A Nature survey of 3,200 scientists reveals the tensions bubbling in research groups around the world.
How to grow a healthy lab
A healthy research environment is fundamental to good science. But it is an aspect that is rarely discussed. That’s partly because a lab’s ‘health’ is complex and difficult to assess — it is the product of a whole host of factors, such as inclusivity, communication, expectations and training. In this special issue, Nature explores how the working environment shapes research quality and morale — and what can be done to strengthen the research enterprise. From our survey of more than 3,000 researchers to first-hand experiences of how to nurture and improve research culture, we unpick the issues that can derail a lab and that can help make it the best place to work.
Academic leaders must audit departments for flaws and strengths, then tailor practices to build good behaviour, say C. K. Gunsalus and Aaron D. Robinson.
Ambiguity in expectations and evaluations harms progress, say Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton and colleagues.
Nature asked scientists to recommend one thing that institutional and laboratory leaders could do to make science more productive, rigorous and happy.
Lessons in leadership from outside the laboratory.
Universities should take responsibility to ensure professional science is performed in an environment that is supportive, productive and rigorous.
I was hired to ferret out errors and establish routines that promote rigorous research, says Catherine Winchester.
Linking a lab with others fosters crucial camaraderie, collaboration and productivity, writes Rebecca Heald.
It may not be sexy, but quality assurance is becoming a crucial part of lab life.
If young scientists plan to advance their careers before setting the system right, nothing will change, warns John Tregoning.
To drive discovery, scientists heading up research teams large and small need to learn how people operate, argue Charles E. Leiserson and Chuck McVinney.
Staffing a lab is fraught with complexity, so new team leaders can learn a lot from the experience of others.
Scientists starting labs say that they are under historically high pressure to publish, secure funding and earn permanent positions — leaving precious little time for actual research.
Managing laboratory members as well as a research strategy can be difficult for early-career principal investigators, but help is at hand.
The concept of research excellence is ubiquitous, but its meaning depends on context.
Funders should force universities to support laboratories’ research health.
Tie funding to verified good institutional practice, and robust science will shoot up the agenda, say C. Glenn Begley, Alastair M. Buchan and Ulrich Dirnagl.
It's time for academic institutions to take responsibility for protecting students and staff, says Laurel Issen.
Research institutions should explicitly seek job candidates who can be frankly self-critical of their work, says Jeffrey Flier.