As undergraduate researchers and student assistants, you gain an understanding of the research process, graduate student and faculty life, and a foot in the door to bigger and better research opportunities. Please follow these general etiquette rules when working in any lab setting, along with any specific ones provided by your mentor(s), to ensure a smooth and respectful working environment.

  • Under no circumstances should you be doing work other than the lab work. Remember you made a commitment to your faculty and graduate student mentors and your program to do the work – please don’t make things awkward by doing your homework while you are supposed to be working in the lab.
  • Please limit your cell phone use. Texting should be done outside of the lab.

  • If something goes wrong, or you did something wrong, be honest and take appropriate responsibility. Making an apology is the mature and respectable thing to do.

  • Always clean up after yourself. If you don’t, someone else has to do it which makes extra work for them. Any items used in any task you do, please take the time to properly wash what you used and put them away. Be sure to deposit trash/items in the proper receptacles. Leave your work area clean and organized.
  • When in doubt, ask. Your mentor(s) are often available by office hours, phone, text, email, etc. if they are not physically present. Please utilize different means as appropriate to make sure you get the answers you need.

  • Always be punctual and make sure to follow your schedule. If something comes up, which happens from time to time, then talk to your mentors about making up the hours on a different day. This is often required if you are taking research credit hours or are in the LSFRS program. Keep appropriate documentation (doctor notes, emails, etc.) as you would for any other professor and share them with your mentor(s).
  • Please do not leave early unless approved by your mentor(s). To do otherwise is seen as highly disrespectful. Your mentor(s) may come in at any point to relay instructions or request updates and your disappearance may affect progress in the lab for others.
  • Limit changes to the schedule as much as possible. If you don’t show up or switch schedules, this disrupts others’ work. Being in college is much more than book learning, it is learning to balance all of your responsibilities so you must plan to meet those responsibilities.
  • If you want to be challenged more, then you need to show you can excel at the work you are doing now. That means no complaining, doing a good job, and of course being on time and showing up.
  • Take initiative. If you see something that needs to be done, do it. This includes washing dishes, putting things away that someone left out (like specimens or samples). Initiative is one thing that employers and professors notice and will set you apart from the rest.

Bear in mind the commitment you give researchers in any lab position you hold. The quality of work you do will lead to a letter of recommendation that can get you into a research program, job, or graduate school. Remember that everything you do now is in preparation for what you do in the future.