While research varies at Northeastern, lab policies and expectations remain constant and consistent. NU-RES Research Compliance recommends that during the onboarding stage for new lab members, PIs review lab policies and expectations, including publications and authorship. Creating a formal “Lab Policies and Expectations Manual” is an efficient way to ensure all necessary points are discussed during onboarding. This manual can be viewed as a working document, with the ability to be updated and revised over time as needed. Additionally, PIs can consider sending a “refresher” email with the manual every 4-6 months and/or reviewing during a team meeting. 

Lab manuals can also be accompanied by a “Lab User Agreement” which lab members should sign after they have read through the lab manual. This agreement indicates that the lab member has read the lab manual and understands and agrees to the policies and terms stated in the manual. Lab agreements may include consent to lab polices, lab use and access controls, intellectual property rights, and term and termination. We have uploaded a sample lab user agreement below:  

If your lab works with human subjects research, please contact the Department of Human Research for additional guidance from the IRB.  

If your lab works with hazardous chemicals, please contact the Office of Academic and Research Safety (OARS) for additional guidance. 

Recommended lab manual expectations may include:

  • General onboarding (lab bench assignments/desk space, lab keys/access, Google calendar, etc.)
  • Diversity
  • Personal life
  • Conduct
  • Specific rules for the different members of the lab  
    • Postdocs and senior PhD students  
    • PI responsibilities 
    • Expectations  
  • Master and junior PhD students  
    • PI responsibilities  
    • Expectations  
  • Meetings and Consultation  
    • Lab Group Meetings  
    • Individual Meetings  
    • Communication  
    • Independence 
  • Working in Other Labs and/or Switching Advisors  
  • Publications and Authorship  
  • Funding  
    • Graduate Student Stipends  
    • Research Funding  
    • Grant Proposal Writing 
    • Summer Funding  
  • Dissertation  

Below are some examples that may serve as a helpful starting point for drafting a lab manual:

last updated 05.07.2024