Why I don’t like lab tours

I’m a physics PhD student at the University of Glasgow. I’m now at the very end of my third year. I do lots of experimental work and very little theory or data analysis – that’s just the nature of my research. I like working in labs.

I don’t like lab tours. There’s a tendencey among academics to offer lab tours to visitors. When offered you must say yes and then you must traipse politely around the lab, asking relevant questions and admiring the equipment. In some cases I can see the purpose, for example if the visitor in question will be joining the lab soon.

This is one of the labs I work in. It’s great but unless you actually need to use it I can’t see why you’d need a tour

Usually the visitors will never join the lab they’re being shown around and, if they do eventually join it some years later some aspects will have changed. Even if they haven’t, you can guarentee a second tour at that point. As a visitor to a different institution I have very little interest in labs or lab equipment that I’ll never use. As far as I can tell I am unusual in considering lab tours to be an inconvenience.

Of course, this means that I don’t like giving lab tours to visitors to our school either. I am frequently roped in anyway; I am a lab user and a person who is often involved with science outreach and public engagement so it is assumed that I will excell at this task. I’m not convinced that I do. I don’t know what people could possibly be interested in – I do my best to show them around and to talk about the work but I always feel like I’m wasting their time.

So, I love labs but I don’t like lab tours. Sorry.

Originally posted here:


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