have the opportunity to be thepaper is best written with the final form of the first author of the publication of this work. Ifdata in front of the writer. Then work with the the student is unable to draft the manuscript within a reasonable and, ideally, pre-establishedauthor to get the paper into shape. Although this period of time, then first authorship maymay not be the most efficient way to write a correspond to the investigator who assumespaper—there will be times when you could do it ” the writing of the paper.yourself much faster—it is important for peopleyou have trained to gain experience and feedbackon writing papers. Nancy Gore Saravia, Colombia 128 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 138. Three particularly difficult parts of a paper to write SUBMITTING YOUR PAPERare the title, abstract, and cover letter. Most major journals now require that manuscripts Title and Abstract. Create these two elements be submitted electronically through the journal’s after the manuscript is complete. The title should Web site. Each journal has its own requirements, summarize the take-home message of your paper. such as preferred file formats for text and figures The abstract should briefly summarize the paper and the procedures for uploading files. Consult and should stand on its own. Describe the experi- the journal’s Web site for specific instructions and mental question, the methods, the main results, be sure to follow them. If you have poor internet and the conclusion. Unless the main point of the connectivity, it may be a good idea to burn the paper is description of a new technique, methods paper to a CD or copy it onto a flash drive and in the abstract should be limited to a sentence or a take it to a place where the connection is more few words. Keep in mind that the abstract will reliable. If your available internet connections are announce the existence of your work to people very unreliable, you should follow up with an email who may not have time to read your paper. If the to the editor enquiring whether the attachments abstract attracts their attention, they could be arrived intact. induced to read your article rather than passing on to the next abstract. Also note that your title and Regardless of whether they receive a paper abstract will be used as the basic tools for the manuscript or an electronic version, most journal retrieval of your paper from electronic and paper editors will let you know that they have received libraries. your manuscript and how long you can expect the Cover Letter. The cover letter should explain why review process to be. the paper is significant and why you think it is appropriate for the journal to which you are submit- NAVIGATING THE REVIEW PROCESS ting it. The letter should cite a major question in your field and describe how your work helps answer If you submit your manuscript for publication in it. You may want to cite other papers the journal a peer-reviewed journal, the reviewers will be has published in this field, or provide other reasons chosen by the journal’s editor, who will take into why the journal’s readership would find your work account any names you have suggested, his or of interest. The letter of introduction is the place to her own knowledge of the field, and a literature mention whether there is competition in the field search. that could lead to your being “scooped.” You may Receiving the Reviewers’ Comments. A paper also include a list of colleagues who have reviewed is rarely accepted after the first round of review. the paper and any information necessary to ensure When you receive the editorial decision and the a fair review process. Most journals will give you reviewers’ comments, you will have to decide an opportunity to suggest people who are qualified how to proceed. If the paper is rejected, print to comment on your work and to exclude one or the rejection notice and set it aside. Rejection is two particular individuals who may be competitors never easy. A few hours later, after you have had and should not be reading about your work before a chance to adjust your thinking to the inevitable it is published. need to clear a new hurdle, read the letter slowlyMany books and articles that explain how to write and carefully to see what it is saying. Ignore forscientific papers are available in print and online. a moment, if you can, the comments about theSome are listed in “Resources” at the end of this science and look instead for the editor’s signalschapter. about what you should do next. INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 129
  • 139. SUBMITTING IMAGE FILES Today, most images are obtained digitally and programs such as Adobe Photoshop make it very simple to modify them. But sometimes by adjusting an image you can make inappropriate changes to your data, which could be classified as scientific misconduct. Since 2002, The Journal of Cell Biology has been doing simple, routine checks of every image of all accepted manuscripts to look for signs of manipulation. In some cases, this step has caused editors to withdraw the acceptance of a paper, and in a few cases, to notify relevant institutions. Other prominent journals, including Science and Nature, may take similar steps. Here is what The Journal of Cell Biology says constitutes inappropriate manipulation of images: “No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Nonlinear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.” For more information, see Rossner, M., and Yamada K. M. “What is in a Picture? The Temptation of Image Manipulation.” J. Cell Biol. 166(1):11–15, 2004.Many times you will be clearly and absolutely resubmit your paper or try another journal. Inturned down. In other cases, the editors will say any event, it is important to remain unemotionalthat the work is potentially interesting but too during such conversations.preliminary, or that it has significant flaws that Responding to Reviews. Do not react defen-preclude its publication. But other times—quite sively. Focus instead on the substance of eachoften—you will see that the editor is giving you editorial comment. Value good advice wherevera short to-do list of experiments based on the you find it. Read the reviews carefully, and com-reviewers’ comments, and that the journal will be municate your responses in writing to the editor. Itglad to consider the revised paper. And still other is a good idea not to respond as soon as you heartimes—not frequently, but also not rarely—you from the editor. Let a couple of days go by. A hast-will see that the editor will accept the paper if you ily written and emotional response will hurt youronly respond to a few quibbles over language. chances for resubmission. Do not be sarcastic andSometimes the editors will indicate that they would do not speculate on who the reviewer might be orlike to publish your work, provided you make a few why he or she might be trying to thwart your work.minor revisions or do a few additional experiments. If the reviews include a request for additionalAnother possibility is that the reviewers will advise information that will require a few more experi-the editors not to publish the work even if it is ments, carry them out and send your responserevised, because it is either not sufficiently novel to the editor. You can make the process easier byor it does not fit the scope of the journal. Most repeating each comment, stating your response,editors are happy to talk to you by telephone to and indicating explicitly where in your paper youhelp you assess whether you should revise and are making a recommended change. 130 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 140. If you think a requested additional experiment is want to check with the editor first to make sureunreasonable, write a rebuttal letter explaining this is an appropriate course of action.why the experiment cannot be done or why it Regardless of how you proceed, keep yourwill not help strengthen the conclusions of your emotions in check. You should never demean thepaper. You may discuss your concerns with the reviewers. The reality is that reviewers, especiallyeditor before working on a revised manuscript. those who manage their own laboratories,For example, you should ask, “If I do revisions sometimes work under unrealistic time pressures.A and B, but instead of doing experiment C, I do Occasionally, the reviewer selected may nota different but related experiment, D, will you have the expertise to judge a paper competently.still consider a revised manuscript?” Remember Whatever the case, do not question a reviewer’sthat you are the person best acquainted with the expertise. If you think a reviewer missed andetails of your work and the limitations of your important point, politely tell your editor, who hasresearch tools. If you think a referee’s comments the option of identifying additional reviewers forare completely off the mark, write a rebuttal letter your paper if doing so seems warranted.explaining your concerns. If all three referees, oreven two out of three, had serious misgivings, In the end, you will have to do a cost-benefitit may be difficult to convince the editor that the analysis. If you believe that satisfying all thereferees missed the point. reviewers’ concerns would bog down your research program in unnecessary experiments,If the main problem is that the manuscript does you may have no choice but to take your papernot convey the importance of the work, you may elsewhere.want to rewrite it and add more data. You might IF YOU ARE ASKED TO REVIEW A PAPER As your relationships with journal editors develop, you may be asked to review manuscripts submitted by other scientists. Take the task seriously. Do the reviews thoroughly and promptly. If you do not have time or do not think you have the right expertise, let the editors know right away. If a paper arrives and upon reading it you see it is beyond your expertise, again, let the editor know quickly. They will not hold this against you. A late or weak review, however, could hurt your reputation with the editors. Once you have accepted a paper to be reviewed, do your work on it quickly so as not to delay the review process. This is good not only for moving the science forward but also for building a good rela- tionship with the journal. Be a discerning reviewer, but review others as you would like to be reviewed yourself. Be polite, not demeaning. Be specific about the paper’s shortcomings, and be frank about how the author might remedy them. Not every paper merits publication, but do not frame your comments so harshly that the investigator will see no way forward with his or her work. You will be asked not to reveal the contents of any article reviewed and will be reminded that you should not use your knowledge of the pre-published results to further your own research. Take this ad- monition seriously—it is essential that you respect the confidentiality of the review process. If you have a conflict of interest that precludes you from reviewing an article (e.g., you are directly competing with the author of the article you are reviewing or the author is one of your former trainees), stop reading the paper and let the editors know immediately. They will not be pleased if they find out about a conflict of interest after you have reviewed the paper. The benefits of serving as a reviewer are potentially great. Not only will you learn about others’ research, you will improve your own critical skills and confirm your standing as a knowledgeable scientist in the eyes of the editors. Your own future papers will be taken more seriously if you do good reviews. INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 131
