An important issue for every PI (actually for every manager of any creative enterprise) is to achieve accountability for performance by the trainees she manages. However, it is also important not to “micromanage” or be perceived as doing so. Science is a creative pursuit, and PIs should foster an environment in which people are free to engage creatively with the scientific mission of the lab, while also being held responsible for continued scientific productivity and progress in their training. Below the fold I describe a nice simple method for maintaining this balance.

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I was sort of kicking the latest journal article retractions around with a colleague. The Hellinga case. The Buck retraction. A few more in each of our respective spheres.
The question came up.
How many retractions can a lab survive?
I think one is a given. There’s the usual muddying of blame, accuse the postdoc or grad student, beg off on a mistake. For the first one.
What happens if there is a second one? Does it matter if it is 2 years apart or 15 years apart? Is that it, buh-bye, kiss of death? Or does it just depend on how good the excuse making is?