The Roach Brain Lab
for studying biodiversity through molecular systematics
This section outlines the various policies related to working in the Roach Brain lab. Other policies may have been mentioned in previous sections. This is for things that are important to reiterate or that didn’t fit in other sections.
Non-dissertation activities, outreach, and other research
This section is only relevant to grad students. The following is meant as a nifty guide, but your PI may reference it when encouraging/discouraging you from non-lab activities.
The following decision tree was made by Dr. Evangelista on May 18 2023. It is a tentative guide to how Dominic will make decisions about using lab funds he obtains. If you obtained your own funding, most of this doesn’t apply to you (unless you need supplemental funding). Nothing in this “guide” is a contract, a commitment, or promise of any kind. It is only meant to illustrate how a decision MIGHT be made about your funding. See more notes below the figure.
Even if you and your PI agree something SHOULD be funded, doesn’t mean it is practical, or possible given current budgeting constraints. Dr. Evangelista and then the SIB business office have final authority on how funds will be spent.
“Other criteria” considered might be a cost-benefit analysis considering (i) how dire your need is, (ii) how much funding is needed, (iii) how much does this benefit you and other people in the lab, (iv) how well you have performed, and (v) possible return on investment.
“Other options” are to find a free or cheaper alternative, or obtain your own (full or partial) funding.
Note that many of the options are contingent upon the student/post-doc “fulfilling or exceeding the requirements of their program and the lab”. If you are a grad student or postdoc this might refer to you meeting your timeline, making significant regular progress on your project, publishing papers, or obtaining awards. For grad students it also means are you adequately fulfilling your TA duties, doing well in your courses, and are otherwise in good standing with the department.
The integrity of our science is of utmost importance. As scientists, we trust other scientists to be honest in reporting their research findings. This assumption allows us to move science forward. Thus, we must be honest in everything we do and report. If you make a mistake that compromises an experiment (no matter the importance/cost), document this and report it to Dominic. We would rather accomplish nothing than report illegitimate findings. If you suspect any wrongdoing in the lab, it is essential to report this immediately to Dominic and this problem will be investigated accordingly. If you believe that the PI is involved or responsible for the wrongdoing you should seek out the office of research integrity or report this to the department chairperson. Talking to the office does not equate to reporting anything officially. Keep in mind that there are different types of misconduct that can compromise research integrity. Sometimes this is outright fraud or fabrication of data, but more subtle misconduct like plagiarism, or knowingly conducting or reporting compromised experiments are also violations of research integrity. Since there are different levels of misconduct it is important to remember that not all of these are fireable offences, and some may be due to ignorance. It’s better to be open, know your limits and ask for help when you need it, so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you are unknowingly compromising research integrity. Dr. Evangelista is ultimately responsible for all research in the lab, so being transparent and honest is the only way to ensure integrity. One must also remember we are all biased, so things like blinding samples and treatment groups can make a significant difference in reporting valid findings.
If you are not sure what counts as plagiarism, or why it should never be done, check out this nifty guide: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism
Policy on AI, chat bots and LLMs
(As of May 2023) They are useful tools, so use them to improve your productivity. However, never use them to write for you and don't rely on them for factual information (they have a terrible understanding of scientific literature and little-to-no reasoning skills). They are best used as a search engine or as a helpful tool for starting a task. Always interdependently verify what you get from an AI.
ii. Conflicts of Interest
It is essential to understand what constitutes a conflict of interest and how to properly disclose them. Conflicts of interest can be regarding a financial stake in a company that you or a family member could benefit from. Please see the university/institute policy here. We also must remember that conflicts of interest can be non-financial. Examples include: reviewing a paper that “scoops” your work, or reviewing a paper/grant from a close friend whom you cannot give an unbiased opinion about. If you think any of your activities represent a potential conflict of interest, please take the appropriate measures to disclose these interests as described in the above link. If there are questions about whether your situation represents a conflict, please talk to your PI. They can either help you directly or, more likely, put you in touch with someone who can help.
The section in quotes below is from the template lab manual that Dr. Evangelista took most of this lab manual from. Below that is Dr. Evangelista’s opinion about competition.
“The current scientific environment is competitive. We are competing against other labs for funding. Funding is given based on research output and that output’s impact. The impact of work is often reduced if you are not the “first” lab to make a particular discovery. There are almost certainly other labs that are working on the same/similar problems as us and that comes with a risk of being “scooped”.
People handle competition differently, but try not to let it cause you stress. We cannot control what other labs are doing, so instead let’s focus on doing our best. At times you may feel like there is competition within the lab; for example, you may apply for the same travel grant as another lab member. This sort of competition can be constructive, you can help each other submit the best application possible, or destructive when you refuse to help each other or try to hinder the other person’s application. Destructive competition undermines positive group dynamics and creates a negative working environment, so always try to make competition constructive.”
Never do destructive competition. Always be constructive, even when you think it will not be reciprocated. If you do this enough, hopefully it will forge new research connections and collaborations. If you see that someone does not reciprocate, then be less constructive to them next time but don’t be destructive.
Getting scooped. This is definitely a stressing worry. However, when there are two papers published close in time (<2 years) of similar quality then they should both be cited by other people equally, right? In fact, if you and another researcher are publishing on the same topic frequently then that appears to be a “hot topic” and you could be perceived to be in a burgeoning field. This might motivate more people to study this topic and this will draw even more citations to your work. This is perspective is perhaps overly optimistic, but not without merit.