  • 141. Submitting your Paper to Another Journal. PUBLISHING HONESTLYIf you are advised that your paper is not appropriatefor the journal to which you have initially submitted The number of publications is often used as a wayit (e.g., it is not sufficiently novel or does not to keep score, with researchers who publish morehave the right focus), the best course is usually viewed as superior. But publishing papers thatto select another journal. In some cases, you may are too similar, or that show your work movingnot want to inform editors of the second journal only a fraction of a step forward, may lead otherthat the manuscript was submitted elsewhere researchers to view you as a weak scientist.and rejected—it might prejudice the process. For Publishing the same data as more than one paperexample, if your paper was rejected by Nature and is not generally acceptable, except in studiesyou resubmit it to Science (or vice versa), do not where the older data is clearly built and expandedlet the editors of the second journal know. These with new work. Even in cases where new workjournals compete for the best papers and do not makes substantial use of old data, the norm inwant to publish each other’s rejects. If, however, research papers is usually to cite an earlier paper,your paper was reviewed by Nature or Science not to re-publish material from it. Review articles,and the reviews were generally positive but the which openly gather information from othereditor did not feel the paper had a sufficiently high papers, digest it, and present it as a digestedimpact value for a top-tier journal, you may be able whole, are different in this way from researchto use the reviewers’ comments as leverage for publications.your next submission to a field-specific journal that Substantially re-publishing an entire paper underis not seen as a competitor to those two broader a new title or in a different language is a form ofpublications. Ask the first journal’s editor to sup- scientific misconduct. While the increasing num-port the resubmission, and tell the second editor ber of publications in the world makes it easierthat your paper has already been reviewed. The to cheat, increased use of electronic formats hassecond review process may be expedited. made duplications easier to detect. While cheatingRegardless of your course of action, never send a by republishing is a significant offense, claimingrejected manuscript without changes to a second the work of others as your own is a moral andjournal. If the same reviewers receive it from the professional disaster which can and should endsecond editor, which may well happen if they are one’s career.especially well-suited to consider the work, theywill be annoyed to see that you have completely WHAT IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE?ignored their comments. Corrections are a normal and acceptable part of science. Errata—notes published to alert others to mistakes in the literature—-cover everything from small printing errors such as an out-of-place table to technical errors that skewed results but did not change the overall message of the paper. Retrac- tions are more serious: they withdraw a paper from the literature because of a gross failure that renders the paper’s contents invalid or seriously tainted. Retractions are embarrassing, but over time, an honest, careful researcher can recover from having had a paper retracted. 132 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 142. PROMOTING YOUR WORK Once you have an invitation, take it seriously. Prepare and rehearse your talk.Your patience and persistence have paid off, and Consider going public. Contact your institution’syour article has been accepted by a good journal. public relations office, if there is one, for helpNow you can use your newly minted publication contacting the media. It is in the university’sas a tool in a legitimate effort at self-promotion. interest to have the good work of its scientistsYou want to become known to your scientific publicized.colleagues nationwide. Here are some things youcan do to promote your work: If your research was supported by an outside funder, let the appropriate staff at the funding organization Announce the publication on your personal Web know about the publication as soon as possible. site and in email correspondence with your friends. Consider making it available in PDF format on your If a reporter contacts you, make an effort to speak Web site, if that is acceptable to the journal. Many with him or her. Your university’s public relations journals now also allow you to distribute PDF office can help you prepare for the interview. Keep copies of papers to interested individual readers as in mind that many reporters are not scientists and you once would have done with paper reprints. you will need to give them sufficient background to understand the importance of your work. If pos- Give a workshop at your own institution on the sible, ask reporters to give you a copy of the story research described in your article and your future before it is published so that you can check for research plans. Doing so is relatively easy and is accuracy. While some feature writers will respond good practice. positively, most news reporters will turn down this Call your friends at universities around the country request. It never hurts to ask, though. or region and offer to give a talk on your research at their institutions or at conferences they are organizing. However, do not invite yourself to a meeting by writing to the organizers if you do not know them. You might come across as arrogant and put people in the awkward position of having to turn you down. INCREASING YOUR IMPACT: GETTING PUBLISHED 133
  • 143. RESOURCES Dee, Phil. “Your First ‘First-Author’ Paper: Part One -- The Writing.” (February 15, 2002), http://Davis, Martha. Scientific Papers and Presentations. San Academic Press, 1997. previous_issues/articles/1400/your_first_first_author_ paper_part_one_the_writing.Day, Robert A. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper.5th ed. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1998. Dee, Phil. “Your First ‘First-Author’ Paper: Part Two -- The Act of Submission and Peering at the Review Process.”Day, Robert A. and Gastel, B. Cómo escribir y publicar (March 15, 2002), http://sciencecareers.trabajos cientificos. Organización Panamericana de la Salud, Ed. 2008. articles/1470/your_first_first_author_paper_part_2_the_act_Matthews, Janice R., John M. Bowen, and Robert W. of_submission_and_peering_at_the_review_process.Matthews. Successful Scientific Writing: A Step-By-Step Hirsch, J. E. (2005). “An index to quantify an individual’sGuide for the Biological and Medical Sciences. 2nd ed. scientific research output.” PNAS 102 (46): 16569–16572,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000., W. “Me Write Pretty One Day: How to Write a Good The International Network for the Availability of ScientificScientific Paper.” J. Cell Biol. 165:757–758, 2004. Publications ( focuses on com-Online munications for scientists in the developing world. OneCurran-Everett, Douglas. “The Thrill of the Paper, the of their programs, AuthorAID (,Agony of the Review: Part One.” provides connections to resources and senior scientists(September 10, 1999), http://sciencecareers.sciencemag. who will help researchers in developing countries publishorg/career_development/previous_issues/articles/0210/the_ and otherwise communicate their work.thrill_of_the_paper_the_agony_of_the_review_part_one.Curran-Everett, Douglas. “The Thrill of the Paper, theAgony of the Review: Part Two.” 24, 1999), 134 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 144. CHAPTER 10 EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS“ALL WHO HAVE MEDITATED ON THE ART OF GOVERNING MANKIND HAVE BEEN CONVINCED THAT THE FATE OF EMPIRES DEPENDS ON THE EDUCATION OF YOUTH. ” ARISTOTLE Teaching someone how to perform a task, or even One need not have just one mentor—there may teaching a student to understand the fundamentals be several people who take a significant interest of a field, is one thing. Taking significant responsibil- in developing, accelerating, or advancing a ity for seeing to that student’s growth, seasoning, researcher’s career. Likewise, everyone in whose and career advancement is another. training you take an interest will not become a protégé; many will simply be your students. The word “mentor” is often sloppily used in place of verbs such as “teach” or “supervise” or nouns How can you look for relationships that will advance such as “boss” or “professor.” However, when your own career? And why will taking on this used properly, it means more than to train or to demanding role to help others help you in both the be in charge of. A mentor is someone who takes short and the long run? What is expected of you a singular and particular interest in a protégé and in relation to the students who do not become helps in many different ways to advance the pro- your own protégés? And how can you help those tégé’s career. So a mentor, although sometimes students find appropriate mentors of their own? also a boss or supervisor, is most importantly like Those are the subjects of this chapter. a good parent or doting uncle or aunt who takes a serious interest in a protégé’s career and advance- ment through life. TRAINING OTHERS Although the word is seemingly everywhere in If you mentor a student or another scientist, conversations about educating scientists, true whether it is someone training in your lab or mentorship is rare, and those who are truly someone who grew up in the place where you mentored are lucky and advantaged over those were raised, you will be helping get their career off who must go it alone in advancing their careers. the ground. Mentoring and training also helps you EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS 135
  • 145. increase your impact as a scientist. By helping “trainees,” although not everyone you encouragethose around you succeed, by ensuring that people or educate may be receiving training in your lab,in your laboratory and in your larger circle feel and not everyone you train will become a protégé.)competent and included, by motivating them to beproductive, you are ensuring the success of your WHAT IS MENTORING?own research program. Scientific training is most often a personal, one-As the people you are training and encouraging on-one relationship between a more experiencedembark upon new projects of their own, you will scientist and a junior scientist or a scientist-in-naturally be kept abreast of the latest scientific the-making. But it can also be between peers,developments in the areas that interest them. And one of whom is entering a new field and anotherwhen people in your lab, or others with whom you who knows that field well. The trainer is exposedhave this special relationship, establish indepen- to the trainee’s energy, curiosity, and ideas, anddent careers of their own, their achievements as the trainee receives the guidance and encourage-independent scientists will reflect positively on ment necessary for professional Also, the people you train and encourage will Mentoring and training relationships commonlybecome potential collaborators and colleagues form across broad experience gaps—e.g.,who may continue to confide in you and bring you professor to student, but also can be establishedinto their own growing spheres. That will come between junior and senior students, or betweenabout both informally and formally as they invite peers or near peers. For example, a graduateyou to give talks at their institutions and participate student whose background is in biology may takein the conferences they will someday organize. a mentoring role for a graduate student whoseAs the head of a laboratory, you will probably hire background is in mathematics, or a graduatetechnicians, perhaps assume responsibility for the student may become a mentor to an undergradu-direction of graduate students, and take on a few ate who shares his or her scientific interests.scientists who want to train in your lab. If you are Mentors sometimes include those who are offi-at a university where undergraduate students are cially responsible for the work of junior scientistsexpected to do laboratory research, you may have or students, such as the head of a laboratory or aa few of them in your lab as well. It is also pos- formal advisor (in some places such formal headssible that young scientists outside your lab may are referred to as mentors no matter how deepbegin knocking on your door, especially if you have their commitment to training a given individual).expertise in an area most people are not familiar The depth of a senior scientist’s involvement andwith. Within your research community and your interest in a trainee’s career and work may begeographic region, you will increasingly be seen as limited, especially when there are many peoplethe expert in your area of interest. being trained or in cultures where there are strictIt is natural that people will come to you for insight limits on personal contact between professorsand advice about their own scientific interests. and those whom they teach.At the same time, you will continue to be in need However, it is also important to have mentors,of guidance for your own continuing professional advisors, and trainers who are outside the directdevelopment, and like those who seek your help, line of authority, or even outside the trainee’syou will be looking to more experienced people primary area of interest, because those who arefor insight and advice. This