Responsible Mentoring of Researchers
Mentoring a less-experienced researcher is a professional responsibility of all scientists. The ultimate goal of the mentor is to establish the trainee as an independent researcher. Mentoring responsibilities include sharing knowledge and skills, overseeing the trainee’s work, helping the trainee to make contact with other researchers, and assisting with career counseling. The trainee reciprocates by providing work hours and a fresh perspective for the mentor, and taking a proactive role in learning, developing and landing a job.
Early in the collaboration the mentor and trainee should create an agreement delineating the amount of time they will devote to each other, ownership of data and so forth, so as to maintain a healthy working environment.
Since researchers do not have a licensing exam, the mentor decides when a trainee becomes a researcher. At this point, mentors must be willing to let go of their assistants, and trainees should be ready to pursue independent research utilizing the knowledge and skills imparted by their mentor.
Guidance for Mentors
- Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering (NAS)
- How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty at a Diverse University (PDF, 998KB) (University of Michigan)
- The Mentoring of Graduate Students (North Carolina State University)
- NIH Fellows Handbook: Mentoring
- Individual Development Plan for Postdoctoral Fellows (FASEB)
- How to get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students at a Diverse University (PDF, 465KB) (University of Michigan)