This week was the first week in the lab for me and my three summer research students. One of my priorities was to think about how to manage three students working on three different projects.
I needed a system that allows the students to track their results and their thoughts about future work while I also contribute my ideas / suggestions for experiments.
Some groups use specialized group management software like Slack. Some groups use an old-fashioned easel (see the photo from a colleague of mine, Louis Kuo) or whiteboard. So far this summer, our group has been leaning on google docs more than ever.
Each student has a doc where they keep a running update about their work (this is in addition to their lab notebook, and the google doc generally is a little less detailed). I can read the doc and add my own notes with suggestions for what to do next.
I’ve also created a master doc for all three students to share, where I can “talk” to them all at once. I drop in links to interesting stories online or general resources related to research. We used this doc to plan a group trivia outing and organize a miniature periodic table of cupcakes. Another doc contains “Anne’s shopping list”, where students can make a note when we run out of supplies.
This description makes it sound like I never speak to or see my students. Not true! I’m in the lab with them, especially since they are all new to the lab this summer. But in a summer with a decent amount of work-related meetings and travel for me, I’m happy to have found a communication strategy that can be in place even when I’m not physically present.
What do the rest of you do to coordinate your team’s work?