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Case Study: The Mentoring Review Committee

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ORI Introduction to RCR: Chapter 7. Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities

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At a recent meeting, several faculty in a large, research-oriented science department raised concerns about their mentoring program. While mindful of the many demands they all faced, they wondered whether changes were needed in the way the department assigned, trained, and oversaw mentors. The ensuing discussion raised some potentially good suggestions, which most agreed were best referred to a special committee for further discussion and recommendations. With a little arm twisting, Susan D., an advanced graduate student; Dr. Linda L., a postdoc; and Dr. Bill K., an established researcher, were recruited to serve.
At their first meeting, the three colleagues quickly agreed to tackle first the question of goals. If they knew what mentoring was expected to achieve, they could then assess the strengths and weaknesses of their current program and make suggestions for change. With this settled, they decided to spend some time talking with their peers and then get back together to compare notes. When they met the next time:
  • What goals would you expect each member of the committee to recommend?
  • Why might different members of the committee recommend different goals?
  • Assuming they came to the conclusion that some improvements were needed, what avenues are open to change the way mentors and trainees interact?