At the O’BRAIN Lab, we share a set of val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and prac­tices that shape our work envi­ron­ment and guide how we com­mu­ni­cate, pro­vide super­vi­sion, and prac­tice sci­ence. We feel that this is para­mount, par­tic­u­lar­ly con­sid­er­ing that our lab is dis­trib­uted across sites in Leipzig, Ger­many, and Helsin­ki, Fin­land. The ManifestO’BRAIN spells out explic­it­ly what those val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and prac­tices are and how we strive to adhere to them. It is intend­ed to help prospec­tive and new mem­bers to get an idea of how we work and how we work together.

When hir­ing, we ask can­di­dates not to include a pho­to and to for­go men­tions of their age, nation­al­i­ty, or mar­i­tal sta­tus in their appli­ca­tion. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, our lab man­ag­er also removes ref­er­ences to name and gen­der before we con­sid­er it. All con­tenders are inter­viewed by mul­ti­ple team mem­bers to reduce poten­tial bias and to give the inter­vie­wees the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a feel for the group. Beyond skill and moti­va­tion, we also take into account appli­cants’ per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al goals and con­sid­er care­ful­ly whether and how these can be achieved with­in the lab.
We con­sid­er our­selves to be an inclu­sive group that wel­comes new-com­ers. We have core work­ing times to fos­ter coop­er­a­tion and social inter­ac­tion between group mem­bers. We have no reg­u­lar meet­ings after 3 pm to ensure fam­i­ly com­mit­ments can be met. We speak Eng­lish to accom­mo­date dif­fer­ent lan­guage back­grounds in the group.

We attempt to make each indi­vid­ual feel wel­come and com­fort­able in the lab. We are a colour­ful bunch of per­son­al­i­ties and invite every new mem­ber to bring theirs. We expect that every­one be treat­ed with kind­ness and respect. We do not ask our col­leagues to be respon­sive to calls or emails beyond core work­ing hours or on week­ends. We take each other’s well-being and social sit­u­a­tion into con­sid­er­a­tion when com­mu­ni­cat­ing or for­mu­lat­ing expec­ta­tions. We have a lab man­ag­er who helps nego­ti­ate between indi­vid­ual and group lev­el needs. We recog­nise that emo­tions seep into and arise at work and active­ly encour­age their expres­sion, e.g. in reg­u­lar check-in rounds at meet­ings but also in exchanges between group mem­bers. When mis­un­der­stand­ings or inter­per­son­al prob­lems emerge, we make an effort to resolve them through open talk and reflec­tion. Our lab man­ag­er works hard to coor­di­nate our work­day to accom­mo­date indi­vid­ual and group lev­el needs.


In super­vi­sion rela­tion­ships, we place great val­ue in cul­ti­vat­ing auton­o­my in our super­visees. We ensure that everybody’s voice is heard no mat­ter their posi­tion or senior­i­ty. Feed­back and open dis­cus­sion are an inte­gral part of our work togeth­er. Peer sup­port is an inte­gral part of our approach to prob­lem-solv­ing and deci­sion-mak­ing. We try to keep hier­ar­chies as flat as pos­si­ble and as steep as nec­es­sary to offer appro­pri­ate amounts of guid­ance and lead­er­ship.
We fos­ter learn­ing and exper­i­men­ta­tion in our group. All group mem­bers take turns assum­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty with­in the team (e.g. chair­ing or writ­ing min­utes for lab meet­ings, organ­is­ing socials). We encour­age fur­ther edu­ca­tion (e.g., work­shops, class­es, sum­mer schools) with­in and out­side of the scope of our research, giv­en that the day-to-day is tak­en care of. When obsta­cles arise, we attempt to find prag­mat­ic solu­tions. There is room for ideas and flights of fan­cy, and we sup­port each oth­er in the eval­u­a­tion and implementation.

We acknowl­edge that sci­ence is a joint effort rather than a com­pe­ti­tion. We do not want suc­cess on the back of oth­er people’s fail­ure. We build on the shoul­ders of oth­er researchers as they build on ours to fur­ther sci­ence as a whole, and we believe that work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly makes sci­ence more valu­able and effi­cient. As such, we want to be trans­par­ent and accu­rate in the way we prac­tice sci­ence and com­mu­ni­cate our research find­ings. This includes pub­licly pre­reg­is­ter­ing our new projects, pre­sent­ing project pro­pos­als at con­fer­ences instead of only pol­ished results, eval­u­at­ing each other’s analy­sis steps in lab meet­ings, and visu­al­iz­ing data trans­par­ent­ly.
We care for the vol­un­teers that par­tic­i­pate in our stud­ies and val­ue their con­tri­bu­tion to sci­ence. The same holds for tax pay­ers that make most of our research pos­si­ble. To make most of the pub­lic funds made avail­able to us, we try to be as resource­ful as we can. This involves thor­ough project man­age­ment with­in and across projects. We also com­ply as much as pos­si­ble with good clin­i­cal prac­tice to guar­an­tee high eth­i­cal stan­dards of our stud­ies. By means of active sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion we aim to give back to the com­mu­ni­ty in terms of knowl­edge and education. 

We like to learn from our mis­takes and aim to con­tin­u­ous­ly improve the way we do science.