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Practical information:
how the lab works day-to-day#

How labs work evolves over time as they grow or shrink, as they change direction, or move institution. This is how we currently work:

Intra-lab communication#

We use Slack for all intra-lab communication. We use Slack precisely so that we do not have to turn on email to talk to each other. It ensures you can contact Mark easily. Each major project has its own channel in Slack. See below for our notifications policy.

Action: Install Slack on your work PC, and anything else you want to.

Lab scheduling#

The lab has a Google Calendar to track all scheduled lab events (meetings, visitors etc). It has two other main functions: for everyone to enter their holidays; and for adding interesting external events (local seminars, conferences etc).

The lab also has a Team on Microsoft Teams, for online meetings and hybrid attendance at in-person meetings.

Action: Ask Mark to give you access to the lab calendar and the lab’s Team.

Lab meetings#

Lab meetings are weekly*, and scheduled on the Google Calendar. Meeting content alternates: week 1 is a data club; week 2 is a journal club; both follow a rota so all members will present. Data clubs are a chance to present your latest results, your problems you want to solve, or plans. When in the midst of writing paper, data clubs are a chance to talk through the paper, explaining the figures in order. A useful guide to presenting work-in-progress papers in lab meetings is here:

* Weekly is an aspiration. Weeks will be missed when sufficient numbers of people are absent

Data storage#

Each major data analysis project will store its data in a separate folder on the lab’s Sharepoint.


We use Matlab by default; everyone is encouraged to use and/or learn Python. Mark is slowly learning Python, as he is a dinosaur. We like the look of Julia, but have not been brave enough to dive in yet.

Action: Matlab should already be installed on your PC. Register your Nottingham email address with Mathworks, and the institutional license will let you install copies of Matlab wherever you want.

Code sharing#

We use GitHub for code sharing. Consequently, we use Git for version control when needed. We strive to upload all our computational models to ModelDB.

Action: (Step 0: create a GitHub account). Ask Mark to add your GitHub account to the lab’s Organisation.


We write all papers in LaTeX by default. For co-writing papers with collaborators who do not know LaTeX, we will use a word processor with gritted teeth. Option 1: Use pandoc to convert LaTeX to Word (good for papers). Option 2: use Google Docs (good for grants, abstracts etc).


We currently prefer Inkscape for our main needs: laying out panels into figures; editing them; and making schematics.

University & public holidays#

Some useful information on when you are and are not supposed to be working:

University holidays:
Note in particular that UK universities close completely over Christmas.

UK public holidays:
p.s. the UK calls all public holidays “bank holidays”.