Lab culture, mentorship and supervision
I expect you to:
- Communicate openly and honestly.
- Treat your colleagues, participants and lab equipment with respect.
- Be a team player and good academic citizen: help others, collaborate and share ideas.
- Be present in the lab during regular hours, at least a few days a week (for postdocs and PhD students). I generally encourage you to work during regular office hours, and to be present for departmental events to benefit from the social and scientific interactions. However, apart from times of e.g. data collection or deadlines, the flexibility of science is one of its main perks: take advantage of this, and find out what schedule works best for you.
- If I occasionally email you at unusual times, do not feel obliged to read or respond immediately; email is an asynchronous medium, so set your own boundaries.
- Inform Anne about longer absences (sickness, vacation, conferences, etc).
- Take ownership of your research project. You will soon be the expert on the topic!
- I’m here to guide and advise you, not to be your teacher. In a course, your goal may be to get a good grade for an assignment and mine is to assess your work; a research project is a different game where we’re both learning and I’m happy to be shown wrong.
- Know the limits of your knowledge and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Admit when you are wrong, or made a mistake; be honest with yourself, and with your peers and colleagues.
- Examine your assumptions and expect to be wrong. A lot. Ask someone to be your ‘code buddy’ and replicate your figures, from the data, from scratch.
Knowing how long to keep trying something, and when to ask for help, is a tremendously useful skill. A useful guideline: if you know what next steps to take (keywords to Google, instructions to follow, control analyses to run) then take them first. If you can no longer identify how to move forward, don’t waste time being stuck and ask for help or advice.
- To ask good questions (of me, or anyone else); indicate what you’ve tried so far, what your current best answer is, and what specific guidance you need.
- Take a proactive role in your career development.
- Take the time to explore your interests, to try things out, and to look widely at careers that may suit you. Ashley Juavinett’s book is a great start.
- Let me know if you want to attend a conference, apply for a (travel) grant, or give a talk.
- Organize your work, and practice good project and time management.
- When we meet, take notes and especially write down the specific action items we’ve agreed on. Not only does this help structure your work, it can also serve as a great reminder for when I inevitably contradict my past self.
- Must-read: Allen D (2001) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Penguin.
- Stick to a consistent and clear organisation scheme for your data (e.g. this one); keep your code version controlled on GitHub; comment your analysis workflows; organize code reviews; learn about best practices in software development. Your future self will thank you.
I aspire and promise to:
- Support you in your research and career.
- I will continually assess my own practices as a mentor and supervisor, and improve my own practices to help you flourish as a scientist and person.
- You can make use of the Cognitive Psychology Unit’s mentoring scheme (ask Sander Nieuwenhuis).
- The university encourages a yearly ‘functioneringsgesprek’ (see this form).
- Respond to questions and give feedback in a timely manner.
- I aim to respond to emails in a few days, or at most a week. If something is urgent (e.g. a problem with data collection, a sudden deadline for a grant application) I will usually respond more quickly. For really urgent or out-of-hours matters, call me.
- If you want feedback on your work, a letter of reference, or other input from me, please give me a heads-up a few weeks in advance (e.g. as soon as you know that you’re applying for something, or when you start writing a draft). I can then block off time to go over your work and give feedback quickly. Note that if you then can’t meet this deadline, it may go to the bottom of my priority list and I may be less inclined to prioritize this in the future. So plan ahead, and allow yourself (and me) some buffers.
- Create a fun and supportive learning environment.
- Peer review can be tough and unpredictable, so we will celebrate papers when they are submitted and posted as a preprint.
- Implement best practices for
Mentoring up - resources
- Zerzan JT, Hess R, Schur E, Phillips RS, Rigotti N (2009) Making the Most of Mentors: A Guide for Mentees. Academic Medicine 84:140. link
- Handout from Niv & Murray’s mentoring course
- Hour-long Growing Up in Science session about mentoring up (link, search for ‘mentoring up’).
Please join the weekly CogPsy meeting and weekly lab meeting (ask Anne for access to lab calendar), and feel free to suggest topics/papers.
For Bachelor/Master student projects, I normally start with meetings on demand: when you either get stuck or have something to show me (one of these should happen every few weeks), book a meeting through Calendly and send me a short description beforehand.
For longer projects (PhD/postdoc), we’ll start with regular meetings (e.g. once a week, once every two weeks). Talk to me and find out what works for you.
Before our meetings, fill out this template to help us structure our discussion. Afterwards, email the action points we agreed on. Most meetings shouldn’t be longer than 45 minutes to an hour; but of course if we need more time/relaxed atmosphere, let me know.
With each lab member who’s here for more than a few months, we’ll draft a mentoring agreement that is evaluated at least every year.