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A Mentoring Toolkit: Tips and Tools for Mentoring Early-Career Researchers

A Mentoring Toolkit: Tips and Tools for Mentoring Early-Career Researchers

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A Mentoring Toolkit: Tips and Tools for Mentoring Early-Career Researchers

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  1. A Mentoring Toolkit: Tips and Tools for Mentoring Early-Career Researchers Kathleen Flint, PhD January 6, 2010 AAS Winter Meeting

  2. Why Mentor? • Mentoring correlates with increased success in academic career • Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey (2005): Mentoring is part of “structured oversight” that correlates with greater success and satisfaction for postdocs • Mentoring critical part of training for early-career researchers • NSF/NIH Definition: A postdoctoral scholar ("postdoc") is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored researchand/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing • Mentoring plan can provide a training roadmap for both mentor and protégé

  3. General Tips Encourage multiple mentors • Supervisor does not need to be sole mentor • Multiple mentors can satisfy a diversity of needs • Studies show this may be more effective for many protégés, especially women (c.f. Tierney & Bensimon 1996, Promotion and Tenure: Community and Socialization in Academe; Ragins & Cotton 1999, J. of Appl. Psych, 84(4), 529)

  4. General Tips Mentoring can occur in a variety of places • Within research group: group meeting? practice talks? involve in grant writing? opportunities to mentor others in group? • Within institution: teaching opportunities in department? other colleagues for collaboration? professional development opportunities? • Outside institution: introduce to your networks? send to other facilities/institutions for skill development? recommend professional opportunities, session chairing, journal editing, advisory group participation? For more suggestions, see NPA’s “Developing a Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan”

  5. General Tips Mentoring is a two-way street • Identify roles and responsibilities for both mentor and protégé • Consider writing them down (perhaps using the AAMC Postdoc Compact) Mentoring can include professional, career, and/or personal development • Mentors don’t have to do it all • Be clear about what you can offer

  6. Mentoring Plan: First Steps • Encourage your protégé to perform a self-assessment • Individual Development Plan • NPA Core Competencies • Develop/find/offer relevant activities • Schedule regular meetings • Conduct on-going assessments to gauge progress towards goals From NPA’s “Developing a Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan”

  7. Individual Development Plan (IDP) • Identifies professional development needs and career objectives • Helps set milestones and ways to achieve them • Facilitates communication between protégé and mentor/advisor • FASEB IDP Template: • Also, provides framework for feedback/evaluation:

  8. IDP How-To • Steps for Protégés: • Self-Assessment • Survey career opportunities • Write plan to match skills and strengths with career choices • Implement plan, revise as necessary • Steps for Mentors: • Become familiar with available opportunities • Discuss opportunities with postdoc • Review IDP and help revise • Establish regular review of progress and help revise the IDP as needed

  9. NPA Postdoc Core Competencies • Purpose: To provide guidelines for postdocs and mentors to assess success in completing the steps needed for scientific career fulfillment • Based on life-long learning model • Not intended to be prescriptive or limiting – should be individualized • Download a self-assessment checklist at: • Consider also encouraging peer review

  10. Scientific Knowledge Professionalism Communication Skills Competencies Needed for Career Success in the 21st Century Management and Leadership Skills Responsible Conduct of Research Research Skill Development


  12. Mentoring International Scholars • Visa issues • Become familiar with visa options (or with those individuals who already are) • Monitor your protégé’s visa status • Cultural Differences • Clearly communicate about norms, expectations • Language Barriers • Poor communication skills can be inhibiting for a junior researcher • Career Guidance • Provide the benefit of your informal networks, as theirs may be limited in the U.S. • Encourage grant writing training to learn about U.S. agencies

  13. Mentoring Women • Mentoring can be especially critical for women, so everything mentioned will certainly benefit them. Mentoring can: • Share “inside” knowledge about the profession, the department • Expand networks • Provide encouragement and role modeling • Women face additional challenges in finding mentors, such as: • Limited access to potential mentors due to limited informal networks • Women often downplay their success, attractiveness as a protégé • Few same-sex role models • Peer-perceptions of cross-gender mentoring relationships

  14. Mentoring Women • Provide assistance to women in identifying and forming mentoring relationships • Women benefit more from mentor-initiated or mutually-initiated relationships (Stonewater, Eveslage & Dingerson 1990) • Multiple mentor model is especially effective for women • “Collective mentoring” model can create supportive environment, with department overseeing a mentoring team • “Peer mentoring” can also be effective, esp. as complement to mentoring team • Encourage protégés to look beyond research group, department, discipline, institution

  15. Additional Resources • NPA’s Mentoring Toolkit: • NPA’s Postdoc Core Competencies • • ORI RCR Education page on Mentorship: • • HHMI Lab Management Handbooks: • Making the Right Moves • Training Scientists to Make the Right Moves • Nat’l Academies (1997):Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering • University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School handbooks: • How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students at a Diverse University • How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty in a Diverse University • AAMC Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors