Assessing the quality of mentorship in research environments

3 min read
Assessing the quality of mentorship in research environments

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.

Oprah Winfrey

Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.

Denzel Washington

How did you get to where you are? If you think carefully, it is likely you got help along the way.

An excellent mentor will have brought out the best in you. By supporting and challenging – they will have provided the conditions for you to grow and flourish in academia, encouraging you to explore your interests and develop your skills.

Conversely, you may either know or have heard of, someone who has had a terrible experience in academia. Or you may even have had a bad experience yourself.  A recent study reported 39% of graduate students suffer from depression, compared to just 6% of the general population measured using the same scale. There are a large number of other studies in various universities supporting these findings (see Reading List below).

There are many factors that contribute to poor mental health: lack of work-life balance, internal and external stress, imposter syndrome, and poor mentorship. Several recent studies have begun to identify the factors influencing grad students and postdocs wellbeing with the aim to make recommendations on how to improve the situation.  

To contribute to this effort, we have designed a survey to assess the quality of mentorship in research institutions around the globe from the perspective of early-career researchers. Due to career stage requirements, we have generated one survey for researchers pre-independence (i.e. graduate and postdoc level) and one for independent investigators who are junior group leaders/scientists/faculty (pre-tenure/assistant and tenure/associate professorship). Both surveys take between 5-7 minutes to complete and ask whether respondents receive sufficient mentoring from more seasoned/senior colleagues.

We aim to surface what mentees believe is most important for a positive mentoring experience and to identify common gaps in skills or resources that can be addressed. We also hope that the findings will help us understand the factors that negatively impact the mentee-mentor relationships in research environments. The results will serve as a basis to offer recommendations for maximizing the benefits of mentoring in academia.

Our definition of a mentor signifies someone who guides trainees through their scholarly training in higher education institutions. A mentee is a graduate or postdoctoral trainee or early to mid-career faculty member. You may have research and non-research mentors. Via our form, you will be asked to provide confidential and anonymous feedback about your mentor or mentorship team.

If you have multiple mentors please focus on the one mentor that covers your most important requirements.

To complete the poll:

If you are pre-independence please visit this link,
If you are early to mid-career faculty please visit this link.

Update July 27th 2019 the closing date for submissions was changed from Aug 1 to Oct 1
Update June 24th 2019 the closing date for submissions was changed from June 1 to Aug 1
Update May 7th 2019 the closing date for submissions was changed from 1 June to 1st of July

Reading List:
















This poll is designed and run by a number of eLife Ambassadors. Header image source: LEGO

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