The following module provides an introduction to faculty research mentoring, including a brief overview, definitions and examples.
- Explain what a faculty research mentor is
- Discuss the importance of relationship building in mentoring
- Explain distance mentoring
This module is designed for faculty with research experience who wish to use mentoring to facilitate successful research and publication among contemporaries. Mentoring has been shown to enhance research productivity, enhance teaching effectiveness, productivity and satisfaction (Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring, 2016).
What is faculty research mentoring anyway?
A mentor has experienced the challenges a mentees will face, and possesses both the ability and willingness to communicate that experience over time (Columbia University, n.d.). Research mentors takes a special interest in helping another person develop the necessary research skills needed to navigate the research process and ultimately publish their work. A research mentor works with a mentee to identify and advance the mentee’s needs and research goals. Understanding and being familiar with CIRT resources is an important factor in acting as a research mentor in order to direct mentees to appropriate, relevant areas of interest or need.
Mentors are flexible and accessible, value diversity of perspectives, knowledgeable, nonjudgmental and provide constructive feedback, honesty and candor. They are facilitators of networking and finding resources, promoting career success, and are devoted to developing others with an eagerness to learn (cited in Smith & Ward, 2020, p. 261).
While expertise in the area of research is necessary to sufficiently mentor colleagues, equally important is the aspect of relationship building. It is important to strike a balance in structure, accountability and expectations for both the mentor and the mentee, while cultivating an environment based on trust, mutual respect and open communication.
Criteria for Mentors
Ability to listen
Willingness and ability to make time
Enjoy and benefit from the process
Respectful of diversity
The role of mentor is differs from that of a supervisor. A mentor provides perspective, asks questions that encourage learning and challenges the mentee to think in new and creative ways. Unlike a typical manager/employee role, the mentor and mentee can expect a different relationship than one found in a traditional workplace (American College of Health Care, n.d.). The mentee then, is not a subordinate, but an equal partner in a learning focused relationship.
Mentorship need not be face to face. In today’s global setting where virtual meetings are commonplace, it is possible to develop and maintain meaningful relationships virtually or by phone. Distance mentoring has its benefits as well. Mentors from different departments, universities or regions may bring different perspectives and insights than a mentor who may work in the same organization or city (American College of Health Care, n.d.). While distance mentoring may present challenges, more planning and focus will likely be necessary to support the needs of both mentor and mentee. The use of technology tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime or other virtual meeting applications can help bridge the distance gap and provide an opportunity to “meet” similarly to being in person.
Research mentorship is a unique opportunity for research savvy faculty to share their experience and expertise with those wishing to become more familiar with the research process. The mentor role requires the ability to develop relationships and provide an atmosphere of mutual trust. Research mentorship may take place face to face or electronically leading to the need for flexibility, commitment and the willingness to make time.
Smith, J. C., & Ward, M. (2020). Research Mentoring: Decreasing the gap in clinical application of evidence in the school-based setting. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 5(1), 261–268.
Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring (Office of the Provost). (2016, August 1). https://provost.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/content/MentoringBestPractices.pdf
American College of Health Care Executives Mentee Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ache.org/-/media/ache/career-resource-center/mentee_guide.pdf
Columbia University Office for Responsible Conduct of Research. (n.d.). Responsible conduct of research. Retrieved from https://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/rcr/rcr_mentoring/foundation/index.html#2