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Lab Handbook

Welcome! We’re so happy you're here. If you are reading this, you belong here! We created this handbook to help you get up to speed on what we're all about.

The lab is you

While you're here, everything you make and do, every word you write, and every interaction you have is representing the lab. When you send an email to a participant, you are the lab. When you share your knowledge with another lab on campus, you are the lab. The lab is you. When participants and colleagues think of our lab, they’ll think of you and the impression you made on them. Knowing this, we hope you will take the time to do a good job, to consider whether the things you say are true and kind, and to enjoy yourself.

Our values

  • Health and happiness: We value having happy, healthy, and well-rounded people in our lab. We hope you'll work hard and enjoy your job, but nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing.
  • Good science: We value doing good science that makes a meaningful contribution to the scientific community and the world.
  • Generosity: We value being generous with our time and resources. We're happy to help others by sharing what we've learned, and we are sure to express gratitude when others graciously help us.
  • Simplicity: We value simplicity.
  • Content: We value the content you produce, not the tool you used to produce it.
  • Independence: We want you to feel respected as the intelligent and hard-working person you are. We try to give everyone plenty of opportunities to work independently and make big contributions to lab projects.

Who does what?

See our current team on our lab website.
  • PI: Katie Schuler is our lab's Principal Investigator. You can call her Katie. She’s responsible for setting the overall direction of the lab and obtaining the funding to keep us running (grants!). She decides what research projects the lab should work on, oversees those projects, and manages the resources that support them (staff, finances, etc.).
  • Postdocs: Postdocs are recent PhD grads who are interested in acquiring additional skills before moving on to faculty (or industry!) positions. They are mentored by Katie (often co-mentored by other faculty) and work on mostly independent research projects.
  • Grad students: Grad students are working toward PhDs in Linguistics, Psychology, or Computer Science. They are mentored by Katie (sometimes co-mentored by other faculty) and work on somewhat independent research projects.
  • Lab manager
  • Research assistants: Research assistants are undergrads or postbacs working in the lab to gain research experience. Research assistants work part-time (6 hours + per week) in supporting roles on one or more research projects.

Where we work

  • In the lab: You are welcome to work in the main lab space anytime. Research assistants are required to work in the lab when running participants (in person or on zoom).
  • Remotely: Aside from the above, you can work remotely whenever you want, as long as you are being productive and engaging with the lab on Twist.

What we share

  • Resources: We write down how we do things in this wiki to benefit our lab members. We keep the wiki open to the public so we can share what we’ve learned with others.
  • Space: Our main lab workspace is shared with the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab. We have a lot in common, science-wise, and we really enjoy being roommates!
  • Science: We think open science is a great idea, so we share data, study materials, and code whenever possible. Ask Katie before you share any materials, data, or code to ensure you have permission from everyone on the study team.

Code of conduct

  • Principles of responsible conduct: The Principles of Responsible Conduct are the basic expectations the University of Pennsylvania sets for its students and employees. Make sure you read them so you understand what is expected of you.
  • Standards of acceptable behavior: We want the lab to be a safe, open, and welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of age, body size, disability, ethnicity, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression, level of experience, education, socio-economic status, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation.
  • DOs (things like this contribute to a positive environment): Using welcoming and inclusive language, being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences, gracefully accepting constructive criticism, and showing empathy towards other lab members
  • DONTs (things like this are not tolerated in the lab):
  • Using sexualized language or imagery
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or advances
  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments
  • Personal or political attacks
  • Public or private harassment
  • Publishing other’s private information (e.g. email, address) without permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting
Katie makes sure everyone upholds the standards of acceptable behavior and will take appropriate and fair corrective action to unacceptable behavior. If you notice someone being harassed, or are harassed yourself, tell Katie right away.

General lab policies

  • Research (mis)conduct: Don't fabricate, falsify, or plagiarize. Research integrity is very important and we don't tolerate research misconduct of any kind. Read Penn’s policies regarding misconduct in research very carefully.
  • Reproducible research: Reproducible research is an essential part of science and an expectation for all projects in the lab. For results to be reproducible, all aspects of our research projects must be organized and well documented. To achieve this high standard, we have explicit protocols for every step in the life cycle of our research. You are required to follow these protocols carefully. There are no exceptions.
  • Authorship: We follow the APA authorship guidelines in the lab. Project leads can expect to be authors. Research assistants are normally not authors.

