Having a good mentor early in a career can mean the difference between success and failure in any field

Welcome to Guidelines on Research Mentoring

In 2005, Nature, the international weekly journal of science, created the Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science. The awards came out of the realisation of the Editor in Chief, Phil Campbell that one of the least rewarded aspects of science was the mentorship of young researchers. These awards for outstanding mentorship are now awarded annually in a specific country or countries each year. link In 2oo6, one of us (AL) had the honour of being on the judging panel for the Australasian awards. It was a daunting task with a superb group of mentors being strongly supported by large numbers of their mentees. Following discussions about what are the attributes of a good mentor, we realised that there in the massive supporting documentation written by the mentees and by the mentors themselves, reflecting on their practices, was the answer. Thus more than 200 informative quotes were distilled, synthesized and finally written as a publication  "Nature's guide for mentors" which looked at what made a good mentor. link  With the permission of the other authors, we  based this website on the Nature's guide but extended it by linking to other resources that will hopefully be useful to commencing, future and established mentors in helping them reflect on their current practices and give them some ideas.

Over the more than ten years since this website was created there have been a number of people who have looked at it and, we hope, benefited from the ideas written here and been influenced by the many examples of what mentees considered to be defining features of good mentoring. The Nature awards have been continued over the years following and have continued to acknowledge excellent mentors from all corners of the globe.

Nature’s guide has been referred to in many mentoring programs which have become more common in major universities possibly stimulated by the high profile given to mentoring by the Nature awards.

It had been my intention to update this website regularly, but life took over. However recently, I was sent a link to a paper entitled Survey of Australian STEMM Early Career Researchers: job insecurity and questionable research practices are major structural concerns by Katherine Christian, Carolyn Johnstone, Jo-ann Larkins,
Wendy Wright, and Michael R. Doran. Link

A finding that depressed me was that 658 early career researchers indicated they were likely to leave their positions despite a love of science. Amongst their grievances 60% referred to poor supervision. Also, in the 2017 Nature PhD survey of more than 5.700 doctoral students worldwide Link,  good mentorship was the main factor driving satisfaction levels. Most respondents were happy with their adviser, but nearly one-quarter said they would switch advisers if they could.

The ideas discussed in the Nature’s guide and this website are clearly not being taken up by many. So, in COVID 19 lock down, I determined to revive the website in conjunction with Katherine Christian and to put more effort into getting others to read it and suggest useful additions. Our revision contains more quotes from the 2008-2019 Nature Awards announcements Link and some recent references re good mentoring have been added. New sections have been added and will be updated over the next few months.

To continually improve this site we need your input: ideas, "tips and traps' and useful links that you have found. Please forward any material you believe would be useful to adrianlee2@mac.com

Adrian Lee and Katherine Christian

Reference:Adrian Lee, Carina Denis and Philip Campbell Nature's guide for mentors Nature 447, 791-797 (14th June 2007) Link