Build bridges, not walls. In the 90’s and early 2000’s Klaus Klass and Philippe Grandcolas (and others, to a lesser extent) argued extensively in the literature about the cockroach phylogeny. In my opinion, their language got inappropriate and unprofessional. Andre Nel and Olivier Bethoux have had a similar feud and neither come out looking great. These situations degrade reputations and miss opportunities for collaboration and good science. Diverse teams, and teams with diverse opinions, can do better science than homogeneous teams. Disagreements should increase productivity, not sacrifice integrity.
i. General Principle and Responsibilities
Authorship is the primary mechanism for determining the allocation of credit to scholars. Authorship assigns ownership, responsibility, and accountability for the content and integrity of the scholarly work and intellectual products. That being said, the modern usage of “author contributions sections” (official or unofficial) make this easier to deal with.
Authorship is free, and not something only reserved for the “elite”. However, authorship does come with responsibility. If there is an error, or a controversial finding in a paper, all the authors may be perceived more negatively because of this. If a researcher, institution, or media outlet has questions about the research, each author should be able to communicate their contribution to the project (no matter how small) and defend it.
As such, all authors are responsible for upholding the integrity of the research however they can. Authors should ensure that care and effort have been taken to determine that all the data are complete, truthful, accurate, reasonably interpreted, and retrievable for re-analysis.
Authors should also have rights. If you are a coauthor on a paper you should be given ample opportunity to comment on, revise, or contribute to that publication in some way. That being said, there are some other rules and limitations we will follow.
ii. Arrangements and Expectations
First author. The first author is the lead author. It is usually the team member who is most familiar with the project details, usually with the deepest and broadest perspective, usually driving the project forward, and majority of the time will be the person primarily in-charge of writing the paper. The lead author is expected to commit to completion of this project, including assisting in response(s) to the reviewers/editor which may span beyond their time in the lab. It is most effective if the same person serves as lead author from the project's launch to publication. While the first author is expected to guide the paper to completion, it may not be possible for one person to oversee the whole project. If the original lead author must step down, a replacement will have to be assigned or elected. The project/manuscript should be '(co-)owned' by that person going forward, and first authorship will be shared. First author(s) are responsible for the bulk of data acquisition, analysis, figure preparation, and writing (main text including figure legends, cover letter, and response to reviewers/editor).
Co-first author. In special cases there may be a second “first” author indicated on a publication. In this cases there would be two people on the team who fit the above description. These are usually two-person teams who share leadership of a research project.
Last author. If you are a student in the Roach Brain lab then, most of the time, PI-Evangelista will be the last author on your papers. This goes for post-docs as well, but slightly less often. The last author as seen as the team leader/mentor/advisor or someone who contributed intellectually in a broad capacity without doing as much hands-on work as the first author. However, if there is no one on the research team who matches this description, or this is the same person who is the lead author, then the numeric last author will effectively be a "middle author". When you're reading a paper, you can usually tell if the last author was a leader/mentor/advisor if they are listed as a corresponding author. If they aren't a corresponding author then they may be a person who contributed little to the project (i..e, a middle author).
Middle authors. These are the other people who contributed to your project, either intellectually, through data collection or otherwise. Not all labs/journals accept simple “data collection” as a qualification for authorship. However, sometimes data collection is a significant activity, and can be a large % of the work needed to publish a paper. As such, undergraduates, or even non-academics, can qualify as middle authors (in Dominic’s opinion). Again, authorship is free and not reserved for the “elite”. In fact, some authors are not even real people! (See https://peerj.com/articles/12470/). Also, Philippe Grandcolas, director of research at CNRS at the Paris Natural History Museum is a coathor on a number of Dominic’s papers when he has literally never done anything on any of them and refused any kind of help that was asked of him. So, if he can insist on authorship in exchange for nothing, then students in our lab can insist on authorship in exchange for their hard work.
Author order. Author order is a contentious topic and there is no one best way to handle this. Traditionally, as author number increases (2nd, 3rd etc.) it is assumed they contributed less, until the last author, who is assumed to have been very important. However, some journals require an “author contributions” section, which partially solves this issue. If a journal doesn’t have that section, you can put the same information in the Acknowledgements. Yet, none of this solves the issue of whose name comes before who. This somewhat childish worry does have implications because not everyone will read the “author contributions” snippet. If you can’t decide who among the middle authors should go before who then perhaps you should simply default to alphabetical or use a random number generator. This will not soothe the egos of the people who end up being towards the end of the list, but perhaps nothing would.
Corresponding authors. The corresponding author have their email printed on the published paper. The aim of this is that if anyone has a question about the study (want to know how something was done, to get access to files, or data etc.) they contact that person. There can be more than one corresponding author on a paper but it is almost always the first and/or last author. If the first author is also the lead author, then that person should be a corresponding author. If the last author is the PI and was also a major intellectual contributor to the study, then they should be a corresponding author as well. The only time the first author should not be a corresponding author is if they do not plan on staying in academia. In that case, all project files and data should be given to the corresponding author/last author.
While we generally err on the side of generosity, gift authorship will not be considered. Negotiation of authorship (both inclusion and order) should be open, professional, and respectful. Any changes in authorship should be approved by all original authors. If you need clarification on authorship issues, please talk to Dominic. Anyone who fails to fulfill the minimal requirements (see below) will be taken off the author list. We follow the CreDiT method of contributions.