RCR - Lab Management -  
About ORI-FAQ-Media-
- About ORI-FAQ-Media-
+ About ORI-FAQ-Media-
Frequently Asked Questions

General Laboratory Safety

Mentor/Trainee Relationships

  • What is mentor?

    There is no specific, rigid definition of a mentor. In general, whenever an experienced researcher (mentor) enters a professional relationship to help and assist a less experienced investigator there is a mentor/trainee relationship. A researcher who has graduate students, postdocs, and or lab technicians reporting to her/him is a mentor to those individuals. In other cases a more senior investigator (generally experience and age) may inter into a more “formalized” mentoring relationship with a less experienced (usually younger) researcher. Implicit in all of these situations is the assumption that the mentor will impart knowledge, experience, advice, and training to help foster and encourage the careers and research of the trainee.
  • Why enter into a mentor/trainee relationship?

    Mentor/trainee relationships are beneficial to both parties. Trainees gain valuable nurturing and career assistance. The mentor is able to collaborate with younger colleagues and benefit from the energy and fresh ideas the trainee brings as well as derive personnel satisfaction from assisting the careers of less experienced researchers.
  • Why do mentor/trainee relationships sometimes breakdown?

    As in any interpersonal relations the compatibility of the two individuals is extremely important. Accurate and open communication is key to the continuing success of the arrangement. When there are breakdowns in the situation it is generally because one (or both) parties are not getting what they expected from the arrangement. For this reason it is a good idea to have open and honest discussions regarding what each party is anticipated (expected) to bring to the relationship and what they anticipate (expect) to receive. If the expectations of either party are not met the relationship will suffer.
  • Can a mentor treat all trainees the same?

    No. Mentors should be well aware (and at least at an unconscious, intuitive level probably are already aware) that different trainees have different needs and levels of experience. Thus, a mentor should take time to objectively think about the level of the trainee’s experience, where is more training needed, what knowledge or experience is needed for the trainee, and what is the appropriate level of the mentoring. The mentor will need to tailor the material to each individual and also to different types of trainees (i.e. graduate students, postdocs, lab technicians, younger/less experienced collaborators/trainees from outside your lab in your institution and from other institutions).
  • Are there any areas or reasons for mentors to treat all trainees the same?

    Yes. Mentors must treat all trainees equally with respect to level of supervision and effort (by the mentor) so as not to discriminate against any race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The research environment must not put anyone at a disadvantage because of who they are. Mentors should also treat all trainees with the same level of professional practice with respect and courtesy. Mentors must lead by example and have an obligation to maintain an appropriate research environment for all trainees.

Writing Skills

Laboratory Data Management

  • Who owns the data generated in my laboratory?

    In general research institutions own the data collected with the funds given to the institution. Funds for research are usually awarded to the institution, not individual researchers. As the signatory to receive the funds institutions have contractual and legal obligations regarding the funds awarded to the university.
  • Why is a bound, paginated laboratory notebook important?

    For written or printed records incorporation into a bound, paginated notebook is a great way to help document the authenticity of data collected. When laboratory personnel are in the habit of using such a notebook they will have an accurate and complete record of activities accomplished in the lab. Such a notebook is only as good as the process used to record the data: entries should be consecutive, signed, and dated; as much detail as possible should be recorded; entries should be in ink and no pages should be removed.
  • What about electronic data?

    Electronic records can and should be kept. However, it can be more difficult to verify the authenticity of electronic records. It is harder to prove that the records have not been tampered with (additions, deletions, or other changes) after original collection. It is probably best to use electronic records in conjunction with a bound laboratory notebook. Important or significant results would be protected by printing them out, signing, and dating.
  • When should I share data?

    Research and knowledge progress when data and results are shared and widely disseminated. However, this does not mean that all preliminary data should be shared. In general data and results should be checked and verified prior to any release. It is generally an acceptable practice to keep data confidential until publication. Once published there is an expectation that all data and details about the experiments should be freely available for the experiments to be verified and duplicated. There may be some contractual obligations that preclude the sharing of data of which the researcher must be knowledgeable.
  • Are there any additional requirements regarding the collection of data?

    There are many examples where the collection of data would require additional review and/or approval. Such as data collected from: humans (IRB review and approval), animals (IACUC review and approval), certain hazardous or biological materials (IBC and/or EH&S review and approval), and copyrighted or patented information (a license or approval may be necessary).

Administrative and Fiscal Management