Working in academia is not without its challenges. It’s likely that at some point you’re going to do things you find daunting or difficult, whether that’s submitting your first research paper, applying for a competitive grant or maybe presenting your research findings at a conference.
The things we find the most challenging are often areas we need to embrace in order to develop ourselves. So what support is available for researchers looking to develop their skills and experience? Who can you turn to for objective guidance and advice? And how can you look to develop your career as a researcher?
Mentoring is becoming an increasingly discussed topic in academia in response to all of these questions. Various mentoring schemes exist, from formal university mentoring programmes, to journal mentoring schemes and even online mentoring, providing a helping hand for researchers in developing countries.
Whilst mentoring can take different shapes and forms, one thing is clear: mentoring matters. As a researcher, a mentor might be able to help you with career planning, offer advice on academic writing or selecting a suitable journal to publish in, and provide encouragement and support as you move through your research. And mentoring can benefit the mentor too – those involved in mentoring may find they develop new coaching and listening skills, gain insights from their mentee, and feel a great deal of satisfaction in helping make a difference to someone else’s research career.
So mentoring matters, but how can you find out more about it?
Catch up on our Twitter discussion
We hosted a live Twitter discussion around mentoring to explore its importance in academia, different ways it can work and how you can get the most out of mentoring. We were joined by a panel of experts who shared their experiences and advice.
Read all the tweets gathered into one storify, with thoughts, reflections and practical tips on mentoring.
Meet our #tfmentoring panel
Paul Benneworth is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Paul’s research concerns the dynamics of knowledge-based development in contemporary societies, with a particular focus on the ways that knowledge networks evolve and influence localities and their regions. He is currently Chief Scientist on the ESRC & NWO funded research project “Whose knowledge matters? Competing and contesting knowledge claims in 21st century cities”.
Andy is Programme Officer, Research Development and Support at INASP. He provides support to the AuthorAID project, which helps developing country researchers get published and communicate their research. His work focuses on online training courses, online mentoring and the AuthorAID website. He also works on the Journals Online project, which provides support to developing country journals to improve the quality of their publications and disseminate their research to the rest of the world.
Clare is a Chartered Scientist and Chemist with extensive experience in the science community and not-for-profit sector. She is passionate about investing in future generations and those from diverse backgrounds and experiences, empowering people to realize their potential and achieve their career and development goals. Key current initiatives for CRAC include leading and managing Vitae, a major international programme dedicated to realizing the potential of researchers, supporting those who advise on young people’s career decisions, and providing research and careers innovation to a range of sectors and client groups.
Tracy is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) and the Director of Postdoctoral Affairs at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. She is passionate about enhancing the postdoctoral experience with a particular focus on mentoring, leadership development, individual career development and networking. Tracy has been active with the NPA for over 10 years in a variety of leadership roles and at Moffitt, she is building a new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to provide career development programming, coaching and advising, and administrative structure and support to the postdoctoral experience.
Listen to our podcast
Check out our podcast series: 15 minutes to develop your research career for practical tips and insights for researchers looking to develop their career. Episode 3 is dedicated to the role of academic mentoring and we hear from a number of people (mentees and mentors) including Dr Uzma Ashgar from the Institute of Cancer Research, Nigel Eady, Head of Researcher Training at Kings College London and Maryanne Dever, joint Editor-in-Chief of Australian Feminist Studies.
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