Using the Lab

Can I make an appointment with the Communication Lab if I am not an MIT student?

In order to make an appointment with the Communication Lab, you must be an MIT student, postdoc, or affiliate.

Can I use the Communication Lab if I’m an MIT undergraduate or postdoc?

The Communication Lab was designed to support graduate students in the School of Engineering, but all MIT students and postdocs are welcome to make appointments with Communication Fellows and attend workshops.

Can I use the Communication Lab if I am at MIT, but my department doesn’t yet have its own Lab?

Even if your department does not yet have its own Communication Lab, you are welcome to find a Communication Lab in a field close to your own, make an appointment with a Fellow, and attend workshops/events. Our resource was created to match students with peers in their field for feedback, so the closer you can get to finding a Fellow whose expertise is aligned with your research, the more effective our program will be in supporting you.

Will the Communication Fellows edit my work for grammar or English language issues?

The Communication Lab was designed to help scientists and engineers get feedback from scientists and engineers. The Communication Fellows offer high-level, conversational coaching about scientific writing, speaking, and visual design. The Fellows are not available to edit work, and they are not trained to support English Language Learners. Please seek other resources for help in those areas.

Starting Your Own Lab: The Comm Lab Model

How do I start a Communication Lab at my own Institution?

In the spirit of academia, we are happy to share information with other institutions about the Communication Lab model. While we do not currently have resources to support replication elsewhere, time-permitting, we welcome inquiries from students, staff, and institutional leaders so that we can help you innovate around the needs of your community.

How do I request/suggest a Communication Lab workshop?

If you are an MIT student, staff, or affiliate, and you would like for the Communication Lab to run a workshop for a particular group or on a targeted topic, please contact a departmental Communication Lab manager. Please keep in mind that we train our Communication Fellows to run our workshops, which is a time-intensive process. For this reason, we typically do not run workshops unless we have a minimum audience size of 15, and at least four weeks’ notice.

How can the Communication Lab support my graduate class?

The Communication Lab is available to support graduate student classes that have communication deliverables such as presentations, papers, or final projects. Here are some ways we can collaborate with you to provide support:

  • Individual student feedback – Encourage your students to use the Communication Lab prior to submitting a draft or final product.
  • Peer feedback facilitation – We can help you design a way to run feedback sessions for your students in class or electronically.
  • Resources for students – Our departmental CommKits, which provide task-specific scientific communication tools and examples, are a great resource to add to your syllabus. If you want something more specifically catered to your subject’s content, please contact us.
  • Workshops – The Communication Fellows can give a proactive workshop during a recitation or class time to help students prepare for a deliverable.

To request support, contact a Communication Lab manager from your department.

Fellows

How do you train the Communication Fellows?

All first-year Communication Fellows are trained as a cohort. To prepare our Fellows to support their peers, we customize the content of our trainings so that they are field-specific and timely (e.g., the Fellows are trained in graduate school and fellowship applications in the fall). The full training series comprises 9 sessions of two hours each, spaced over a year, with an emphasis on hands-on activities. In addition, Communication Fellows receive ample individual feedback from staff, develop departmental strategies as a team, and have the opportunity to participate in a wide spectrum of professional development opportunities that we offer throughout the year.

We strongly encourage Fellows to use the Communication Lab experience to help them achieve their own professional goals; the staff is here to support Fellow-led initiatives, projects, and innovations.

How do I become a Communication Fellow?

Before spring break every year, we put a call out for Communication Fellow applications. The application is a brief personal statement in response to the question, “Why do you want to become a Communication Fellow?” Candidates with strong applications will be invited to interview with staff. During the interview we will answer any questions candidates may have about the Fellow experience or program expectations, and discuss one field-specific communication piece with a staff member.