So yesterday I wrote down some advice to the grad-student-me, and one of the things was:
When PI tells you to do something you don’t want to do, just say yes and then don’t do it.
This made some of the PIs on twitter pretty angry. Understandably so, because I am always incredibly mad when the tech that I supervise doesn’t do what I ask hir to do. So let me clarify things a bit.
When your PI tells you to use concentration X of drug Y, do so. And if you have good reasons to change that, tell your PI the reasons why and only after ze approved, you can change your protocol. When your PI tells you to handle your animals before your experiment and you’re too lazy to do it but don’t say so, you run the risk of ruining your experiment because your animals are stressed and you don’t want that.
The situation I was thinking about when writing that you shouldn’t do what your PI tells you to do is for example when your PI comes back from a meeting full of enthusiastic ideas for experiments. Ze starts explaining to you in all hir enthusiasm what you should be doing. You hear hundreds of potential experiments, and instead of getting really excited about the science, all you can think is: ”What is my mom going to say when I’m in the lab during Christmas AGAIN*?!?” In this case, just be enthusiastic with your PI, and then wait till the storm passes and ze starts to think realistically about these experiments. Think about what you want to do, and what you think makes no sense at all, and then talk about it in a week or so.
*My mom was very understanding when I was running behavioral experiments during Christmas 3 years in a row. It helped that my parents live only a 2 hour drive away from the lab, so I was just in time for dinner.