A collection of free downloadable materials, references and useful resources  to help you manage your lab, your team or yourself.  We initially assembled these materials for participants in our popular workshop "Managing your science team: Setting goals, giving feedback and evaluating scientists."  Let us know if you find them useful or if you have other resources which we can include here. 

PDF or Word files


1. Advisor/Advisee compacts

Spelling out what you expect from people in your lab and what they should expect from you is one of the most important first conversations you can have.

"Graduate student/advisor compact": Describes what grad students should expect from their advisors, what advisors owe their grad students and vice versa. Spelling these things out between advisor and advisee helps clarify mutual expectations and responsibilities. Another example of such a contract, borrowed from Dr. Trina McMahon at the University of Wisconsin, Madison can be found here

"Postdoc-advisor compact": What postdocs should expect from their advisors, what advisors owe their pos-docs and vice versa. As above, spelling these things out clarifies mutual expectations and responsibilities.

2. Handbooks, guides and articles about "the life scientific"

"Collaboration and team science: A field guide": A useful guide produced by the NIH to help scientists think through the complexities and challenges of doing team based and collaborative research.

"Making the Right Moves"  This is a downloadable book created by HHMI in 2006. It covers many of the "nuts and bolts" of setting up and running a lab, mentoring, career advancement strategies and more.

"How to succeed in science: A concise guide for young biomedical scientists- Part 1": First of two articles by Jonathan Yewdell (NIH) with "unvarnished" (his term) advice and guidance for biomedical scientists.

How to succeed in science: A concise guide for young biomedical scientists- Part 2"

3. Authorship guidelines

Some of the most complex and vexing problems encountered in research involve questions of authorship and author order on publications.  Many institutions have guidelines regarding who should be included as an author. Author order is often a thornier problem.  Here are two references to help you think though such issues.

"Authorship guidelines for graduate students" A useful guide to assist scientists (not just grad students) in thinking about authorship and how to anticipate some of the most common problems with collaborative projects.

"Author sequence and credit for contributions in multiauthored publications" Tscharntke, T., et al, 2007.  Some useful ideas to help resolve author-order questions.

Authorship Taxonomies: More recently,  attempts have been made to devise a "taxonomy" of authors indicating exactly who did what for a publication.  It is now becoming common practice to include a narrative listing of what type of contribution each author made. See Brand et. al. (2015) for a detailed guide on using this system.   

4. Performance reviews for scientists and technical staff

If you are lucky, you work at an institution whose human resources department provides guidance and training in how to help your science, technical and administrative staff using feedback and performance reviews. Here are a few documents that you can adapt for your own use to help with this process.

"SMART Goals" Shows how to set specific, achievable goals for your team members.

"Performance review template: support and technical staff": A form to help you review performance of lab staff. May seem a bit rigid if used for scientists, but its worth a look.

"Performance review  template: Professional and administrative staff" : This form offers flexibility in entering research-specific goals and expectations and is therefore more suitable for use with scientists. post-docs, etc. 

"Manager's self-review worksheet" : Are you giving the people in your group the professional guidance and support they need? This form helps you answer those questions.

"Short self-review worksheet" : Before you meet for an annual or semi-annual review conversation, ask the people in your lab to fill out this assessment  form first.

See below for our combined performance review and Individual Development Plan document

5. PostDoc Individual Development PLans

Another important tool to help guide postdocs is the Individual Development Plan, or IDP. This is a document created jointly by the postdoc and adviser that sets out both long term and short term expectations for the postdoc's development. Development goals can include accomplishing specific research objectives, learning new techniques, learning or improving management, leadership or interpersonal skills, as well as long term professional job goals. Importantly, there has been actual research showing that postdocs who have IDPs in place fare better in their work and productivity (more publications, more grant funding, etc) than those who don't. You can download the 2006 study of nearly 4000 postdocs by Sigma Xi showing this here.  Below are several examples of postdoc IDPs used by Stanford and UPenn.  I promise you, its worth the time and effort to create these documents for your postdocs.

This article from Cell, "Yearly planning meetings: individualized development plans aren't just more paperwork." (Molecular Cell, 2015, 58, 718-721) gives a succinct overview of the utility and importance of IDPs in both academia and the private sector.  

Stanford IDP - initial plan.

Stanford IDP - annual update.


SMA combined IDP and performance review document

New (March 2018): Science Management Associates has created a combined Performance Review and Individual Development Plan document that you can download and edit for your own use.  We made this combined document because we believe that performance reviews as well as IDPs need to be done on an annual basis (sometimes semi-annually) and it is convenient to do both at the same time and in the same document. This document incorporates what we see as the best in the various documents we have reviewed and contains instructions for both the adviser/mentor and postdoc/mentee.

Click here to download the SMA Combined Performance Review and Individual Development Plan (revised January 14, 2019 . 

5. The most important study you've never heard of supports the efficacy of Science Management Associates training programs

In 2003 the scientific research society Sigma Xi initiated a landmark postdoc survey overseen by Goeff Davis. The survey was based on over 8000 responses (big N= high reliability) and sought to determine whether there were aspects of the post-doctoral working experience that correlated with measurable outcomes  such as postdoc productivity, level of satisfaction with adviser, frequency of conflicts in the lab and more.  The results may surprise you and are available for download here:  PowerPoint Complete Report; Survey Highlights Survey results and technical details

6. Resources for women in science

This section is a work in progress. If you have ideas or suggestions for content let us know.

We are especially excited about a new podcast series created and hosted by Phoebe Cohen,   an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Williams College. Entitled "Female of the Species" each episode contains an interview with a woman scientist focusing on the experiences, lives and musings of women in science. The podcasts are thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating - for both men and women. Highly recommended.

A podcast for the sisterhood of science. A healthy mix of issues facing women in STEM, good solid chit chat, and belly laughs.

7. Resources relating to reducing gender and  minority bias in science

We strongly recommend viewing the following PowerPoint presentation created by Eve Fine of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. It contains invaluable information about implicit bias and guidelines on how to counteract it during the hiring process: 

•“Reviewing Job Applicants – Understanding and Minimizing Bias in Evaluation.” 2015, Eve Fine, Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute of the University of Wisconsin, Madison available at:

We also recommend the following book from the same group, which is available as a free download:

•"Searching for Excellence and Diversity" 2012, Eve Fine and Jo Handelsman. Available as a free download at