Code of Conduct
Experimental Micromechanical Characterisation Research Group Code of Conduct
Last reviewed - TBB 26/11/2018
- Inclusion and diversity
- Mental health
- Flexible working hours & intergroup communication
- Manuscript writing
- Outputs and open science
- Conference attendance & abstract submission
- Intellectual Property
We value the participation of every member of our community and want to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, both professionally and personally. Accordingly, all members of Experimental Micromechanical Characterisation Research Group (ExpMicroMech) are expected to show respect and courtesy to others at all times. We create our culture and our culture is inclusive.
Please note that this code of conduct supplements, and does not trump, Department and College level policies for your level of employ or study.
Inclusion and diversity
We value an inclusive and diverse research environment to support each individuals development and research, and to promote robust decision making and high quality research. All group members are thus dedicated to a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, and/or religion. We do not tolerate harassment by and/or of members of our group in any form and we also all members to support each other in upholding the following principals:
- All communication, be it online or in person, should be appropriate for a professional audience, and be considerate of people from different cultural backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate at any time.
- Be kind to others, and do not insult or put down other group members. We acknowledge that we will grow as a team, and learn from each other.
- Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate.
- Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of discussions, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
- Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately.
- Online communication may be public, such as in social media or via (purposeful or inadvertent) forwarding of emails. It is often sensible to be explicit if you require items to remain confidential, though note that we will try to be discrete where possible.
- Group members are not responsible for policing content of social media and members are individually responsible for considering the impact of the communication on others.
- It is often best to resolve issues through direct communication, rather than embarrassing people publicly (e.g. via a social media mob).
Ben Britton will discuss the code of conduct with lab members who violate these rules, no matter how much they have contributed to the ExpMicroMech, or how specialised their skill set. If inappropriate behaviour persists after this initial discussion, formal processes, in line with Imperial College’s work practise policies, will commence.
To report an issue, please contact Ben Britton; all communication will be treated as confidential. If you do not feel comfortable contacting Ben directly, you may find discussions with Professor Dunne or the appropriate members of academic staff (e.g. the Tutor for Women, the Post Graduate Tutor, or the Post Doctoral Staff Representatives).
There is increasing evidence that certain attributes of research may challenge your mental health. Specific factors driving this include:
- Low pay and quality-of-life issues, particularly as a function of living in an expensive city as London
- Feelings of isolation in your research; e.g. everyone has their own topic and it can often feel as if you are working on your own
- Uncertainty in your research, although it should be noted that, in research of all kinds, it is not just the outcomes that are uncertain, but the questions themselves!
- Uncertainty in your career
- So-called “negative results”; i.e. at some point in your research it is likely that certain questions will be more challenging to answer than anticipated, or that you will feel you have spent days/months/years toiling with little to show
- Burnout; i.e. feeling the need to work endless hours to make up for the above issues, and the subsequent exhaustion
All researchers (MSc, MEng, PhD, Post Doctoral, and Academic Staff) come across most of these issues at some level. I strongly encourage everyone in the group to take an active and preemptive approach towards the maintenance of their mental health. I assure you that you have the time and resources needed for successful research. If there is anything that is placing undue stress, or preventing you from performing at your potential, please do not hesitate to let Ben or any of the postgraduate tutors in the department know.
Sharing these issues can reduce stress and help others be accommodating towards your needs, and we may be able to assist. Please make yourself familiar resources on campus: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health/. Every effort will be made to help you access the right support networks.
Flexible working hours & intergroup communication
The exact hours members of the lab choose to work is up to them; however, being on campus between 1000 and 1600 most days will help facilitate collaborative working and, we hope, lead to a more fulfilling research experience.
Typically, we host a weekly group meeting at 0930 on Friday’s and members are expected to attend if they are not otherwise engaged in research business (e.g. at conference, attending training or a lecture, or using a central facility). The EA-Micromechanics Group meeting, hosted in partnership, with Professor Fionn Dunne, is an excellent forum for updating colleagues on project progress, developing research skills, and widening our collective understanding.
Please inform Ben Britton of holidays or notable absences in advance (there is a group calendar that you can use). Permission for holiday is rarely required, but please respect key deadlines within the calendar year and respect that we work in a research group. It is important to take holiday, respect weekends (or time in lieu) and establish a sustainable work-life balance. It is also important to respect the time and efforts of others, and the contribution of funders, and to note that effective working will improve the quality of your research. Where there are key time pressures, it is important to prioritise work. If you struggle with establishing a sustainable work life balance, please discuss this with Ben Britton at an early stage.
Where possible, avoid sending work-related email outside of 0800 and 1800 on Weekdays. Outlook provides functionality for saving an email as a draft. There are also scripting methods to assist in good email management (i.e. such that you can complete tasks on the weekend, but not burden others until the weekday).
The majority of intergroup communication occurs via Slack (https://expmicromech.slack.com/). It is suggested that you install the desktop client on your PC, and that you install a client on your mobile. For the mobile install, disable push notifications. Often questions about the lab can be quickly and easily answers in public channels, or via direct messaging on Slack.
For most Monday’s, there is a weekly catch up via Howdy. Please endeavour to reply (between 1030 and 1730) as this is a useful feedback mechanism to assist in prioritising group activities, and to provide focus for your own work.
For all communication methods, Please respect people’s working patterns, and remember that other people will have different priorities and focus. Please give consideration to the timing of your correspondence with respect to what the recipient needs to do; for example, try not to send a message at 1759 for something that is required for a 1000 meeting the next day. No lab members are required nor should feel obliged to reply to messages outside of their typical work hours. However, prompt replies to messages, within these times, is helpful.
