Mentor Standards

How to Make Interactions Between Mentors
and Trainees as Synergistic and Fruitful as Possible

One of Gladstone’s most important missions is to train scientists and to prepare them for successful careers. To achieve this goal, mentors and trainees must cooperate actively to develop the trainee’s creativity, knowledge, communication skills, initiative, and perseverance, as these are the qualities that help scientists excel in diverse career paths.

We realize that each individual and each mentor-trainee relationship are unique and that there are many aspects of good mentoring that are difficult to put in words. However, we believe that following the standards outlined below will go a long way toward making the interaction between mentor and trainee a mutually rewarding experience.

The standards were based, in good part, on practices promulgated by the NIH. Several of the NIH guidelines were expanded or modified, with input from postdoctoral fellows and investigators, to optimally support our postdoctoral training program. The standards will be reviewed and updated periodically.

Mentors
Trainees
Orientation
• explicitly discuss with the trainee the scientific and educational goals of the fellowship as well as your (and the trainee’s) expectations
• make the trainee aware of available resources in your lab that could facilitate the start-up period
• alert the trainee to HR support and procedures for conflict resolution
• encourage the trainee to let you know right away should s/he ever feel treated unfairly, and carefully follow up on any such concerns
• explicitly discuss with the mentor the scientific and educational goals of the fellowship as well as your (and the mentor’s) expectations
• ask about and utilize available resources in the lab that could facilitate your start-up period
• find out about HR support and know/utilize procedures for conflict resolution
• let your mentor know right away should you ever feel treated unfairly
Education
• create protected time (uninterrupted by phone calls, e-mails, etc.) to share your knowledge, experience, and love for science with the trainee
• explicitly instruct the trainee in rigorous experimental design, careful analysis of data, effective problem-solving strategies, and critical interpretation of the scientific literature
• inform the trainee of available resources and be willing to refer him/her to someone else for help/information (e.g., cores, materials, equipment and expertise in other labs)
• involve the trainee in establishing successful collaborations
• involve the trainee in scientific discussions within lab meetings and/or on an individual basis
• participate in and encourage participation in talks/seminars
• provide opportunities for the trainee to participate in the writing and reviewing of papers and grants
• provide constructive feedback on oral and written communication skills (papers, fellowship/grant applications) and encourage participation in related educational seminars/activities
• make the trainee aware of skills and procedures required for successful lab management (e.g., budgeting, recruitment strategies) and encourage participation in related seminars
• encourage creativity and independence
• strive to be a role model with respect to collegiality and ethical conduct of science and make sure the trainee does the same
• be especially supportive during difficult times

• seek out protected time (uninterrupted by phone calls, e-mails, etc.) for mentors to share with you their knowledge, experience, and love for science
• actively develop your research skills, including rigorous experimental design, careful analysis of data, effective problem-solving strategies, and critical interpretation of the scientific literature
• be aware of and utilize available resources and be willing to seek help/information from someone other than your mentor
• cooperate with your mentor in establishing successful collaborations
• initiate scientific discussions within lab meetings and/or individually with your mentor
• actively participate in talks/seminars
• take advantage of opportunities to write and/or review papers and grants
• continually try to improve your oral and written communication skills, ask your mentor and other colleagues for critical feedback on your performance, and participate in related educational seminars/activities
• discuss with your mentor what skills and procedures are required for successful lab management (e.g., budgeting, recruitment strategies) and participate in related seminars
• strive to be creative in your approach to questions posed; develop your own ideas, and do not hesitate to discuss them with your mentor
• make sure your interactions with other research/admin staff are appropriate and you receive proper guidance in the ethical conduct of science
• let your mentor know when you encounter major obstacles in your project or if things are not going well for you otherwise
Evaluation
• maintain open communication with the trainee regarding career goals and options and periodically review mutual expectations
• offer frank and candid assessment of the trainee’s potential to become an independent investigator and discuss other suggestions and possibilities as indicated
• ask the trainee periodically how the fellowship is going and whether there is anything you could do to further improve the training experience
• maintain open communication with the mentor regarding career goals and options and periodically review mutual expectations
• be realistic about goals to become an independent investigator, creatively consider career options, and formulate one-year and five-year career plans
• provide your mentor with feedback on how the fellowship is going and openly discuss with him/her any adjustments that might further improve your training experience
Career Promotion
• support/encourage the trainee to present their work at local, national, and international meetings (including Gladstone Scientific Advisory Boards)
• help the trainee network (e.g., introduce him/her to colleagues, make calls)
• play an active role in the trainee’s job search (e.g., advice on application letters, CV, interviews, presentations)
• consider asking the the trainee to be a co-author of invited book chapters/review articles (unless this would distract him/her from completing a research article of higher impact)
• offer opportunities for the trainee to develop supervisory skills through training students and other research staff
• encourage the trainee to participate in career development seminars and activities
• encourage the trainee to actively seek opportunities for experience and advancement (e.g., volunteer on committees, help organize scientific meetings/retreats)
• seek opportunities to present your work (or represent your mentor) at local, national, and international meetings (including Gladstone Scientific Advisory Boards)
• take advantage of networking opportunities (e.g., follow-up with professional contacts)
• ask your mentor for advice on your job search (e.g., application letters, CV, interviews, presentations)
• take advantage of opportunities to co-author invited book chapters/review articles (unless this would distract you from completing a research article of higher impact)
• participate in career development seminars and activities
• seek opportunities to develop supervisory skills through training students and other research staff
• actively seek opportunities for experience and advancement (e.g., volunteer on committees, help organize scientific meetings/retreats)