chapter describes the further removed from the student’s interest mayprocess of providing the very hands-on training of ask questions that will help the trainee movean individual scientist, with a focus on preparing along better than those who share most of thethe people working in your lab. It also suggests student’s assumptions. Mentors who have somedesirable personal qualities and plans of action distance—and therefore good perspective—canfor trainers, mentors and trainees. (Note: In this be especially helpful in providing guidance whenchapter, the people you train are referred to as 136 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 146. formal advising relationships become strained, with younger scientists who trust your judgment.or when the personal or professional interests of You should treat all information as confidential.the trainee differ from those of the formal mentor,or when a young person’s best interests are not RESPONSIBILITIESthose of his or her advisor, supervisor, or boss.Perspective becomes even more important Mentoring entails commitments of time, energy,as careers advance and ranges of conflicting and good will that can sometimes be substantial.opportunities come into play. But that is also true for trainees you are not mentoring. A significant portion of your time mustTraits of a Good Mentor and a Good Teacher. be allocated to each trainee, and you must be pre-As you establish yourself as a scientist, you may pared to obtain the resources the trainee needs.find that some of the following personal qualities Your “pull” will accomplish things that a less-are useful in forming bonds with someone who is established trainee’s own influence cannot. Youjust learning the things you have already learned: should also use your experience and contacts to Accessibility: An open door and an approachable help the trainee establish a professional network, attitude. whether or not you are looking at the trainee in terms of the special responsibility implicit in the Consistency: Acting on your stated principles on mentoring relationship. a regular basis. Choosing Whom to Mentor and to Teach. You Empathy: Personal insight into what the trainee will have to make case-by-case judgments about is experiencing. which training relationships you can afford to Honesty: Ability to communicate the hard enter into and how intensive each one should be. truths about the world “out there” and about the There are some people for whom you are clearly trainee’s chances. responsible as a teacher and advisor, such as the Open-mindedness: Respect for each trainee’s people working in your lab. The students in your individuality and for working styles and career courses also have legitimate expectations of you. goals different from your own. Others, outside your lab or courses, may come to you for advice. But you will not go the extra Patience: Awareness that people make mistakes mile for every person who comes into your lab or and that each person matures at his or her own rate. even for all of the students who take your courses. Savvy: Attention to the pragmatic aspects of Some people are more promising than others, and career development. you will want to nurture their talents. At the same time, you want to be fair—whenConfidentiality in Advising. As a trainer, and you agree to teach, you are taking on significantespecially as a mentor, you may be privy to a lot responsibilities. Some students will have interestsof information about your trainees, from their closely related to yours, and it is natural for you topast professional accomplishments and failures want to work closely with them. Others will showto, sometimes, revelations about their personal promise, but will be needy in some respect; forrelationships and financial situations. Even in example, their skills may not be fully developedplaces where discussing family matters, emotions, or they may need help focusing their efforts. Door money is just not done, personal obligations not pick a few favorites and let other trainees fendand financial realities are frequently major factors for themselves. With the people in your lab, thein individuals’ progress through life and science— important thing is to be fair and avoid anointingespecially for those considering major upheavals some trainees with your favor while letting otherssuch as going abroad for further training or job struggle. With people outside your lab who ask foropportunities. Your advice can be very helpful if your help, you need to avoid overextending your-you can bring yourself to discuss these taboo areas self or setting up expectations you cannot fulfill. EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS 137
  • 147. QUESTION q&a How do I communicate the level of my commitment, especially cases where that commitment is limited? ANSWER It is always a good idea to lay out for trainees a clear picture of what they can expect from you. Good students should be able to expect training from you, support for their work, access to resources necessary for them to succeed at the work they are doing in your lab, and help with someday moving on to their next training position or to a job. If you are only able to commit to some of those things, make it clear from the outset. If you would like to do far more to help a trainee’s prospects in the long term, you do not need to say so. Actions will speak louder than words. QUESTION How do I say no to being someone’s advisor? ANSWER Be kind. Imagine yourself in your requestor’s shoes. Listen intently and give reasons related to your own limitations. However, be clear and firm. Do not invite misunderstanding. Suggest alternative sources of help, but check first with other potential advisors before your enthusiastically recommend them as potential advisors.Defining your Role as an Advisor. Generally, a American body concerned with graduate educationresearch advisor provides whatever is needed to (, suggests that mentorsfurther a trainee’s professional development, but come from many roles, including:is not necessarily a friend. You should offer to teach Advisors: People with career experience willingtechnical skills, give advice about the political aspects to share their knowledge.of science, and suggest networking opportunities.You can help clarify what is possible, but you Supporters: People who give emotional andshould probably not offer advice on personal mat- moral encouragement.ters except in major decisions about career choices Tutors: People who give specific feedback onas described above. Often, emotional issues are one’s performance.relevant to one’s capacity to do good work, and youcan offer moral support, but a good mentor, like a Masters: Employers to whom one is apprenticed.good friend, should tread carefully around family Sponsors: Sources of information about opportu-matters and emotional conflicts. nities and aid in obtaining them.Mentor Versus Advisor. In theory, mentors have Models of identity: The kind of person onemultiple responsibilities. Being an advisor is one should be to be an academic or a professionalof them. The Council of Graduate Schools, an scientist. 138 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 148. In reality, it is unlikely that any one individual can and networking opportunities you can afford. Theyfulfill all possible mentoring roles. For this reason, will be much happier and more productive whilemany argue that the term mentor should be used they are with you if they feel you are looking outbroadly to mean an individual who helps another for them and their future well-being.with one or more aspects of his or her personal Encourage Strategic Thinking and Creativity.and/or professional development. In this sense, Trainees in your lab, especially newcomers, maytrainees are encouraged to seek out various not have the experience to judge how long tofaculty members who can provide some of those struggle with an experiment or a project that iscomponents. not working. As the person steering the larger scope of the work, you must decide what projects are most important, how long a given projectSTRATEGIES FOR should be pursued, and what resources can beEFFECTIVE TRAINING allocated to any particular effort. As the boss, youMake Everything a Learning Opportunity. It should communicate the basis and significancehelps to think of serving as a trainee’s advisor of your decisions to your trainees. You may feelas a highly individualized mode of teaching (see that you need not explain yourself to anyone, andchapter 8 for more information about teaching). that may be true. But when you have made yourEstablishing a “culture of teaching” in your lab can decision, informing people why can be educationalhelp ensure that each individual feels empowered and helpful to morale. It gives your trainees ato seek whatever information, education, or tech- better understanding that although the decisionsnical advice he or she needs to do good science. are yours, they are not whimsical or unfair. In this way, you give concrete examples of strategicSet Specific Goals and Measures of thinking and prepare your trainees for the dayAccomplishment. Work with each individual— when they may be in charge of their own researchwhen you meet formally to discuss the person’s programs and face similar decisions.progress, in the course of lab meetings, and onother occasions when his or her work is under It is also important to give people enough spacereview—to set specific goals and measures of to be creative. Do not rush in too quickly withaccomplishment. For example: interpretations of data or solutions to problems. Let your staff take the first stab. Be thoughtful For a student, you might want to establish a and ask probing and guiding questions that help publishing goal. It should include deadlines. them learn to be thinkers. By doing this, you For a more experienced scientist training in your prepare your trainees to work through projects lab, job-hunting goals might be important. You independently, while at the same time you will might say, “By next month, give me your list of benefit from their insights and creativity. places you want to apply to. Then we can talk Uphold Professional Standards. Those new to about developing your job talk.” research are still forming their professional stan- Have technicians identify new skills they need dards and habits. They will be working with you (e.g., using new equipment or software). Give for months or years and will learn your lab’s way them time to learn and the opportunity to take of doing things. Set high standards for yourself courses or seek help from others. Then ask them and your workers, and make sure your lab offers to demonstrate what they have learned at a staff an encouraging and disciplined environment. meeting. Experienced lab leaders list these essentials:In some cases, you may have to push people a bit Encourage good time management set their goals. In other cases, people’s goals At the same time, respect individual patterns ofmay be well-defined, but may not exactly fit your work. (See chapter 5, “Managing Your Time.”)lab’s overall goals. If you can, give them room to Clearly state your expectations. Let people knowexplore options, and offer whatever educational when they are not meeting them. EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS 139