You should also be a member of the firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Outlook groups. Please remember that these groups have a large subscriber base, and that emails to the groups (especially) should be polite, informative and respectful.
In your work related life, you may wish to engage with social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Please be considerate of others when using these platforms, and respectful for how others may wish to use them. For instance Ben uses Twitter in a personal and professional nature, and his account has a wide audience (including the Head of Materials, prospective students, his parents, funders, and other academics) and it is important to bear in mind they very public nature of interactions on social media, and that many people (who may not be on a specific platform) will read and hear of online correspondence. In contrast, Ben is also on Facebook but he does not use this for work and may only friend group members once they have left the lab. We are not compelled to engage with any social media, or use any media for work related purposes and we will never pressure each other to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ each other.
If you experience any challenges related to flexible working or communication within the ExpMicroMech, please do not hesitate to contact Ben Britton. All discussions will be treated as confidential.
Group members are expected to complete a check-list document for each manuscript they submit. This check-list is there to provide a standard and appropriate method of ensuring a minimum standard (both written and ethical) of the group's output. The checklist document can be downloaded from here.
Authorship on any manuscript or presentation will be openly discussed in lab meetings and we aim to be inclusive of everyone who has made a significant contribution to the work being presented. A “significant contribution” can include but is not limited to, interpretations of primary data and development of ideas presented in the work; it need not include data curation or financial contribution to the work undertaken.
The order list of authors will typically follow the Physical Sciences conventions of the lead author (who will often lead writing of the document) who takes the first position, and significant up-front positions are are dictated by the approximate percentage contribution made by each author (see here for further information). Latter author positions are often held by supervisors of the work. Where conflict arises, Ben Britton will facilitate discussion to help resolve this.
As a group, we will endeavour to encourage an open dialogue about this, and ideally authorship check-ins will occur several times over the lifetime of the study. We will include an author contribution statement as part of a paper.
You must request permission before submitting a paper for peer review, and have all author's acknowledgement that they are content for the paper to be submitted (even after re-review). If you have need assistance on this process, please speak to Ben.
Outputs and open science
Imperial College London is a signatory to the "San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment" (DORA). Ben Britton is also a personal signatory of DORA. Briefly, this means that we should judge work based upon its merits, and not on where it was published (or other proxy metrics). In practice, this means that we publish work in a venue which provides the best dissemination within our target scientific audience and author support for our published work.
Where possible, all outputs will be published ‘Open Access’ (OA) (preferably Gold or Diamond OA; for definitions, please see the Open Research Glossary), and we will aim to upload manuscripts to a relevant pre-print server at the point of journal submission, review, and ultimate publication. Where Gold OA is not possible, the manuscript should be made publicly available via Green OA and must be placed in the Imperial College’s ‘Symplectic’ system within three months of acceptance. For details on submission to Symplectic, or to discuss publishing options, please contact Ben Britton.
Data to support a paper, at a minimum the CSVs of tabulated data, image figures, and associated videos, for each paper will be collated together with a metadata file (to describe the attached files) and uploaded to a repository, often via https://zenodo.org/ and associated within the manuscript with a data statement. Where possible, we will release codes and scripts to assist the community, but this is tempered with our careful need to manage the intellectual property requirements of our group, sponsors and collaborators. Release of data and information should be discussed first with Ben Britton.
Conference attendance & abstract submission
It is encourage for each PhD student in the group to attend at least one major international conference (which may be in the UK) during their studies. If funds permit, students will be encouraged to attend one local meeting for each year during the first three years of their PhD. Group members are encouraged to apply for research grants to supplement their conference and workshop attendance.
For other researchers in the group, your attendance at conferences will depend on the nature of your project. Please discuss expectations when you start your project. If you are applying for external funding to join the group, please include conference travel as part of your application.
If you wish to attend an international conference, please discuss this with Ben in the first instance. If the conference is topical and reasonable, then attendance is usually encouraged but not all conferences have equal value.
If preparing an abstract, you should send this for review by all the co-authors usually greater than 1 week before the abstract deadline. If this is a repeat submission of a prior abstract, then exceptions can be made. Abstracts that are not submitted within this time are unlikely to be agreed upon by the group.
Once you obtain notification of the abstract decision, please inform the co-authors. Please discuss with Ben in person as well.
For poster presentations: it is required that you submit a draft poster for review at least two weeks before you are due to leave for the conference. This provides enough time for review and printing of the poster.
For oral presentations: it is suggested that you please share a complete slide deck one week before the conference, preferably two weeks. You should aim to have a practice talk with group members (often at a Groups meeting) in the week before you leave for the conference. For repeat presentations, please share slides in advance.
We work with a range of funders and collaborators, and the management of intellectual property is critical to the smooth running of our research. It is important that we discuss IP at the start of projects, and each researcher maintains their own IP register for each project they are involved with.
All computers should be backed up, daily, to at least two locations external to your main PC (e.g. a PC-attached USB hard drive, your H: drive, or the Diskserver). In addition, weekly backups can be made to an off-site, ‘cloud’-based storage system such as Box, Google Drive or DropBox.
Upon completion of a project and where data confidentiality allows, all data should be placed on an appropriate repository with a DOI. A curated version of all datasets used during a project should be provided to made available on the Diskserver and the quality of the curation should be verified with Ben Britton. All group members must also adhere to Imperial College’s Research Data Management Policy.
The group operates numerous ICT resources (e.g. the shared group computers, and the dongle server). These shared resources should be respected and not abused, if you need more computation resource then please discuss your requirements with Ben Britton (and we can often purchase or find arrangements to suit your needs).
Thanks, and please enjoy your time in the ExpMicroMech!
This CoC is released as CC-BY 4.0