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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

5.2 Why is mentorship important for researchers?

The Go8 interviews of researchers mentioned in subtopic 3.1 consistently identified mentors as being the most valuable form of support during a research career. Those with good mentors noted the value of mentorship in fast-tracking their careers. The mentor was often attributed with assisting with goal-setting, reviewing research progress, establishing and consolidating effective research networks, identifying suitable publishing and research opportunities, and assisting with the many challenges which can emerge during research projects. Many of these interviewees noted the sustained nature of their research mentoring relationship – across decades, from an initial strong sponsorship of the new researcher to a strong collaborative partnership over time. They also noted the value of having different mentors for different purposes.

Mentorship brings many benefits to both parties. For the mentee, the relationship can assist in:

  • Developing and refining professional skills and knowledge
  • Building professional and collaborative networks
  • Enhancing your insights into the professional communities in which you hope to operate
  • Exploring potential career options and strategies
  • Reviewing your personal and professional capabilities with a view to ongoing growth and development.

For the mentor, the relationship can enable:

  • The development of new research partnerships and collaborations
  • An opportunity to reflect on accumulated knowledge and insights
  • Satisfaction from guiding and supporting an emerging researcher/academic
  • Ongoing development of their own professional knowledge and skills through mutual discussion and enquiry
  • Garnering new insights and perspectives from those entering the discipline and research area, and (possibly)
  • Providing an opportunity for joint publishing/projects as time progresses.

Of particular note is the recognition that research mentorship can be a lifelong partnership – with the role of the mentor and the nature of the relationship changing over time.

The first step in the mentorship process is to consider what type of mentor is needed and who might be suitable.


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