  • 149. Offer criticism and correction in a way that conveys Allowing trainees to meet with seminar speakers your message but does not shame or discourage invited to your institution. people. When possible, take trainees with you to meetings Keep abreast of laboratory record-keeping. This and introduce them to your colleagues. is a key management responsibility and an aspect Encourage trainees to approach your colleagues of mentoring. As the person responsible for the about scientific matters, using your name, as by work being done, you are also responsible for emailing “I am a student in Dr. ’s lab, seeing that your people keep meticulous records and wonder if I might ask you some questions documenting their work and meeting regulatory about your recent work on hemoglobin transport.” requirements. This habit will serve them well later on. By reviewing lab notebooks frequently, you Encourage trainees to make presentations at also guard against falsification of data. meetings when they are ready.Impart Skills. Do these things to encourage your Provide Moral Support. You can help the peoplelab workers to learn new skills: you train and mentor estimate their own potential and chart their life course. To do so, you must be Involve everyone in the scientific publishing and supportive and honest. Try to convey to each of grant-writing process. Part of your job is to teach your trainees that you have a commitment to him your trainees how to write publishable scientific or her and that when a problem surfaces, you papers and successful grant proposals. For papers, have an interest in helping to solve it and will do have the first author write the first draft, and then send the paper around the lab for review. For everything you can to do so. proposals, have each person write a piece of the proposal, and then have everyone review succes- sive drafts of the whole package. By doing this, DIFFERENT NEEDS everyone will gain invaluable experience and get a AT DIFFERENT STAGES chance to see the big picture of the lab’s activities. Each type of individual who may ask you for advice Impart technical skills. As a manager, you need to —for example, a student, a more experienced know the skill sets of each member of your lab, and scientist training in your laboratory, a clinician, a make sure that each important skill is passed on technician, or a cousin who hopes to go to medical to several people in the laboratory, for their benefit school some day—is on a different professional and yours. If only one person in the lab can perform trajectory. As you work with them, you need to a particular technique, you are risking your future keep in mind their path and their location on that on an assumption that this person will not leave. path. Teach lab management explicitly. Give the people Educating Undergraduate Students. The seeds in your lab managerial responsibilities, at least of a scientific career are planted in the undergradu- within the confines of the lab space. For example, ate years or even earlier. Undergraduate students have them coordinate among themselves the can be invited to take part in research through sharing of equipment in the lab, or ask them to an academic program at your institution or at a draw up a list of routine lab jobs to be rotated nearby university. They may be eager to find paid among lab members. work during the school year or during schoolProvide Networking Opportunities. One of breaks. Take their interests and their work seriously,the most important benefits you confer upon and set high standards for them. You might placethe people you train is entrée into the network them under the day-to-day guidance of a well-of scientists in your field. Your reputation opens trained person in your lab, but you should maintaindoors for those associated with you, and the a strong role in overseeing their training and theconnections are not likely to be made without overall flow of their work within the lab. Keep inyour involvement. So take steps to facilitate the mind that these beginning researchers may needintroductions, including: extra encouragement when their experiments are not going smoothly. 140 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 150. and perhaps more active job-hunting assistance. One of the best ways of hiring good and If the student wants to go abroad for further train- dedicated researchers is to screen students in ing, you may need to put some effort into helping your lab during rotations and thesis dissertations him or her find opportunities, and at least should ” and retain the best ones. help the student by sending introductory emails to colleagues abroad who know your work. This will help keep the student’s inquiries to these labs Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali from being overlooked or discarded. Working with Scientists who are FurtheringTraining Graduate Students. In science as in Their Training in your Lab. You may have highlyother fields, graduate education is vastly different trained professional scientists working in your labfrom the undergraduate experience. Perhaps the for a limited time to conduct research within themost important difference is that undergraduates general parameters of your shared interests. Thisare expected to be primarily engaged in absorbing training may be a stepping stone to an academicknowledge, whereas graduate students are position. Your task as an educator and potentialexpected to begin to make their own contributions. mentor of new scientists is complex.An advisor helps new graduate students make this Keep in mind that the amount of time you cantransition. A graduate student may have several spend helping these scientists will be limited, somentors, but the most important person for a use that time efficiently. In addition, find ways tostudent’s success is the head of the laboratory have them help one another or obtain assistancewhere the student is working. from other sources.A typical graduate student follows this trajectory: You must strike a delicate balance in directing First year(s). As the head of the laboratory, your their work. Although the scientist training in main task is to provide a coherent plan of study for your lab may be working on your projects, it is the student. The student faces a steep learning appropriate to treat him or her something like a curve. Basic techniques must be learned, and often collaborator, rather than just as an employee or comprehensive exams taken, and a thesis topic student who requires close supervision. Encourage chosen. The principal investigator keeps tabs on the these individuals and give them the help they student’s progress. The student’s success depends need in setting research and career goals, but give on your effective communication of expectations them sufficient independence for them to take and help with clearing certain formal hurdles. considerable responsibility for the progress of their projects. Middle year(s). At some time during these years, the student may be struggling with his or her You do have a protective function when it comes experimental work. Things often do not work as to the politics of the larger academic world. The planned, and the uncertainty and slow tempo may scientists training in your laboratory are probably frustrate even very good students. You may help young, politically inexperienced, and vulnerable. the student out of a slump by offering moral Be prepared to steer them away from projects support and suggesting ways to tackle a scientific that might result in conflict with researchers who problem. By the middle part of training, the student are already working on similar projects and who will have learned a lot and should be sharing infor- might publish results before them. mation and techniques with colleagues, younger If a promising person has come into your lab but is students, and postdocs. Teaching others is a good not achieving what you both had hoped, encourage way to learn. him or her to make a change, whether to another Final year. The student is preparing to move on. project or to another lab entirely. You may be able The thesis should be near completion, and the to help this individual find a more suitable project search for a more advanced position should be un- or position. der way. You may be asked for letters of reference EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS 141
  • 151. It is important to discuss career goals with your (Adequate ethical permission should be attainedtrainees, especially those more advanced in their first.) Clinical work sometimes allows physician-research careers. Not all will be interested in a scientists to see connections that someone withlong-term competitive career in science. For those a basic science background training may miss. Aswho are, help them develop a project that will a researcher, you should take advantage of thisteach them many things and that produces ideas, perspective by making sure that questions aboutat least—if not whole projects—that they can use moving research results into the clinic, or bringingas seeds when they leave your lab and begin to clinical observations back to the bench come up inestablish their own labs. After they have gone, formal and informal discussions in the lab.keep in touch with them. They will be an increas- Working with Technicians. A technician is aningly important part of your professional network. employee who has been hired to get work done,You have a role to play facilitating your trainees’ not to advance his or her career. That being said,job hunts. Keep alert to job openings, counsel many technicians are a distinct type of professionalthem about the process, coach them on their scientist. You should understand and encourageinterview presentations, and give them the best their aspirations. Make it clear to them that theyletters of recommendation you can. Sometimes, are valued contributors to your projects. If they arewhen the search does not go smoothly, you may interested, you may want to give them researchneed to keep them in your lab a little longer than projects of their own. If their aspirations are purelyyou expected to, if you are able. Lack of continued technical, encourage them to gain new skills.funding for them may make this impossible, butsometimes their well-trained hands can be of HELPING THOSE OUTSIDE YOUR LABconsiderable use to you and it may be to yourbenefit for them to stay. Keep up the words of When you receive a request for significant careerencouragement during this difficult period. help from a young scientist in another lab, or even in another university, think carefully beforeAdvancing the Careers of Physician-Scientists. you agree. Do not enter into such a relationshipPhysician-scientists have an especially complicated secretly. Insist that the individual inform his or herbalancing act: caring for patients and carrying out direct supervisor that you two are speaking. Onexperiments at the bench. As a result, they may the one hand, the request says something positivenot be able to spend as much uninterrupted time about your standing in the research community,in the lab as their Ph.D. colleagues. However, and by taking on a new relationship you mightthe strength of physician-scientists is that they open up the possibility of future collaborations andhave a clinical base. As someone involved in increase the impact of your work. On the othertheir training, you should understand the unique hand, there may be problems you are not awarechallenges physician-scientists face, and you of. Ask yourself the following questions:should value the insights their clinical perspectivecan bring into the lab. Help physician-scientists Why is this person asking me for help? There mayin your lab to establish priorities and develop be a negative reason. In the case of a postdoc,effective time management skills. If you are not perhaps he or she is dissatisfied with relationshipsa clinician yourself, you might put them in touch in the home lab. If this is the case, make sure youwith someone who can help them with these are not offending the individual’s supervisor. Youcompetencies as they apply to the clinical side may find, however, that the supervisor welcomesof their responsibilities. In addition, encourage your help as an extra resource.physician-scientists in your lab to use their clinical What are the person’s expectations? You need tobase. For example, they might enroll patients from be clear about whether you are being asked fortheir clinic or practice following a simple protocol. occasional advice or for long-term assistance. If itThey might collect answers to a questionnaire is the latter, determine whether your role as an ad-with demographics, or obtain data on clinical pre- visor will be formal, involving scheduled contactssentation, progression and response to therapy, as and expectations of a particular amount of yourwell as collect relevant serum or tissue samples. time, or informal and confined to occasional con- versations as the trainee’s work moves forward. 