New faculty members often have little or no experience drawing up a budget for a lab until they are deciding how to best spend their startup packages, Nature Jobs reports.
Those funds, it notes, have to cover a range of expenses, from tools and equipment for the lab to salaries for staff and students and to conference travel. "I was extremely adept at doing research, publishing, and communicating some of my research, but I was not adept at determining how much money and resources it would take," says Harvard University's Lizzie Wolkovich at Nature Jobs.
New faculty members tell Nature Jobs that asking around — inquiring how others came up with their startup budget request and negotiated it and asking to see example budgets — is helpful for getting a feel on how much things costs and advice on keeping that down.
Once the budget is in hand, there are a few ways to stretch the dollars it includes. Rather than going for shiny new toys, secondhand equipment from closing labs or other sources can be a money-saver, as can making use of core labs or sharing equipment with a lab down the hall that's doing related work.
"Sometimes we're shy about talking to people because we don't want to appear ignorant," the University of Ottawa's Emily Standen says. "But the bottom line is that you are ignorant when you're just starting out."