National Institutes of Health: Guidelines
ORI Introduction to RCR: Chapter 7. Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities
A Guide to Training and Mentoring in the Intramural
Research Program at NIH
A mentor is a person who has achieved career success and counsels and guides another for the purpose of helping him or her achieve like success. Research supervisors should always be mentors; they have the responsibility to discuss with and advise a trainee on aspects of his or her work and professional development. The trainee may find additional mentors informally—or the training institution may designate them. They are very important in the overall experience of the trainee and may contribute to research productivity as well....
Training in the skills of mentorship itself is important, especially for those who plan careers in research or teaching. Postdoctoral trainees should learn to train and guide others, for example, by working with more junior individuals, supervising technical staff, or training students. The characteristics considered important by a fellow in selecting a supervisor and other mentors—interest in contributing to the career development of another scientist, research accomplishments, professional networking, accessibility, and past success cultivating the professional development of fellows—are characteristics that trainees may eventually strive to emulate in their own careers.
Although this Section has emphasized the responsibilities of supervisors and others in research institutions to provide mentoring to trainees to facilitate their professional development, trainees also have responsibilities. Collaborative research frequently requires productive interactions among fellows themselves as well as recognition of their roles as part of a team effort. In addition, fellows must have a commitment to the work of the laboratory and Institute and to the achievement of their goals. They cannot be passive participants in their training; they should appropriately make known their satisfactions, dissatisfactions, and needs clearly and often. (Link)