142 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 152. Do I really have the time and energy to commit to Seek out informal advisors, usually experienced this relationship? scientists within your department or elsewhere who can give you a broader perspective on science Is this someone who is smart, honest, and capable? and scientific politics. It is especially important to Is this someone I want to advise and work with? do this if your institution has not officially given you any contacts to serve as guides during yourThe people in your lab deserve priority. But if the early days.person fits, and you can extend yourself, do so. Establish a set of work-based friends and confidants. These are people with whom you canHOW TO GET THE openly share information about politically sensitive issues. Choose them carefully. You may be moreCAREER HELP AND comfortable limiting your confidants to one-on-oneADVICE THAT YOU NEED relationships. Or you may find a group that puts you in close touch with colleagues whose situationsFinding people who will be your own advisors, are similar to yours.teachers, and mentors is another way of makingyour achievements and contributions known at Keep meetings professional. Respect others’ timeyour university and other institutions, thus increas- constraints. Be prepared and specific about whating your impact and helping you advance in your you need from them and what you are askingcareer. Finding help requires knowing whom to ask them to do for you.for what, knowing how to accept the professionaladvice you receive, and maintaining long-term How to be Well-Advised. Here are some qualitiespersonal and professional relationships. to cultivate in yourself as you seek an informal education in how to move forward to whateverThese suggestions may be useful: goals you hope to achieve: Do not let go of those who have taken an interest Foresight: Start early to think about your future. in your career. Stay in close touch with all of your past advisors, even those with whom you only Gratitude: Everyone likes to be thanked. worked for a short time or in a limited way. Humility: Be willing to accept critical feedback so Although they may not be familiar with your new that you are open to learning new ways of thinking environment, their distance from it, combined with about and doing science. their general understanding of the world of science, can help you put your current environment in Proactiveness: Do not expect to be taken care of. perspective. Also, you never know when you will You could easily be overlooked in the competitive need to ask them for a reference or other profes- world of science. sional help. Even a quick email to let them know Probing: Ask tough questions. Find out about the that you published a paper or received a research experiences of others with this potential mentor. grant or an award will help them support your career. Reciprocation: Repay your mentor indirectly by Establish a relationship with a set of official advisors, helping others. especially if your institution assigns you to contacts with certain senior scientists who are meant to Respect: Be polite. Make and keep appointments. help you “learn the ropes.” These individuals may Stay focused. Do not overstay your welcome. also evaluate your job performance, so cultivate them carefully and treat them with respect. Generally, you do not want to vent your frustrations or confide your uncertainties and weaknesses to such a group. Keep them apprised of your prog- ress. Do not avoid them if things are going badly— address the problems directly and unemotionally, and enlist their help. EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS 143
  • 153. WHEN MENTORING, Barker, Kathy. At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press,ADVISORY, OR SUPERVISORY 2002.RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT Council of Graduate Schools, A Conversation AboutWORKING OUT Mentoring: Trends and Models. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools, 1995.What you view as a problem may simply be amatter of personal style or a different understand- Council of Graduate Schools, On the Right Track: A Manual for Research Mentors, DC: Council of Graduate Schools,ing of the mentor’s role. Have a conversation 2003.about getting the advice and help you need. Ifthat does not help solve the problem, you may Fort, Catherine C., Stephanie J. Bird, and Catherine J.need to think about finding others to help you as Didion (Eds.). A Hand Up: Women Mentoring Women inyou navigate your career. Within your institution, Science. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Association for Womenespecially if there are formal advising relationships in Science, 2005.set up, consider finding an additional guide if yours Nettles, M.T. and Millet, C.M. Three Magic Letters: Gettingis clearly and consistently uninterested in you, to Ph.D. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press,undervalues your abilities, or displays any other 2006.signs of undermining your work and your career. Nyquist, Jody D., and Donald H. Wulff. Working EffectivelyBut think carefully—someone who helps you see with Graduate Assistants. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sageyour shortcomings is actually helping you. Tough Publications, 1996.criticism or a discouraging word may be exactlywhat you need at a given moment. If your feelings Reis, Richard M. Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering. New York:get hurt now and then, it is not necessarily a sign IEEE Press, 1997.that your trusted advisor has turned against you.But find others to advise you if the people from Onlinewhom you have been taking advice behave American Association for the Advancement of Science.inappropriately by violating workplace rules or Science’s Feature articles onfailing to fulfill essential responsibilities to you— mentoring, example, by not sending letters of reference Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.or by not reviewing your grants and papers. Individual Development Plan for Postdoctoral Fellows. additional trusted advisors can always behelpful. However, be very careful about severing National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council.old relationships—even ones that were “forced Reports from the Committee on Science, Engineering, andmarriages.” Even if the relationship is not going Public Policy., you do not want to offend someone unnec- National Academy of Sciences, National Academy ofessarily. If the relationship is official, ending it Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Committee onwill require explicit action and will most probably Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. Adviser, Teacher,generate bad feelings. If the relationship is informal, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Studentsand you can just allow it to fade away, do so. If, in Science and Engineering. Washington DC: Nationalon the other hand, an un-productive advisor wants Academy Press, 1997. terminate the relationship, accept the decision php?record_id=5789.with good grace. It will be better for both of you. National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director. A Guide to Training and Mentoring in the Intramural Research Program at NIH. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes ofRESOURCES Health, 2002. ethic-conduct/TrainingMentoringGuide_7.3.02.pdf.Association for Women in Science. Mentoring MeansFuture Scientists: A Guide to Developing Mentoring University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School ofPrograms Based on the AWIS Mentoring Program. Graduate Studies. How to Mentor Graduate Students:Washington, DC: Association for Women in Science, 1993. A Guide for Faculty at a Diverse University. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, downloads/publications/Fmentoring.pdf. 144 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 154. CHAPTER 11 COLLABORATION“LA P U I S S A N C E N E C O N S I S T E PA S À F R A P P E R F O R T O U S O U V E N T, MAIS À FRAPPER JUSTE. ” HONORÉ DE BALZAC One of the best ways to move your science into THE COLLABORATIVE EFFORT a higher league is to collaborate. International collaboration is important and will be the subject Twenty-first century science is often a collabora- of much of this chapter, but the basic benefits of tive effort. As a beginning investigator, you may being a good collaborator become apparent as want or need to work with scientists in other labs soon as you explore shared interests with the who can offer resources or technical expertise scientist at the next bench, down the hall, in to complement your own. Because a scientific another department, at another institute, or in a collaboration is a complex exchange, you will city that is an easy drive away. When someone’s need to sharpen your managerial and political clever work delights you, or another’s curious skills to be a successful collaborator. Whether you result seems in line with yours (or utterly con- are working with friends or with people who are tradicts it in an interesting way), or even when nearly (or completely) strangers, it is important someone working on a completely different kind that you and your collaborators share the same of problem has a technique you would like to apply understanding of what is to be done, who is to do to your own, you have fertile ground for potential it, how “things that come up” will be managed, collaboration. The scientific world is a very social how any unexpected benefits will be apportioned, one. Finding ways to be scientifically productive and how, when, and where credit will be shared. with people you enjoy is one of its great This chapter summarizes some of the questions pleasures. you should ask yourself before embarking on a col- laborative project and provides some guidelines to help ensure that your work and your interactions with valued colleagues proceed smoothly. The quote above: Balzac says that power is not in striking hard or often, but in striking well. COLLABORATION 145
  • 155. SHOULD YOU COLLABORATE? For researchers in developing countries, Collaboration is a major responsibility—one that collaboration is an important route to establish- ing an international track record, strengthening should not be taken on lightly. It will take time, laboratory capacity, through technology transfer effort, and the nurturing of relationships. Before ” and building human capacity. you start a collaboration, you should know for sure that you can see it through. It may seem awkward at first, but if you would Brian Eley, South Africa like to set up a collaboration, it is important that you nail down some details in an early conversation to make clear on both sides that you are actuallyTHE VARIETIES OF COLLABORATION planning to accomplish something together and not exchanging optimistic social pleasantries.Scientific collaborators are researchers who share Think of how often good friends will say “We mustan interest in the outcome of a project, not service get together sometime!” Unless they pause toproviders or customers. Sharing reagents or schedule a date or time, they often drift away untilmaterials that have been described in a publication chance again brings them together. It is betterdoes not in itself constitute collaboration. Scientists to be a bit awkward and ask for some particularsare expected to make published materials available than to misunderstand and find yourself waitingto others. Similarly, a service rendered by a scientist for your potential collaborator to follow through,in a core service facility within his or her own or worse, to find out years later that the otherinstitution—for example, the medical laboratory person, after a long period of waiting for you toscientist who regularly processes blood in the follow through, has concluded that you cannot behospital, or the scientist in charge of running an taken at your word.institution’s shared DNA sequencing capacity—isusually not considered a collaboration. Such core The larger the collaboration, the more complicatedservice facilities exist to perform specific tasks it may be to fulfill your obligations. Be sure youfor other laboratories. Without added intellectual have the time you will need to be a good collabo-contributions beyond what is normally required for rator, and that a given opportunity is right for you.their job, they will have done nothing special that Once you have signed on, you will be expectedwould make it reasonable for them to demand to follow through on your commitments, and yourcredit as a collaborator. Of course, scientists in scientific reputation will be at stake.such facilities may interact with you in ways that If someone simply wants your technical expertiseare truly collaborative, for example, working with or the opportunity to run his or her experimentsyou to invent a new technique or bringing to your on your equipment, he or she may not considerattention an unusual phenomenon that you then you a collaborator at all. The essential ingredientgo on to investigate together. of collaboration is mutual interest in the researchCollaborations can vary greatly in scope, duration, outcome. If you have this interest, but the otherand degree of formality. A limited collaboration party assumes that you do not, you may not bemight entail only a series of consultations about treated as a collaborator, but rather as a servicea technique or the provision of samples to be provider. This may be acceptable, as long as youtested. At the other extreme, several scientists understand what you are getting into.or laboratories might join together to establish apermanent consortium or center for the pursuitof a particular line of research. Depending on itscomplexity, a collaboration can be launched by aninformal agreement sealed with a handshake or anemail, or may involve complex negotiations and alegally binding document. 