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Strategy, What Strategy?

There are two general ways to go about managing a lab, says Vicki Doronina at Bitesize Bio. One she calls the seagull strategy while the other she dubs the commons strategy.

Seagulls, she writes, may live all together, but they don't hunt for food together. Rather, they scavenge food from each other. In the lab, such a management strategy leads to each person being self-reliant. Though, Doronina notes, it can lead to inefficient use of resources.

"Applying the seagull strategy (SGS) to the lab, each person develops their own SGS so that, at least in theory, everyone's work speed depends on their individual organization skills," she writes, adding that this approach also leads to "an environment where everybody spends time making the same reagents."

At the other end of the spectrum, then is the commons strategy in which such reagents and other stocks are communal property. However, Doronina points out that it is subject to the tragedy of the commons in which people use but do not contribute to the communal property. "However, this can be prevented by establishing a rota and applying peer pressure on colleagues who don't pull their weight," she adds.

She also notes that if researchers find themselves in a "seagull" lab, but want a "commons" one, they can always make a stock solution and encourage others to use it.