Sep 252014

Lab meeting guidelines
(prepared by Jackie Floyd, 9/25/2014)


Presenting data & brainstorming
Practice giving and receiving feedback
Dissemination of information
Encourage habits of thoughtfulness and thoroughness
Promotion of critical thinking and communication skills

Each of these things can be accomplished by sharing an article with the lab, sharing data from a recent study, or practicing before an upcoming presentation. You may also lead a discussion on a variety of topics important to the field or to research in general.

Choose an article that is both interesting to you and likely to generate a conversation. Examples include articles that introduce novel methodology, new directions, or connections to other areas of interest, or challenges to previous knowledge. “Classic” articles may also be a good choice; potentially leading to knew ideas by reminding us of the motivations behind older ones.

In preparation to present your chosen article, be sure to thoroughly read it in advance, including the supplemental materials (and in some cases, particularly important references). Try to anticipate possible questions or concerns and be prepared to address them.

When the time comes to present the article, begin by stating the overall goal(s)—why is this significant? Discuss the study design and method of analysis.  Are the conclusions supported by the data? Was the question at hand answered? What are the limitations of the study? Advantages?

Do not rush through any part of this. Making sure that everyone understands what the goals are, and what motivated the present work, may take more time than you think. If you feel you will need to read parts of the paper to explain it, it may mean that you need organized notes to present it (since reading aloud the words that everyone can read tends to not be very helpful).


Nobody should show up to lab meeting to be passive. You should have read anything that is assigned, and have a few questions written down. At the minimum, if the paper was really confusing to you, you should try to identify the first thing that is confusing and come ready to ask. Your goal should be to always leave lab meeting understanding the paper a little better then when you came in, and in some cases, to help others understand it better.  This is still your responsibility even when you do not present yourself.


Presenting empirical results at lab meetings is good practice for conferences or departmental talks. Your lab mates can provide you with valuable feedback and help build your confidence before your actual talk.  Or, if you’re stalled in the development of an idea, your lab mates can serve as fresh eyes to help you see what you’re missing. For an hour-long meeting, keep your presentation between 35-45 minutes. This will allow time for any announcements beforehand, and for questions/discussion afterward.


Since conducting research involves more than the gathering and publishing of data, it is valuable to hold some of our lab discussions on topics pertinent to all aspects of research. Consider one of the topics bellow:

-aspects of RCR
-job searches
-professionalism and ethics
-epistemological issues
-challenges in disseminating information
-service to profession/ outreach
-policy changes


If you have strong skills in a particular area, a tutorial is another option. Even if you don’t necessarily possess these skills, if you have spent time gathering information regarding a particular subject, lab meeting may be the perfect place to share that information and give others the opportunity to provide input.


-improving writing skills
-CV formatting
-best practices for figures and poster layout
-web presence
-new software
-job talks
-statistical issues like effect size, power, reliability…