146 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 156. Can I afford the time? How much will it take away Scientists working in resource-constrained from my other responsibilities? Is the project close environments should not let the temptation enough to my central interests to warrant the of allocating large budgets for their laboratory necessary time expenditure? get them into committing to doing things that Is this person someone with whom I want to are not doable. In collaborative grants, only propose activities that you can independently collaborate? What is his or her track record? Can ” carry out as a senior investigator. someone I trust tell me whether this potential collaborator is honest and reliable? Are our professional and scientific interests Moses Bockarie, Papua New Guinea compatible? Does what each of us has to lose if things go wrong seem comparable? Will this person be accessible to me and consis-ASSESSING A COLLABORATIVE tently interested in the project?OPPORTUNITY If I will collaborate with a larger group, will thereWhether you are approached by another scientist be a reliable “point person” on my collaborator’sto collaborate, or are thinking of approaching end who is responsible for handling day-to-daysomeone to collaborate with you, here are some issues and small matters?questions you should ask yourself before embark- Can I rule out potential conflicts, either personal oring on the project: institutional? For example, it is often a bad idea to What exactly is being asked of me? collaborate with a rival of the person who signs your paycheck, and it may be a bad idea to collaborate Do I need this collaboration to move my own work with someone who has a major collaboration with forward? Is there a missing piece—a technique or an institution that is openly hostile to your own. resource—that I must have, and which this other person can provide? There can be other practical challenges to Even if collaboration is not strictly necessary to my collaborating with people who are not close by, current work, will interacting with the proposed and you should also take some time to consider collaborators enable me to contribute something these very frankly. Whether you are considering significant to science and perhaps generate new collaborating with someone overseas, someone opportunities? who is relatively near you but beyond easy travel distance, or someone in a place where border Do I really have the expertise or other resources crossings are difficult, finding yourselves unable being sought by the other collaborator? If not, to get together or communicate can be a very big are there funding sources available through this problem for healthy collaborations. A less famous collaboration that will allow me to get those things? person who will give you his attention is a better Can I afford to be involved? Will my potential collaborator than a more famous one who will not. partner bring resources (including funding) that Ask yourself these questions: will make my group’s investment in the project How much travel will be required? What will be possible? the costs of each trip in terms of transportation Can this collaboration be conducted efficiently, costs, tariffs on materials that must be moved given such factors as distance, restrictions imposed between sites, accommodations, and time away by my institution, and, in the case of international from the lab? Are there sources of funding to sup- collaborations, cultural differences or possible legal port travel? and political complications? Is a visa required for travel? If so, how difficult is Is there funding for the work envisioned? If not, the process of visa application and how long does can it be obtained? it usually take a visa to come through? COLLABORATION 147
  • 157. Is travel safe and convenient, or will each trip and you may grow to resent them for regarding involve logistical headaches and considerable you as a door! If you are in a large institute with uncertainty? good access to reagents and equipment and your collaboration is with a very small, under-funded How good are the channels of communication? facility, you may grow to resent your partners for Will you be able to talk by phone (or internet phone) taking liberties with your generosity and taking easily? Is email between you quick and reliable? more of your resources than they need. Being Do I know the language of my potential collabo- aware of these imbalances and trying to maintain rators? Do they know mine? Will we be able to your own sense of good will can be very useful in communicate effectively both about science and keeping things running smoothly. about the more subtle human factors that will be involved in a good collaboration—for example, Two key ingredients should be in place at the knowing when to “push” and when to let the outset of a long, stable collaboration: a shared other person have some time to respond? understanding of potential funding so that your partnership can survive the perhaps inevitable ups Will scientific papers be published in a language and downs in support, and at least one individual in which I am not fluent? If so, how can I vouch in the other lab who is as committed to the for the translation? How can I be sure my group is project as you are and is willing to help push past involved properly in the writing and in authorship roadblocks that may arise. credit? Do my collaborator and I start with the same assumptions about credit, publishing, and Before making a decision about a collaboration, authorship? consider all factors. A good collaboration can take your research in a completely unexpectedAlthough physical and technical factors are direction. A bad one can waste your energy andimportant, it is the human dimension that most demoralize you.often makes or breaks a collaboration. Beespecially sensitive to emotions that may be inplay under the surface, especially if there is an SETTING UP Aimbalance of resources (e.g., money, reagents, oraccess to required sites or populations) brought COLLABORATIONinto the collaboration by each partner. For example, Someone may eventually ask you to collaborate,if your collaborators depend on you for access to but if you are a beginning investigator, it is morea population group, your partners may grow to likely that you will need to approach a potentialresent you for how you control this “doorway,” collaborator yourself. A collaboration, like many QUESTION q&a If a powerful person asks me to collaborate but the proposed partnership does not suit me, how do I politely decline? ANSWER Explain that you do not have the resources at the moment to enter a collaborative project. Offer instead to provide input and suggestions into the research and, if possible, suggest other people with similar expertise who may be good collaborators. 148 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 158. other types of interpersonal relationships, has no with whom you want to work. If that happens,fixed rules. However, there are some guidelines following up with a paper letter may encourageyou can follow to ensure that the collaboration your potential collaborator to respond. Rememberstarts off on the right foot and proceeds smoothly to include your email address in any paper letters(see “Personal Qualities of a Good Collaborator,” you may 153). Some countries have become so associated with dishonest money-raising scams that it mayAPPROACHING A be difficult to get people to read any email orPOTENTIAL COLLABORATOR paper notes coming from them. If you are in one of those places, you can enhance your note’sOnce you have identified a potential collaborator chances of being read if you get to the pointand decided that you want to go forward, develop quickly. A letter, printed on university letterhead,an outline of your proposal for the joint project. that begins…Define in detail how you think you can comple-ment each other’s efforts. Dear Dr. Jones,Send an Email. Make your initial contact with an Your recent papers on the evolution of virulenceinquiry designed to whet the other person’s appe- in African trypanosomes suggest an interestingtite. Send a short email describing your research parallel with a phenomenon I have observed in myin general terms and asking for the opportunity laboratory’s work on seasonal occurrences offor a conversation. Do not call on the telephone leishmaniasis.first—you do not want to put the person on the …is more likely to be read than one that beginsspot, and you do want to give him or her a chance with elaborate flattery, or comes in a handwrittento find out more about you through personal envelope, or is typed on lightweight airmail paper.contacts or your scientific publications. It is a goodidea to use an informative email subject header, Be Informed. To make your pitch effective, youfor example Understanding drug resistance in need to be familiar with your potential collaborator’svivax malaria, rather than an empty subject line work. Be sure to read the lab’s published papers.or one that could be mistaken for a scam, such as You will also need to have a clear idea of what youHelp a young professor. want to do and the respective role each of you will play.Many people have set up their spam filters todelete mail coming from and other Your email should lead to telephone conversations.popular free web mail services. These filters rarely After that, a trip to your collaborator’s lab for agive you any notice that your message has not face-to-face meeting is often worthwhile, and yougone to the intended reader. should both look for opportunities to get together.In your email, focus on the big picture and conveyyour enthusiasm. You must convince your poten- THE COLLABORATION AGREEMENTtial collaborator that: Using an Informal Agreement. An exchange of You have the expertise you claim. emails is usually sufficient to get a project under way. Before you actually start the work, however, You believe that he or she is the best possible it is best to develop and agree on a detailed writ- collaborator for the project at hand. ten summary of your joint research plan. The plan Both of you stand to benefit from the collaboration. should spell out: The whole is indeed greater than the sum of the The purpose of the collaboration. parts. The scope of work.Sometimes people will not acknowledge unwanted How, when, and in what format raw data willemails, so you may not hear back from a researcher be shared. COLLABORATION 149
