Whilst I wait for my afternoon coffee to load up those proposal writing brain cells with focus and energy, allow me to pose a scenario and question on lab etiquette.
Miser. Penny-pincher. Scrooge. Captain Frugal. Cheap bastard. Whatever we call them, it’s easier to get blood from a turnip than it is to get money out of some people. These people may be friends or family or some random acquaintance.
Sometimes they’re PIs.
Now I understand reasons for saving money, cutting costs where possible. For instance, I find it ridiculous to use a kit to purify genomic DNA for standard genotyping of mouse strains or buying packets of pre-measured Tris and glycine for making transfer buffer. Undoubtedly we all have a list of “it’s silly to spend money on this” things.
But there are plenty of things a lab has to spend money on. Sometimes that stuff gets loaned to other labs. Most are willing to help out neighbors. We share reagents when one unexpectedly runs out. We loan aliquots of protein or antibody or reagent so a colleague can test it out before investing hundreds of dollars in a whole kit or vial.
Then there are labs where the PI won’t let go of money and tells hir people that s/he won’t buy the antibody or reagent or ELISA kit they need for their experiments, that they should “borrow” it from the X lab.
What happens when you’re working in the X lab? Where do you draw the line? It’s one thing to give some Blotto or enough antibody for a trial run. It’s a completely different thing to hand over multiple aliquots of the same antibody or run half a plate worth of ELISA samples because someone’s PI either won’t or can’t pay for it.
So my question for you, dear readers: Where do you draw the line between helping out and asking too much?