Human subjects research

You must follow our IRB protocols. If you don't, there could be severe consequences for the entire lab (i.e. we could lose permission to do any research with human subjects). If you haven't been added to the protocol, you can't run participants, look at data, analyze data, or be in any way involved in the project.
  • Photo and video policy: Don't take or post a picture/video of someone without their consent. Never take pictures or videos of research participants; we don't have IRB approval for that. We only capture audio and screen recordings during research studies.
  • Noise policy: Participant running rooms for our lab and the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab are right next door. Being too loud could disrupt data collection in both labs. If you want to have long or loud conversations, find a place outside the shared lab workspace.
  • Dress code: The dress code is casual, but not too casual. When interacting with participants or presenting your work, don’t wear pajamas or workout clothes, but jeans are fine.

Our tools

Twist: we use Twist to communicate with each other instead of email. You'll be invited to join the lab's Twist via email.
Todoist: we use Todoist to manage our projects and keep track of who is doing what. You’ll be invited to join the lab’s Todoist via email.
Github: You’ll need a GitHub account to work on lab code. If you don’t already have an account, we recommend signing up for the student developer pack – the way we use GitHub is free, but this pack provides lots of cool (normally paid) resources for students.
GitBook : we use GitBook to maintain the ChildLangLab Wiki, our work in progress knowledge base that describes what we do and how we do it.
HubSpot: Hubspot is a CRM (customer relationship management) system that we use to manage our interactions with participants, including email, scheduling appointments, and tracking the success of our recruitment efforts. You’ll be invited to join the Child Language Lab HubSpot at your email address.
Google Drive: Files on which you are invited to collaborate will be shared with you personally, via your email account.

Shared lab login

All passwords are available on Lastpass.
Calendly: The tool we use to schedule families to participate at our lab. Login with the lab's email ([email protected]) and OAuth with google.
Lab Calendar: We have a shared calendar that we use to schedule things and keep track of lab events. (no password required)
Google voice: We use google voice as our phone and voicemail ([email protected])
Zotero: We use Zotero to manage lab references. There is a shared account (login: [email protected]) for all papers.
Uber: We use uber to send RAs to schools and aftercare programs around Philly. Login with the lab's email ([email protected]) and the Uber password on Lastpass.

Our events and routines

The lab has a few routines that allow us to set goals, review our progress, and celebrate our achievements. All lab members are invited to attend these routines.
  • RA working group meeting: Each week, research assistants meet to talk about how the past week went, get help and feedback, and set goals for the next week.
  • Lab meeting: Each week, we have a joint lab meeting with the Language and Cognition lab (Dr. Anna Papafragou). Usually a lab member presents on in-progress research, but sometimes we prepare for conference submissions or invite outside speakers.
We are also invited to attend several other relevant events around Penn.
  • Trueswell lab meeting: Weekly lab meeting of the Language Development and Language Processing Lab. Content usually includes someone presenting a practice talk, an idea for a research study, or an outside speaker.
  • Language evolution lab meeting: Weekly lab meeting of the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab. Content usually includes someone giving a practice talk or presenting an idea for a research study.
  • ILST seminar: Weekly seminar speaker hosted by the Integrated Language Sciences and Technology (ILST) MINDCore initiative.
  • MINDCore seminar: Weekly seminar speaker hosted by MINDCore.
  • Dev Group Meeting: Monthly meeting of the Penn Child Development Labs that we like to attend. Content typically includes practice talks by postdocs or grad students that are part of the lab group, or outside speakers with work relevant to group.
  • Psychology Colloquium: Biweekly speaker series broadly relevant to psychology hosted by the psychology department.
  • Linguistics seminar: Monthly speaker series hosted by the linguistics department.
  • Penn Linguistics Conference (PLC): Annual linguistics conference hosted by the Penn graduate students (see our lab wiki for a full list of conferences relevant to our work).

Outside support

Amy Forsyth | Program Coordinator for Linguistics
Amy makes sure the department runs smoothly and is happy to answer questions. If you need anything from keys, to equipment, to reserving space she is probably the person to go to. Amy is located in the Linguistics Department room 304-CB and her email is [email protected]
Malik Blassingale | Local Service Provider (LSP)
Malik is the LSP (computer guru) for the Linguistics Department. He’s the person to contact to solve all of your computing and networking problems. His office is located in FBH 232 and he can be reached at [email protected]

Gratitude

This handbook was inspired by many others, especially basecamp, the Aly Lab, and the Contributor Covenant. Big shoutout to these groups for making such wonderful resources and encouraging others to adopt them.
This section has been adapted from the Aly Lab Manual. Thanks to Dr. Aly for sharing!