  • 159. The expected contribution of each collaborator. Collaborations that involve provision of materials such as biological samples such as DNA, microbial Financial responsibilities of each collaborator. isolates, genetically modified organisms or reagents Milestones. developed by you or your research team may include a “Materials Transfer Agreement.” This Reporting obligations to funders or other document is to be signed by the recipient, indicat- stakeholders. ing the material provided, the purpose for which Expectations about authorship. the material will be used, the conditions under which the material was provided and instructions How and when papers will be written. for acknowledgement of the contribution andAn explicit plan offers several advantages. It restriction of distribution to others.prevents misunderstandings and it helps keep If your institution does not have an office thatthe project on track. Furthermore, if you expect helps make this kind of agreement, you shouldto apply together for funding for the project, this make sure you have the power to promise theplan can be expanded into a grant proposal. In a things you have promised, or have someonecollaboration between two academic labs, the at your institution who does have the power tocollaboration agreement can simply be emailed promise get involved. In a large institution, thisback and forth until both parties are satisfied. may be a technology transfer office, and their staffObtaining signatures could seem overly formal, may also arrange for legal review by the institu-but it is very important that on both sides all tion’s attorneys. In an institution without such ankey participants explicitly signal that you have office, you should find people with appropriateconcluded these negotiations and have reached authority to review and sign the proposed contract.a clear agreement. Look for other researchers who have made suchUsing a Formal Agreement. A formal, legally agreements, and discuss the restrictions withbinding written agreement is probably necessary legally trained people in your own country. Itif the collaboration involves a commercial entity may be that there are not yet laws within yoursuch as a pharmaceutical company, or if you are country related to this kind of agreement, butworking toward a commercial application in which someone with legal training can at least help alerta patent is an expected outcome (Chapter 12 will you to language in the proposed documents thatdiscuss patents). For collaborations that do not seems to commit you to more than you wouldinvolve a commercial entity, a general Letter of like. Negotiations are expected in these kinds ofAgreement or Letter of Intent spelling out the agreements—the most important thing is thatinterest in collaboration between institutions can you know what rights you may be signing away,provide a framework for a range of collaborative and that you do not release more of your (or youractivities. Written and agreed-upon work plans for institution’s, or your country’s) rights than youspecific activities or projects developed together mean to or have the authority to.can then provide the explicit terms of the col- Make sure that such documents spell out the timelaboration. Even if it is not intended to be a legally period of the collaboration or provide a mechanismbinding document, you and your collaborator by which you can terminate your involvement.will want to consult with appropriate offices atyour respective institutions to help you draft this Be aware that if your collaborator has financialagreement. It can be very useful to have someone support from a company for his or her share ofwho has not been part of your discussions read the work, that funding agreement may containwhat you have written down, because you may be restrictions that apply to the collaborative accustomed to your own assumptions that you For example, the company may have the right towill have neglected to write them down. delay publication and to license the results of the collaboration. If the collaboration is an important 150 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 160. THE INGREDIENTS Learn how to propose and organize collaborative projects with researchers from both developed OF A SUCCESSFUL and developing countries. Collaborative projects COLLABORATION have the advantage of: Once your agreement is in place and your expec- tations are clear, you and your collaborator can of funding, focus on keeping your lines of communication open and maintaining attitudes of mutual consideration by spreading the fixed costs across and respect. participants, and KEEPING THE LINES funding agencies, given that comparative OF COMMUNICATION OPEN projects generate more information than ” single-country projects. An open, trusting relationship is essential if you want to be able to discuss problems candidly and give and receive critical feedback. In a good Gilbert Brenes Comacho, Costa Rica collaboration, participants stay in close touch and are accessible to one another. Make it a practice to return your collaborator’s calls and emails asone for your laboratory, be sure to ask in advance quickly as you can, even if only to set a morewhether your collaborator will use company fund- convenient time for a conversation. Make fulfillinging for his or her work on your joint project. If so, your promises to collaborators a significant can ask your institution’s technology transfer Having a student from one lab go spend time inoffice or a person knowledgeable in law and the other may help build connections between thecontracts to help you determine whether there are two research groups and get the work flowing.restrictions that apply to your share of the work. When you are involved in a high-stakes collabora-It may be possible to negotiate an agreement tion, you may need to consider what you will dothat limits the effect your collaborator’s funding with your time if your collaborative work andarrangements have on you (see chapter 12 on your regular responsibilities make simultaneousintellectual property for more information about demands. If you put off your collaborators’ inter-company-sponsored research). ests, you may be seen as unreliable, unserious,Someone above you at your institution may try or not good at following through. If you put offto abuse the potential collaboration by pressuring local issues, though, you may be seen as self-your collaborator to provide resources or make absorbed, untrue to your roots, or as a carelesspayments beyond what is needed to do the project, power-seeker. Whichever way you divide youror may even try to block your collaboration in favor energies, there are risks. Being direct and honestof pushing you to work with a different researcher. about what is delaying you, why it must beYou do not want to undermine your position at attended to first, and how you plan to fulfill youryour institution, so proceed carefully. It may be obligations is often the best way to negotiatevery useful to be open with trusted collaborators this difficult balance. If you are unable to offerabout the source of the delay. “Office politics” explanations, however, delegating some part ofand over-reaching administrators exist all over the the work to a reliable helper may help you getworld, and understanding the situation may help through an immediate time crunch. But be sure tokeep your potential collaborator from giving up in follow up with personal attention, whether to yourfrustration. local colleagues or those at other sites, as soon as you get a chance. COLLABORATION 151
  • 161. Meetings. Set up systems to ensure that regularcommunication takes place. A fixed schedule of In simple terms, the collaboration must helpface-to-face meetings or conference calls or times your scientific career and not be a burden. Itwhen you will be available by email can be very is better for starting scientist to publish threeuseful for staying on track. Also consider setting JBC papers as last (corresponding) author thanup occasional videoconferences if your institution ten papers in Science, Nature or Cell, being in ”and your collaborator’s have that capability and all of them the fifth of the ten authors.enough internet bandwidth. No matter what typeof interaction you choose, plan the matters to Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentinabe covered ahead of time. Send out agendas byemail, take notes during the discussions, andsend out email summaries of the meetings to allparticipants afterwards. Include in the summaries developed along the way will be shared. As you“action items” for each collaborator. It is not a lot advance your own career, it becomes more impor-of work to follow up in these small ways, and it tant not only to look out for your own authorshipwill help prevent misunderstandings later. interests, but to also bear in mind the interests of the people you will train in your laboratory.Keeping Up. Once the project is underway, staywith it. Do not be the “rate-limiting step” that Trainees—graduate students and postdocs—oftenholds things up. When unavoidable conflicts feel possessive of work they have been involvedemerge and you cannot meet a deadline, let that in, and may not see their role in proper perspective.fact be known right away so that the deadline can Part of your role in training them is to keep thembe reset. Remember that obstacles and interrup- from over-reaching or under-reaching when ittions come up for everyone. Do not hide from your comes to getting credit for their work. Often thecollaborators if your work goes off track, and do person who writes the first draft of a paper willnot be quick to abandon a partnership if circum- become firmly attached to the idea that the paperstances change and you have trouble keeping up is “his.” This can create hard feelings and misun-with the originally intended pace of the work. Try derstandings, especially in cases where a studentto negotiate a new strategy with your partners for with especially good writing skills helpfullyaccomplishing the collaboration’s goals, and look becomes involved in writing up another student’sfor better ways to get the planned work done, data. There are cases where a writer who synthe-even if the time frame or scope of the work must sizes others’ work deserves credit for a significantbe changed. intellectual contribution, but it is generally out of bounds to claim priority for the writer over the researcher who drove the intellectual developmentDEALING WITH AUTHORSHIP of the data.AND INTELLECTUAL You and other senior people involved in the collab-PROPERTY ISSUES oration should openly discuss the practical needs of all of the trainees involved in the work, acrossExpectations for Authorship. Because credit for all of the involved laboratories. Graduate studentsyour work, expressed as authorship of publications, and postdocs need first author papers, and asis crucial to your scientific career, you need to good trainers you and your colleagues should helppay attention to how credit will be distributed in them work toward publication, progress on theira collaboration. It is best to discuss expectations degrees, and scientific independence, not justfor authorship before a collaboration begins, toward achieving the project’s goals.including who will be first author and last author(or other author positions that may indicate relative This is especially important for any trainees inimportance in some fields) on major publications your laboratory whose career progress dependsand how authorship and ownership of new work on producing work that gives them clearly high 152 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 162. priority among a paper’s authors. However, agree Who will take responsibility for and incur theto revisit authorship as publication nears. The expense of filing joint patent applications?relative contributions of different participants often Who will maintain the patents once received?changes from what was originally envisioned.Once you have a sense of whether the data from See chapter 12 for more information about theyour experiments can be published, discuss plans patent process, including the effect disclosuresfor publication immediately; do not wait until a can have on the ability to obtain patent rights.manuscript draft is prepared.Pursuing Patents. If patents are sought, applica-tions should be filed before the work is presentedpublicly or published; otherwise, rights will be lost. Personal QualitiesDo not jeopardize your own or the other party’s of a Good Collaboratorintellectual property rights by disclosing yourresults prematurely. FairnessIf your collaboration produces patentable discover- Be sure to give credit where it is due.ies, you will undoubtedly need to deal with the Honestylegal concept of “joint intellectual property.” Disclose anything that might affectJoint intellectual property is that created jointly by someone’s decision to collaborate.collaborating researchers. Generally, you will have Once the collaboration is underway, beto assign your ownership in intellectual property willing to “cut through the nonsense”to your institution or employer, and your collabora- and offer constructive criticism.tor must do the same at his or her institution. Be clear and open about other relation-Each party in the collaboration will retain its own ships, which may include some with“background” intellectual property, that is, the people who are in conflict with oneintellectual property it owned before undertaking another.the project. Each party will also retain the intel- Effortlectual property rights to discoveries created solely Put your full effort into the its own researchers in the course of the project. Carry your fair share of the labor andThe collaborators’ institutions may file a joint pat- financial outlays.ent application that names inventors from both Opennessinstitutions, and the institutions will hold the Stay in touch with your collaboratorpatent jointly. Often, the institutions will need to throughout the project, especiallyreach an agreement on management and licensing when there are problems or delays.of the intellectual property, so that any royalties Try to resolve problems with yourcan be shared according to an agreed-upon formula. collaborator directly.If you think a joint patent application is a likely Reliabilityoutcome of your collaboration, ask yourself these Deliver what you have promised,questions before you begin the collaboration: on time. What aspects of the proposed project are so Respect interactive that any potential discoveries will be Appreciate your collaborator’s owned jointly? contributions. Never assume that your contributions What aspects of shared work are the property are more important than those of your of one laboratory? collaborator. When and how will you discuss patents and publications with workers in your laboratories? COLLABORATION 153
