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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

5.6 Identifying suitable mentors

The process of identifying suitable mentors will differ for each individual, depending on the type of mentor being sought. The following tips on sourcing a suitable mentor are offered here as potential methods of finding good mentors. Word of mouth and reputation are particularly valuable, as they attest to the personal characteristics of the mentor.

  • Ask your supervisor, head of school, or head of research centre to suggest some names
  • Conduct a literature search on your discipline area and identify some leading researchers publishing in your area of interest. Review their profiles and contact them to explore your research topic
  • When attending a conference, review the paper abstracts and identify people who are working in your own area. Attend their presentation and make yourself known to them. Be prepared to ask intelligent questions
  • Canvass the opinions of your colleagues as to who might be a good mentor
  • Introduce yourself to leading researchers in your university and consider whether any might be suitable mentors
  • Seek the assistance of your research office and other agencies that are in contact with successful researchers
  • Monitor your university publications to identify people of interest
  • Attend networking functions and other research activities to identify potential mentors
  • Visit a potential mentor's own university if you are travelling to a research event.

Once you have identified a potential mentor, conduct some due diligence on them. Factors to explore include their track record, reputation, current activities and projects, and suitability with your desired mentorship focus. Consider whether your personalities are compatible. Make contact with them to see if they would consider being a potential mentor. This is best conducted as a personal contact – either in person or by phone. Following this initial contact you should email your current CV and a short review of your research interests, achievements, and goals. Your mentor may also forward a CV back to you for background information.

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