Due to the social distancing required as part of Public safety measures by the COVID-19 outbreak means that many are now facing the new challenge of working with and leading work teams remotely. While in-person meetings or physically doing experiments in a laboratory setting is no longer an option, what are some meaningful activities that can be done, when Principal investigators, students, and research assistants are working from home. The list below gives a good starting point but is in no way meant to be comprehensive.
Re-analyze: Are there new ways to look at the old data? Generating new data may be difficult. Can you combine, compare, or re-analyze datasets to ask new questions or revisit old questions. Re-analyzing may not result in scientific breakthroughs but make for an interesting figure in a paper, a brief report, or even pilot data for a new grant application.
Re-organize: It’s now time to organize all the random files, presentations that were meant to be cataloged and collated. As an example, you can organize all the PowerPoint presentations over the years, based on content, conferences, etc. Not only does this allow trainees to familiarize themselves with previous work, but it also serves as a slide library for the whole group when they get to present their work.
Re-prioritize: Identify the best drafts sitting on your desk that have been waiting for attention and get to editing and writing. Not only can you work on original research articles, but this might also be an opportunity for the team to work on a review or even a perspective article by collaborating virtually with trainees, collaborators, etc.
Re-assess: Have your entire lab team search for grant opportunities through foundation opportunities and professional organizations and start brainstorming ideas and projects for the new grant application. Involving your trainees in this process will prepare them for when they must undertake this monumental task on their own further down in their careers.
Re-connect: As traveling and major conferences are being canceled, we are missing out on the opportunity for sharing ideas with colleagues in the field. Reach out to colleagues via email, phone calls, or video calls. You can organize a virtual lab meeting/small poster session and allow trainees to present and to practice their communication skills.
Review: As you get a lot of requests to review articles relevant to your work, click ”Accept” selectively and include your trainee if possible, so they can learn about the review process themselves.
Read: In addition to the stack of papers you’ve been meaning to read, identify some high-impact, cutting edge work and organize a web-based journal club for your team to go through the current literature in your field.
Remember that the goal is distancing from people physically and not socially. The major commitment is to ensure connections, good work and schedule is maintained.
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