6 responses to “Research Group Dynamics”

  1. Cherish The Scientist

    My MS advisor did something similar with the group, and I found it very worthwhile. That was my first formal introduction to LaTeX, and it gave me an excuse to chat with my fellow groupmates. (Some of us were only there part-time, so there wasn’t as much overlap and exposure as in other groups.) So, a big thumbs up on the group meetings.

  2. gasstationwithoutpumps

    A lot depends on the department culture and curriculum. In my department, all students get LaTeX, BibTeX, and advanced library search skills in a required “how to be a grad student” course, so duplicating those things in lab groups is not needed (which is just as well, since half our faculty are incompetent in those skills). But there are skills that are unique to individual labs (sometimes specific database or machine-learning techniques, sometimes wet-lab skills). These are generally done in lab groups, often by having one student tasked to present a tutorial to the rest. For a group of 5 students, once a week meetings with the group is probably enough. If you alternate between research update from one student and journal-club or tutorial presentation, then each student will give a presentation about every 5 weeks, alternating between their own work and someone else’s. That is a reasonable rate for presentation practice—more often would be too much drain on their time and less often would be insufficient practice.

  3. GMP

    I agree that once a week is probably enough for a group meeting. Do you have individual ones? I think these are important, some students need 1-on-1 attention.

    Making a brand is important. I don’t think an acronym per se is that important though, people will recognize the group by your name and the work you do. I don’t think I remember any of collaborators’ group names. The brand gets tied to the PI.

  4. Miss MSE (@MissMSE)

    1) Project overlap is something sorely lacking in my current research group, and we clearly have issues because of this. 10 people, probably 15 projects among us.
    2) Having a coherent aim for the lab seems more important than having a catchy brand.
    3) We meet once a week, and generally have a business discussion (i.e., what needs ordered, is anything broken?) and one student presentation a week. We are an admittedly large group, so students present roughly twice a year, between travel cancelations of meetings and inserting practice talks for specific occasions, like conference and prelims. My advisor occasionally tries to teach us how to use Microsoft Word the way he wants, but we regularly run into the versioning issue, where he expects us to be using features that don’t exist in every version. 2 times a week would start feeling like a burden to me, but that may be due to the non-productiveness of most of our meetings.

    Also, an open door policy is nice, but it requires you to be in your office. In theory, we can stop by my PI’s office whenever. In practice, he is very rarely in there. We end up scheduling 1-on-1 meetings every few weeks