After staying in a US university (specifically MIT) as a visiting scholar, a colleague of mine says that most of research labs are still working at midnight. I suspect that he is exaggerating. Don't Americans have life?

I know that there is no working hour limit for research, but based on my experience in UK, people used to leave following the official working hours.

Apart from exceptional cases, is it really common for research labs in the US university to work at night?

NOTE: I did not mean competition of early-stage researchers, I mean the common working styles. In any country, student might be in the library during the night (and similar in the lab). I meant does a US university professor expect to keep his lab active during the night? And does he visit the lab at night?

  • 2
    Addressing the non-duplicate aspect: experimental labs often work around the clock based on the nature of the experiments. For example, biologists I collaborate with may have an experiment where they need to do something with their cells every 6 hours for several days. Then they'll take a couple of days off to recover. Or they might need a particular shared piece of equipment and only be able to sign up for it in the middle of the night.
    – jakebeal
    Oct 16, 2014 at 10:57
  • Having spent time at several universities in the US, I'd say it really depends on the school. MIT definitely has an "up all night" culture. West-coast schools like Stanford and Berkeley, maybe not so much. I think people work just as hard on the West coast, but maybe do it from home and don't flaunt it (whereas at MIT maybe long hours are seen as something to brag about). Just my very anecdotal experience. Aug 15, 2015 at 7:36


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