  • 163. SPECIAL CHALLENGES The larger the collaborator’s lab and the more complex the collaboration, the harder it will be toFOR THE BEGINNING negotiate first or last authorship. Smaller projectsINVESTIGATOR may offer a better chance of getting credit.In the early stages of your career, collaboration If you have special technical expertise or access tocan present particular challenges. You are under a limited resource that is in demand, you may bepressure to get your own research program up inundated by requests to collaborate from nearbyand running. You cannot afford to let your advance- researchers and people around the world. Do notment be impeded by collaborations that do not allow your time to become so fragmented thatyield good results and appropriate credit. You need your central research projects are neglected. Learnto keep the following facts of scientific life firmly to say no gracefully and, if necessary, ask thosein mind as you decide about specific collaborations: above you to offer you some protection for your time. Even if you are the head of the institute, it If you collaborate with established, well-known can be easier to turn things down by saying “I am scientists, researchers not familiar with your work sorry, the Minister of Health has asked me to may undervalue your role in the effort and view reserve my time for another project” than by saying you as being under the wing of your more famous “I do not have time to work with you.” colleague, rather than as an emerging scientific force in your own right. People may assume that you played a minor role, even if you are first author on a paper. There are benefits and drawbacks to I would classify collaborations in two groups: this—if others see you as your colleague’s protégé, those established with scientists in the North they may open doors for you. On the other hand, (well-known or not-so-well-known scientists) they may conclude you are subservient and never and those established with scientists in your think to open doors for you! Understanding how own country or region or other scientifically the two sides of the coin may be seen, especially lagging regions. In the first case, one has to be by colleagues at your own institution, is important. very careful in order to make clear to your local Collaborating with someone close to your own colleagues and evaluators that it is a real col- career level avoids this problem, but your local laboration. For example, if your name is diluted colleagues may not view your collaboration as in the middle of the author’s list of the publica- important compared to a collaboration with some- tions resulting from the collaboration, the local one more famous. evaluator will certainly realize that your role is completely secondary. If you do collaborate with established scientists or with researchers involved in your own training, I would tend to establish collaborations with “big shots” in the North only if I am really inter- make sure you arrange the collaboration so that ested in the subject, and if I can contribute with the relative contributions of each scientist are original ideas and work that guarantee that I will made clear in publications and other communica- be the corresponding author of at least 50% of tions. It will not always be the case that a collabo- the papers resulting from the collaboration. On rator will be interested in advancing your career, the other hand, I can establish collaborations especially your career at home. If you collaborate with people in the North on subjects that are with a senior scientist and he does not propose not my main subject, that will not end in the that you speak for the team at international meet- only publications I will have in the period, whose ings or take the lead on some publications, for efforts and work do not put at risk the success example, you should not be shy about pressing for of the main subject in my group. In that case I these opportunities, which are important to moving would not mind appearing in the middle of the your career forward and gaining international author’s list. In simple terms, the collaboration visibility for you. must help your scientific career and not to be a ” burden. Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentina 154 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 164. If you engage in multiple collaborations, the prob- ability increases that you will find yourself with a WHEN A COLLABORATION conflict of interest at some point in your career. IS NOT WORKING Especially in these early years, it is better to keep Collaborations can fail for various reasons. things simple so that you know all of the actors Possible scenarios include: and can identify potential conflicts. Often people or institutions in conflict with one another may One party loses interest or develops other priorities, approach you to collaborate. Both are surely aware and intentionally or inadvertently puts the project that your work is of interest to the other. Again, on the back burner. There is no intent to renege, proceed carefully and honestly. Keep in mind that but deadlines are allowed to slip. just as you can have friends who do not get along, Illness or family problems hinder someone’s you can also have collaborators whose interests progress. collide. Just think carefully before getting between them. Key personnel move on or become uninvolved. Scientific results are not forthcoming, and theWHEN YOUR TRAINEES COLLABORATE project simply stalls.Your graduate students and postdocs need to Honest disagreements arise about the plan,learn to collaborate, as well. You can start them finances, or by assigning them joint projects within your One or both parties behave badly (e.g., they do notlab and by guiding them in establishing their honor some aspect of the agreement, steal credit,expectations of each other and in monitoring the or disparage the other collaborator to others).fulfillment of promises. However, you should beprepared to referee, especially when it is neces- Geopolitics throws up new roadblocks, or existingsary to contain the ambitions of inappropriately roadblocks prove more problematic than anticipated.aggressive members of your group. When such situations arise, you will have toIt is quite another matter when your students and decide how to protect yourself. The worst thingpostdocs approach scientists outside your lab or you can do is to allow a bad situation to fester. Ifare themselves approached as potential collabor- you decide that your colleague is failing to fulfillators. They may have no idea of the politics involved the original agreements, get on the phone andor the extent of the commitments they are making. have a straightforward discussion. Phoning orEncourage your trainees to look broadly for help meeting face to face is better than emailing inand resources, but insist on your prerogative to such cases, since it is very easy to misread theapprove all trainees’ outside commitments in tone of an email, especially if one correspondentadvance. is expecting a fight and the other does not realize that anything is wrong at all. It is worth your while to try to fix a situation Some strong collaborators may use a junior that looks like it could derail your collaboration, scientist to involve your institute in a collabora- especially if you have invested significant time tion and get them to sign a Memorandum Of and resources in the project. If, however, the Understanding (MOU). It is thus important to other party has lost all interest or you really do impress upon junior scientists that they need not get along, the best thing might be to back to make sure that this MOU benefits both out. Although you may be tempted to let your collaborators in terms of capacity strengthening colleagues know about the failure, remember that (human and institutional), funding, authorship such a retaliation can harm your own reputation ” and other aspects of the collaboration. as much as that of your collaborator. Do not burn bridges, and especially if you are just beginning your career. Do what you can to leave your former Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe collaborator thinking well of you—he or she may COLLABORATION 155
  • 165. be an important connection to future collaborators. RESOURCESIt is better to leave a collaboration with all partiesthinking that it was the situation—not the people Onlineinvolved—that was “not right.” Adams, Michael J. “Mutual Benefit: Building a Successful Collaboration.” (October 6, 2000),If a collaboration does not succeed, try not to discouraged. Although collaborations previous_issues/articles/0630/mutual_benefit_building_a_can be a lot of work and at times frustrating, you successful_collaboration.will gain much from working with others. Your Dee, Phil. “Yours Transferably: Going Global 2—Makingresearch can take unexpected turns and expand Contact.” (February 16, 2001),into new and exciting areas. You will form profes- relationships with scientists outside your previous_issues/articles/0840/yours_transferably_going_department who may be willing to write letters global_2_making_contact.of recommendation when it is time to apply for De Pass, Anthony. “Underrepresented Minorities intenure. Your collaborators can help increase your Science: Collaborations -- Critical to Research Successvisibility by inviting you to give seminars at their at Minority Institutions.” (March 2,institutes, and they might send graduate students 2001), postdocs to work in your lab. development/previous_issues/articles/0840/ underrepresented_minorities_in_science_collaborations_ critical_to_research_success_at_minority_institutions. 156 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  • 166. CHAPTER 12 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY“LAS GRANDES IDEAS SON AQUELLAS DE LAS QUE LO ÚNICO QUE NOS SORPRENDE ES QUE NO SE NOS HAYAN OCURRIDO ANTES. ” NOEL CLARASÓ SERRAT UNDERSTANDING Because discovering and developing new things is more difficult and expensive than copying INTELLECTUAL others’ work, profit and the right to determine PROPERTY RIGHTS how inventions are used are major driving forces behind commercialization of ideas and products Intellectual property rights protect the interests of created by scientists. Without protection, imitators creators by giving them property rights over their can quickly erode the profit available to the inventor, creations, whether those creations are the result and investors will be discouraged from spending of a Eureka! moment in the bath, the traditional the money needed for more research and knowledge of a community, or the collective development. efforts of hundreds of scientists in a university, government or company. A patent is a right given to inventors of intellectual property, allowing them to protect their owner- Intellectual property (IP) rights include patents ship of an invention by excluding other people, and copyrights (which protect authored works, companies, governments, etc., from commercially including scientific papers, novels, music, art, and exploiting (making, using or selling) their innova- other things), trade secrets (things only the maker tion for a set period of time, usually 20 years, of a product knows—information not available to within the country where the patent is granted. the public), trademarks and brands (unique identi- Inventions are, in essence, ideas. The protection fiers of products and services), industrial design of an invention under patent law does not require (the visual designs of objects with aesthetic or that it be a physical thing. But it is customary to commercial value), and geographical indication distinguish between inventions that are products (marking products with their place of origin, for and those that are processes. The creation of a example, “Made in Brazil”). new cell line is an example of a product invention. The quote above: Serrat says that big ideas are the ones where the only thing that surprises us about them is that no one has thought of them before. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 157
  • 167. The invention of a new method or process ofmaking the cell line is a process invention. It is also extremely important to know the policies governing intellectual, biological and cul-Patents are