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Patience and the 'Not-in-the-Lab' PI

It has been more than three years since he has done steady bench science, Prof-life Substance says at his blog. As such, he has begun to forget just how complicated even the seemingly simplest lab tasks can be. "Just a couple weeks ago I was talking with a person in the lab about how great it would be to have These Data for an upcoming proposal. We talked about how to get These Data and off they went," Prof-like says. "It turns out that to get These Data they had to track down Those Data and write a program to wrangle Them Data and the initial analyses with All Data didn't make sense, so they had to be troubleshot with Some Dudes. Some Dudes found a bug and had to overhaul That System, which meant These Data needed to be collected in a slightly different way." That situation, he adds, exemplifies the struggles of "the not-in-the-lab PI." It can be tough to accept when things don't go according to plan, Prof-like says, but as head of the lab it's important to recognize that certain problems are unavoidable, and "likely [have] nothing to do with the dedication or work ethic of the person tasked with collecting These Data." Overall, Prof-like says he finds it useful to "remind myself of this from time to time."